• Carmen Marie Fabio

St. Lazare receives confirmation of grant for new Town Hall


PHOTO COURTESY VILLE DE ST. LAZARE

The proposed structure, to be built on the same spot as the original building, will house all employees and will be built to modern environmental architectural standards.

While the Town of St. Lazare gets set to pitch a new $10 million Town Hall building project to its residents, news came in November 17 that a grant in the amount of $1,146,968 will be paid under the Taxe sur l'essence et de la contribution du Québec (TECQ) fund towards the project.

“This is going to be a fully functioning town hall,” said St. Lazare Mayor Robert Grimaudo of the proposed structure, slated to be built following the demolition of the existing town hall, a former school that was constructed in 1952. The project, that will feature a geothermic heating system, would be implemented in a single phase and would see municipal staff relocated for the duration of the construction, estimated to be about one year.

“It’s not ideal for the employees but we’ll do what needs to be done,” said Grimaudo.

The mayor said the final structure will be large enough to accommodate not only the municipal staff, but also the myriad community groups that are currently scattered in meeting places around the town, including the community centre and various church basements, some of which are not equipped with proper wheelchair access.

The mayor said it’s difficult to estimate what any ensuing increase would be on residents’ tax bills but said in the long run, building a new town hall is fiscally more responsible than continuing to pay the existing rent to house the overflow of town employees in privately-owned locations.

“We rent almost the whole building across the street for urbanism and infrastructure employees,” said Grimaudo of the $200, 000 spent annually on rental fees. “I’ve always been a firm believer in paying a mortgage as opposed to a rent.”

Grimaudo said that necessary measures have been taken to ensure staff in the existing building is secure but that emergency exits are lacking for employees working in the basement. Further, he said the dearth of adequate space has curtailed the hiring of more city employees.

The town hall proposal is the latest in a series of expenditures in St. Lazare within Grimaudo’s mandate including a $9 million investment in the water filtration plant over the last three years, a new Public Works building completed in 2013, almost $10 million in road repair costs, and a fire station scheduled to open in 2016 that came with a $5.2 million price tag.

“I’m not denying that we’re spending a lot of money,” said Grimaudo. “Unfortunately, it (necessary work) was not done in the past and we’re doing it now. The last real infrastructure that needs to be done is the town hall.” A communiqué issued this week said the new town hall has been on the list of municipal projects since 2006 and is included in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Three-Year Capital Expenditure Programme.

An overview of the project will be presented to St. Lazare residents Saturday, November 21, at 10 a.m. at the St. Lazare Community Centre, 1301 rue du Bois. Individual tables representing different facets of the project, including recreation, infrastructure, and legal issues, manned by respective experts will be set up to address questions from the attendees.

On Tuesday, November 24, a town registry will be held where those opposing the project can, as per the democratic process, sign their names to a list indicating their position. If over 500 citizens sign in opposition, council may then hold a referendum on the issue.

“If the population tells us they don’t want us to build a town hall, we won’t build it,” said Grimaudo. “But whether we do it now or in the future, eventually we will have to do something.”

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