Hudson delays unveiling of town’s strategic plan
PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO
Th e Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre was standing room only for the April 7 Hudson council meeting, one that saw a mostly supportive community and a divisive council.
Given recent events in the Town of Hudson that have seen the departure of treasurer Ramin Jawanda, suspension and subsequent lawsuit of Director General Catherine Haulard, and the interim replacement Jacques Lemieux leaving after one week, coupled with ongoing questions and misconceptions about densification, Mayor Ed Prévost took the decision to move the long awaited unveiling of the Strategic Plan, scheduled for April 25, to later in the fall.
Making the announcement at the April 7 council meeting, Prévost invited resident Ron Laursen to further explain the decision who described the process of taking the input of all citizens to create a vision of the town to represent the majority sentiment and, “Not the loudest person in the room. The object that was set was to have a plan and strategic vision that represented the sentiment of Hudsonites that was financially prudent.” Laursen said council needs to focus on fixing the day to day operations so that when the plan is launched, all residents will have had their input considered in the face of the zoning and densification requirements of the provincial Plan Métropolitain d’aménagement et de Développement (PMAD).
Along with elected officials and staff, two members of the Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS) will be at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre Wednesday, April 15, from noon to 8 p.m. to answer questions on the PMAD densification requirements. The question period began with the issue following last month’s withdrawal of the omnibus by-law concerning subdivisions on lot sizes. “Is it the intention of this council to have a fully democratic process in place for the passing of by-laws – namely, a consultation, a registration, and if necessary, a referendum?” asked resident Marcus Owen, to which Prévost replied, “If that’s what the people want, that’s what the people will get.”
Resident Helen Kurgansky questioned whether the company hired to draw up the by-law - that reportedly also has ties to the owners of Sandy Beach - presented a conflict of interest. “That was done by the town manager at the time,” said Prévost, confirming he was referring to former Director General Haulard. Without going into specifics, the mayor said he would ensure steps would be taken to avoid a conflict scenario.
Resident Ron Aird was accompanied by Très St. Rédempteur resident and Citoyens au courant member Katherine Massam who asked council to pass a resolution, as have the towns of Rigaud and St. Lazare, to force the Enbridge Pipeline company to implement hydrostatic testing on its 9B Pipeline reversal plan to pump diluted bitumen from western Canada oil fields through the region to refineries in eastern Montreal. “I’ve read your petition and I’m fully in support of it,” said Prévost, describing Enbridge’s previous presentations to area municipalities as disingenuous, saying they hide behind the authority of the National Energy Board.
“It’s a test that hasn’t been done for 19 years,” said Massam. “It’s standard in the industry but Enbridge has asked for an exemption, which we don’t think is reasonable.” Massam told council that Citoyens au courant representatives knocked on 66 doors in Hudson last weekend to gauge citizen response to the hydrostatic testing demand and received favourable feedback from 63 homes.
Residents were asked to sign a declaration to invite their council members to, “Look at the question and join their voice to other councils in asking for hydrostatic testing to be done because (the pipeline) lies just on the Ottawa River upstream.” Prévost said he shared the pipeline concerns and is in favour of adding shut-off valves to the line. As for demanding hydrostatic testing, Prévost said, “We don’t exclude it but it depends on what the MRC decides as well.”
Reached after the meeting, Massam said Citoyens au courant would be following up with the council to determine the next course of action. Following contentious decisions made at past meetings that did not include input from all councillors, Mayor Prévost ended the April council meeting conceding he’d made previous mistakes and vowed that future meetings will be all-inclusive. “They are free to agree or disagree,” the mayor said, “that’s fi ne. That’s democracy. But they will always be included in everything.”