Grimaudo clarifies St. Lazare’s H-300 housing development project
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Infrastructure work continues on the H-300 housing development project that will be known le Projet des Champs (rather than Les Citadins as shown above) and have streets named after insects.
Striking the right balance between preserving St. Lazare’s rustic charm and equestrian heritage with development requirements has been no easy feat, but Mayor Robert Grimaudo said he feels the town has accomplished its goal with the new H-300 residential project scheduled to begin construction this spring.
The sprawling urban village, that will be called le Projet des Champs and have streets named after insects, will be comprised of about 380 residential units that will be built in a field near the southwest corner of route de la Cité des Jeunes and Chemin Ste. Angelique. While Grimaudo conceded that traffic c in the area will eventually worsen as people move into their new homes, he sought to clear up certain misconceptions that have been raised by resident Richard Meades during recent council meetings.
Speaking to Your Local Journal at his city hall office Tuesday, February 17, Grimaudo said the location is ideal because of its close proximity to route de la Cité des Jeunes, a major artery that is administered by the provincial Ministry of Transport (MTQ) as Highway 340.
“We couldn’t do this type of project in another part of town. It wouldn’t make sense,” he said. The town met with MTQ officials last fall to ask for their commitment to widen the highway into four lanes to handle the expected increase in traffic, but the request was refused because it wasn’t considered a priority, said Grimaudo.
Even though it could take several years before any work on widening Highway 340 begins, the town is still obliged under the requirements of the Metropolitan Land Use and Development Plan (PMAD) from the Communauté Urbainé de Montréal (CMM) to fulfill specific density requirements. Rather than have several small developments built throughout the municipality, the town thought it best to concentrate development in the eastern region.
“St. Lazare has the largest percentage, 49 per cent of buildable property in the 11 CMM municipalities that comprise Vaudreuil-Soulanges,” said Grimaudo. “If we’re going to have high-density development, we’re going to do it in the east where it will do the least possible damage to the environment. We have a conservation plan. It’s been adopted by council and was designed to protect our forests and water,” Grimaudo added.
He dismissed concerns raised about possible increased run-off from the sewage lagoons near the new development causing further erosion along the Quinchien River that flows through Chaline Valley and whether the sewage system could handle the increased flow. The argument that we are going to cause further erosion in the Quinchien River is hogwash,” said Grimaudo.
“To meet provincial Environment Ministry specifications, we’re only allowed to dump one gallon from the lagoons into the stream that leads into the river for every 300 gallons that flows naturally. “We’ve also had companies conduct independent studies of our lagoons,” Grimaudo added.
“They’re in great shape. In fact, they’re in such good shape that we may delay the digging for a fifth one. Right now we don’t need additional capacity for a new lagoon, but we may build a new one as a precaution.” Preserving the water shed that flows in from the west which helps to maintain and replenish the underground water well and aquifer near the center of town is another reason why it was decided to focus development in the east, said Grimaudo responding to concerns that the development could adversely affect St. Lazare’s water supply.
“A lot of thought goes into our projects and the days when the town did stuff blindly, those days are gone,” said Grimaudo. “It doesn’t happen anymore. We have very good administrators here who bring us all the options. We know what’s going on before we make a major decision. There’s no way we would have allowed that project to affect our aquifer.”
Grimaudo said the developer assumed most of the $2 million sewage and water infrastructure cost with the town contributing $300,000. It will also enable people living on several streets near the development, including Radisson and Duhamel Streets, the option to discard their old septic systems and plug into the new sewage system.
“Instead of having to upgrade their septic systems, some of which are 30 years old, homeowners will have the option to connect to the new sewage system,” said Grimaudo. “It’ll cost an average of $5,000 instead of having to pay $15,000 to $20,000 to replace a septic system. We’re also looking into possible subsidies from the federal and provincial governments as well.”
The new water and sewage systems will also eventually be extended for another new housing development being planned just west of le Projet des Champs withe aim of connecting it to the town’s small industrial park which is presently not serviced. The importance of the development projects cannot be underestimated because it will bring in much needed additional tax revenue which will help the town keep property tax rates steady, said Grimaudo.
“Every decision we make, we make for the wellbeing of the town. We cannot allow St. Lazare to stagnate and we’re not going to let that happen,” he said.