2015 - The year in review: Part 2


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

JUNE

St. Lazare reinstates spring pick-up after “leaf storm” of discontent

John Jantak

Saying town council didn’t anticipate the uproar over a simple decision, Mayor Robert Grimaudo announced June 2 that it will reinstate its springtime leaf collection service in 2016. A petition with more than 200 signatures was presented by a resident during question period that asked for the service to be reinstated. “The council had already decided that we will review our position on leaf pick-up in 2016,” Grimaudo told Your Local Journal. “We decided there will be a spring and fall pick up next year, but it will be done under a different formula. I don’t know what that formula will be yet, but it will be different.” Some residents openly criticized the town for cancelling this year’s spring leaf pick-up, saying they didn’t have the space on their properties or the resources to properly compost or mulch the huge mound of leaves they rake, which can easily amount to over 100 bags per residence in some heavily-wooded areas.

PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Librarian cuts hit school community hard

Carmen Marie Fabio

The special council of commissioners meeting called by the LBPSB to announce the appointment of Michael Chechile as new DG of the Board was overshadowed by the standing-room-only crowd who turned out to denounce the cuts to librarian and documentation technician staff. While LBPSB Chair Suanne Stein Day agreed the cuts were “not a good idea” she said the board no longer had choices. “I have very little faith the government will come back and give us the funds we need to reinstate these positions.” The board announced in September that it was able to retain some librarian positions to ensure elementary school libraries would be supported in some capacity.

PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Hudson resident charged with 10 counts following June 12 accident released on bail

Carmen Marie Fabio

Jordan Taylor was released on $10,000 bail June 17 following the June 12 accident on Cambridge Street in Hudson that left 21-year-old Tina Lyon Adams in critical condition in hospital and a friend minor injuries. On Monday, June 15, 23-year Taylor appeared at the Valleyfield Courthouse where he was charged with 10 counts – five for each victim - of impaired driving, impaired driving causing bodily harm, having a blood alcohol level exceeding the legal limit, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, and criminal negligence. He was held in custody until June 17. “He’s been released on the condition he doesn’t drive, doesn’t consume alcohol, live at his address and get permission from the court if he wants to change address, and not communicate with a list of witnesses except to prepare for his defense in the presence of his lawyer,” said Taylor’s lawyer Philip Schneider. His next court date is February 26, 2016.

PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Ste. Anne’s overpass demolition

Carmen Marie Fabio

It took four years, countless meetings, a few petitions, and a new mayor to finally move the Ste. Anne de Bellevue overpass debacle forward and, as of the morning of June 16, the first of two long unused overpasses at Exit 41 on Highway 40 westbound were demolished. “The very first thing I did as mayor was to mandate a study to see what the actual cost would be to repair the overpasses or to demolish them and build a T-intersection,” said Mayor Paola Hawa, elected in November 2013. The 50-year-old overpasses were closed following an engineering inspection that reportedly questioned their structural integrity. Motorists who had previously relied on the exit to access Boulevard des Anciens Combattants were forced to take a later exit and double back until the town built a temporary road late last summer allowing Exit 41 to reopen.

PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Truck plunges off Île aux Tourtes Bridge

Carmen Marie Fabio

A truck driver suffered minor injuries when the 18-wheeler he was driving westbound over the Île aux Tourtes span early June 19 slid into the concrete barriers and toppled over into the Ottawa River below. A pair of fisherman in a nearby boat pulled the driver to safety. Witnesses report seeing smoke coming from the truck along with the smell of burning rubber. Sgt. Gino Paré of the SQ said alcohol was not a factor in the accident.

PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

NEB orders hydrostatic testing on portions of Enbridge pipeline

Carmen Marie Fabio

Though Enbridge Pipeline Inc.’s 9B reversal plan to pump diluted bitumen from Alberta to Montreal East through the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region was recently given the green light, it comes contingent on conditions resulting in a bittersweet conclusion in a longfought battle by citizen activist groups. The June 18 ruling by the National Energy Board (NEB) determined that before 9B is operational, hydrostatic testing must be performed on portions of the line in Ontario including Hilton, a part between Kingston and Brockville, and also in Mirabel, Quebec. This follows a February ruling seeking additional shut-off valve installation. “We’re very happy, however we still have some issues,” said Citoyens au courant spokesperson Lorraine Caron, “the first being which areas they’re going to hydrotest.” Caron questioned why the stretch of pipeline under the Ottawa River, typically subject to more than usual corrosion, was not chosen.

PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

JULY

Greater than Tar Sands group protests at Jack Layton Park in Hudson

Carmen Marie Fabio

A flotilla of over 100 paddlers headed out on the Lake of Two Mountains off the shores of Hudson as part of the ‘We are Greater than Tar Sands’ cross-Canada protest Saturday, July 4. Representatives from grassroots organizations including Coule pas Chez Nous, Citoyens au Courant, Climate Justice Montreal, and even the Raging Grannies took stage in Jack Layton Park to denounce the Harper Government’s tar sands’ project. Following speeches and music, individuals and groups headed out in kayaks and canoes in a colourful contingent across the water to Oka. “This activity is to encourage awareness raising and for bringing attention to the importance of the Ottawa River, as Montreal’s most important source of drinking water,” said Citoyens au Courant representative Katherine Massam. “The Quebec Government, along with Enbridge, think the risk the pipeline poses is acceptable. I happen to disagree and so does everyone here.”

PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Hudson commemorates 25-year anniversary of Oka Crisis

Carmen Marie Fabio

Under a sunny blue sky, a light breeze, and the grace of centuries-old pines, a procession of Kanesatake residents set off on a commemorative march at 10:30 a.m. July 11, 25 years to the day of the Oka Crisis that saw a simmering land dispute result in a standoff that would grip the community, placing it on the world stage for the next 78 days. “The Town of Hudson played a significant role during the summer of 1990,” said Chief Lourena Montour to the assembled dignitaries, guests, and media who gathered in Kanesatake for Remembrance Events that spanned the entire weekend. “Kanesatake has had strong economic ties with Hudson. This deep-rooted relationship and history motivated the townspeople of Hudson to take action to support Kanesatake at a time when we needed support.” Those in attendance stopped short of calling the event a ceremony saying the pain the community endured a quarter century ago when the neighbouring Town of Oka sought to expand a golf course by encroaching onto a native burial ground, and the ensuing standoff , was not something to be celebrated. “All our residents were profoundly affected at that time,” read Hudson Mayor Ed Prévost from a framed letter presented to Kanesatake Chief Serge Simon, “and many risked arrest by transporting food and other necessities as best they could across the pond. We stood by you through those difficult times and we stand with you today.”

PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Ragweed Wanted – Dead!

Carmen Marie Fabio

With ragweed season in full bloom, the Town of Hudson launched an innovative way of inviting citizen involvement in clearing private property of the allergen by putting a bounty of $0.10 a kilo on the loathsome crop. And Parks and Recreation Director Julia Schroeder decided to make the payout even more interesting by upping the ante. “I personally will offer $100 of my own money as a reward for the person who brings in the most ragweed by the cut-off date,” she said. Until September 14, residents were asked to bring the harvested weed, roots included, to the Parks and Recreation office where it was weighed and paid. Plants must not have been treated with pesticides and dirt from the roots must be shaken clean. The contest was won by an enterprising 7-year-old Boy Scout named Kyle Secours (above, centre) whose diligence and hard work led to the accumulation of 140 kg of the offending plant.

PHOTO JOHN JANTAK

Appeals court sides with Pincourt Sports Complex owners

John Jantak

The Quebec Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Groupe Thibault Rhéaume et Associés Inc. regarding the group’s plans to complete renovations to the Pincourt Sports Complex and ice hockey arena complex in Pincourt. The unanimous decision from the Court of Appeal was announced August 31, and was delivered by the Honourable Justice Jean- François Émond who dismissed the appeal made by Paul Roy and 8280959 Canada Inc. In a press release issued by the town, Mayor Yvan Cardinal stated, “The rejection of the appeal confirms the legality of the procedures followed by the Town of Pincourt… Therefore, the Court of Appeal’s judgement will enable Groupe Thibault and Pincourt to move forward. The town is confident the citizens of the island will soon have access to quality infrastructure to practice their favourite sport. The advent of an arena in Pincourt will be an important asset for the area.”

PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

SEPTEMBER

Hudson Town Council welcomes new DG

James Armstrong

Hudson Mayor Ed Prévost welcomed Jean-Pierre Roy as the town’s new Director General, chosen from a roster of 37 candidates who applied for the position. “He comes to us with 20 years of experience in municipal affairs,” said the mayor noting Roy speaks three languages, French, English and Spanish.

PHOTO BY KEL DEEGAN

La petite séduction shines a spotlight on Hudson

Stephanie O’Hanley

The focus was on Hudson when a television crew from the popular Radio-Canada show La petite séduction came to visit and featured the town in the show’s 11th season, which airs next spring. Hudsonites and their neighbours helped host Dany Turcotte (centre) thrill Quebec actress Maude Guérin (front) as she was shown the sights around town. Kel Deegan, a Hudson resident who was part of the organizing team, said the show asks somebody famous in Quebec a series of questions and then looks, 'for a town that can offer what this person’s dreams are.' “Hudson had everything they needed,” said Deegan. From a tourism perspective the show offered Hudson very good exposure at a low cost, said Nicolas Pedneault, Hudson’s Director of Tourism and Culture. “We’ll be coast to coast across Canada and they have one million viewers. It’s the most popular summer show in Canada in French.”

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Ste. Anne reunited with official reopening of Exit 41

John Jantak

After more than four years of being closed, Exit 41 along the westbound highway 40 service road at Ste. Anne de Bellevue was officially reopened October 2. The completion of the long-awaited project also meant northbound traffic from Boulevard des Anciens-Combattants was able to connect to Chemin Ste. Marie in the city’s northern district. “To me, this is the best part of it – we are a united city again,” Mayor Paola Hawa said noting the project fulfills a promise she made during her election campaign in October 2013. “We hit the ground running and we got it done.” Ste. Anne’s Executive Director Martin Bonhomme said the total cost of the construction project was $3.1 million – $1.7 million which came from the MTQ and $1.4 million from the city.

PHOTO COURTESY VAUDREUIL-SOULANGES MRC

Enbridge pipeline reversal decision a bitter pill for residents

Jules-Pierre Malartre

On September 30, the National Energy Board (NEB) gave Enbridge the all-clear for its controversial line reversal and pressure increase project on the 40-year-old pipeline 9B, an unexpected decision that irked a number of regional stakeholders, including the MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges that lobbied for full hydrostatic pressure testing along the pipeline. “This is a very disappointing result, and I share the MRC’s reaction,” incumbent NDP Member of Parliament Jamie Nicholls said.

MRC Prefect Jean Lalonde said the MRC was bitterly disappointed by its October 2 meeting with NEB representatives, a meeting that had been scheduled in order for the NEB to explain its decision. “Once again, we come out of a meeting with more questions than answers,” Lalonde said.

YLJ FILE PHOTO/JAMES ARMSTRONG

Rigaud holds Federal Government responsible for National Energy Board decision

James Armstrong

In direct response to the recent decision by the National Energy Board (NEB) of Canada allowing the Enbridge pipeline 9B flow reversal of diluted bitumen through its territory, the Town of Rigaud officially gave notice to the Prime Minister of Canada that the town is holding the federal government responsible for any consequences resulting from that decision. Council passed the notice, in the form of a letter, unanimously at the October council meeting. The letter states the measure was taken as the pipeline in question is 40 years old and repeated requests for hydrostatic testing by municipalities in the area were not fulfilled. “We are saying that because the pipeline crosses our territory and hydrostatic testing was not done, we are holding the federal government responsible for anything that happens.”

PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

OCTOBER

Red wave washes through Vaudreuil-Soulanges riding

James Armstrong

“Thank you for letting me realize my dream of representing all of you as the Member of Parliament for Vaudreuil-Soulanges,” said Peter Schiefke to the crowd of supporters on winning his seat in the federal election. “My job is about helping to realize the needs, wants, dreams and desires of the people of Vaudreuil- Soulanges.” When asked how he felt about his victory, Schiefke replied, “Surreal, I think is the best word to describe the feeling. To see so many people putting their trust in me means a great deal to me.” He attributed the win in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges riding to Justin Trudeau’s plan and promises. “I am looking forward to putting in place that plan and keeping all the promises we have made.”

IMAGE COURTESY VILLE DE SAINT-LAZARE

St. Lazare Town Hall project to go ahead following November 24 registry

Jules-Pierre Malartre

A total of 483 residents showed up November 24 to sign St. Lazare’s registry against the $9.4 million loan by-law for the new proposed Town Hall, short of the 500 signatures that would have been required to oppose the by-law and either scrap the project, or send it into referendum. The proposed project has met opposition from some residents, mainly over cost. “We have been completely transparent,” said Mayor Robert Grimaudo. “We showed all the maximum costs. It won’t cost $10 million, we know. But when we prepare a loan by-law, MAMOT asks that we go for the maximum.” Grimaudo said the resulting municipal tax increase would not exceed $63.

YLJ FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Hudson facing ethics investigation

James Armstrong and Carmen Marie Fabio

Hudson Mayor Ed Prévost said a formal ethics complaint had been filed against him with MAMOT by an undisclosed individual and had resulted in a negative impact on himself, his family and friends. “I assure you that all of these insinuations will be proven to be what they are: malicious attempts to smear the town, the council and yours truly.” He said the legal issues have absorbed the energy and finances that should have been dedicated to building Hudson’s future. “Now that I know who the conspirators are, I will not back down.” Legal costs comprise $95,438.15 with approximately $67,462 spent on battles with former DG Catherine Haulard. A resolution passed mandating legal proceedings against the defamation of Town of Hudson employees on social media also raised a question regarding costs. “It’s shameful that we have to put something like this in our minutes,” said Councillor Nicole Durand. “We have to protect our employees from false allegations.”

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

St. Lazare asked to rein in spending

John Jantak

With residential property taxes in St. Lazare set to increase by an average of 4.1 per cent, some residents are calling on town council to curb its spending after its 2016 budget was adopted December 15. For homeowners, the hike will raise property taxes by about $120 based on a house evaluated at $370,000, roughly the same increase as in 2015, said Mayor Robert Grimaudo. “Our council is here to make the hard decisions and sometimes they’re decisions that might lose you an election,” Grimaudo added. “They’re making the decisions they’re making because it’s good for the population of St. Lazare.”

YLJ FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Ste. Anne de Bellevue scheduled budget meeting cancelled

Carmen Marie Fabio

Citing an insurmountable impasse within council, Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa announced the scheduled Budget 2016 information session that was to be held December 15 was cancelled. “Of course you cannot propose a budget if you cannot agree on what the budget is,” she said. “One of the big hurdles to the operation’s budget is whether or not to cut one specific position within the administration,” Hawa said. “We are not a private company, we’re a municipality, and part of our responsibility is to provide quality service to our residents.” The situation needs to be resolved and the town’s budget approved before it issues tax bills by January 15, 2016. If not, Hawa said the cost to the town will be $63,000 a month in interest on its financial obligations to repaying Agglomeration expenses. “I can tell you, that is way more than what it would cost us to maintain that (contested) position.”

YLJ FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Former Hudson DG Louise Léger-Villandré pleads guilty

Carmen Marie Fabio

After previously vowing she would not plead guilty, the Town of Hudson’s former DG Louise Léger- Villandré (right) pleaded guilty December 10 to six of the 19 charges of fraud in the misappropriation of $1.1 million in municipal funds over a 17-year period. “The charges include breach of trust and four counts of use of a forged document,” said Crown Prosecutor Mathieu Longpré. There was a stay of proceedings on the other counts. Hudson’s DG Jean-Pierre Roy said the town is exploring other possible civil action against Léger-Villandré to recoup the money and is hoping to have access to evidence taken by UPAC investigators. Léger-Villandré will be sentenced February 22, 2016

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