Six candidates competing for town council seat in Rigaud District 3
YLJ FILE PHOTO/JAMES ARMSTRONG
The up-coming by-election on Sunday, June 12, in the Town of Rigaud District 3 has sparked a six-way electoral competition. The election, necessitated by the March death of highly respected Councillor Michel Sauvé, has motivated six residents to step into the municipal political arena. A brief outline of the platform of each candidate follows.
William Bradley, a long-time resident of Rigaud on Point Séguin, sees many important issues in the upcoming election.
“There are a lot of reasons not to develop Rigaud Mountain,” said Bradley citing the difficulties of installing septic systems and wells for large-scale development. “I’ve heard there are issues with the levels of water in wells dropping on Saint-Georges,” he added.
For Bradley, there are also issues with potable water in the rest of the town, the lack of clear drinking water and the high levels of chlorination. He contends that leaking pipes in the town water system are the cause for drops in water pressure and said cross contamination from the sewage system also occurs.
As a resident of Point Séguin, Bradley has first-hand experience of the problems surrounding the neighborhood boat launch. “We end up with trucks and trailers parked along the road making it difficult to get in or out.” He said it creates a public security risk for emergency vehicles. “There’s very little policing of the situation,” he added.
Bradley is not a supporter of the new fire station, town hall and municipal garage projects because of the cost. According to his campaign literature, District 3 does not receive services equal to the amount of property taxes paid. “We are subsidizing the central part of Rigaud… we are not getting potable water nor the same fire protection the town gets,” he states emphasizing police and fire costs are over $2 million per year and that many District 3 residents live beyond the radius of effective protection and services.
Édith de Haerne
As an 11-year resident of Rigaud and a local business owner, Édith de Haerne sees much that needs to happen in the town. “It’s important and necessary to protect the mountain,” she said. “We need to keep what we have. It is the only forested area in Vaudreuil-Soulanges and developing the space is very difficult.”
As co-owner of Del Fiacco Restaurant in the heart of town, she is aware of the need to repair and upgrade infrastructure. “A lot of people tell me the roads need to be taken care of,” said de Haerne noting many small roads appear to have been forgotten and others come under provincial jurisdiction. “Speed limits are such a big issue because they are not being observed.”
The motivation to get involved in municipal politics came from her involvement in local business affairs as president of the Business Association of Rigaud (AGAR) and participation on the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Vaudreuil-Soulanges. “It is time,” she said noting that it is also time for Rigaud to have a woman as a town councillor again.
“I see a lot of potential for Rigaud,” said de Haerne referring to its economic development and looks forward to the new town hall construction. “Bringing the town hall back to downtown is the best thing they could have done,” she said of its accessibility for citizens.
It was the lure of living on Rigaud Mountain that brought Alain Magnan and his wife Michelle Lauzon and family to town slightly over four years ago. “We found a place next to Les Sentiers De L’Escapade on chemin Saint-Georges,” said Magnan where they proceeded to build a barn for their three horses.
Magnan is a supporter of protecting the mountain in conjunction with controlled planned development. “It (the mountain) is a source of revenue for the town, but that’s not the only thing,” said Magnan. “I’m all for protecting the mountain but not at any cost.” As president of the equestrian club Monts et Vallons, Magnan says he found an opportunity to contribute to the community as a volunteer. “I’m not for big developments of 50 or 60 houses and cutting down all the trees without thinking about it,” he said.
“We have to protect the waterfront,” he noted in reference to the areas of District 3 along the Ottawa River. “The city needs a long-term plan to purchase waterfront property.”
With a 25-year career at Bombardier where he started as a mechanical designer and moved up the corporate ladder, Magnan said his administrative, planning and certification experience in the corporate world will have value in the civic milieu. Although this is his first run at municipal politics, he knows the value of being involved in the community. “This is my first time and as I am looking at retirement, this is an opportunity to give something back,” he added.
Yves Pelletier is well known in Rigaud for his involvement as coordinator of the annual Senior Citizens Salon. “This year is the third edition,” he said with enthusiasm. The rights of citizens, particularly senior citizens, have always been part of Pelletier’s life. Before retiring, he worked for 35 years as an ombudsman for the Québec Department of Justice at the Palais de Justice Montréal. More recently, he volunteers as the regional president for the Montérégie region of the Québec Retired Public and Para Public Workers and is first Vice President of the Round Table of Seniors in the Montérégie.
“I work for everyone – I have also worked to defend the rights of senior citizens,” adding one of the dossiers that concerns him is the recent loss of a doctor at the local medical clinic. “Perhaps there is a way for the town to collaborate with clinics to improve the situation – it is something really important,” said Pelletier.
“The preservation of Rigaud Mountain is essential,” he said. “I chose to live in Rigaud for the tranquility, the peace and quiet,” he added. “One day we will find that we no longer have the cachet of what Rigaud is.”
If elected, he said he’ll support controlled development of the mountain carefully and slowly in certain areas.
Ronald Perrier decided to run for municipal office because, after living in the town for 10 years, sees things he would like to influence such as urbanism. “We have heard a lot about eco-tourism but not a lot seems to be actually happening in that area,” he said. “There should be opportunities for agro-tourism given that 60 per cent of the territory is agricultural,” he added.
“There could be farms that also have a bed and breakfast or camping facility,” he said, adding that education in animal husbandry and crop growing could also be part of the plan. For him, this also relates to eco-tourism on Rigaud Mountain.
“If we are going to do something with the mountain, we need to get everyone’s point of view,” he said of protecting the area where he lives. He noted a wide variety of activities happen on the mountain from snowmobiling and skiing in winter, to horseback riding, cycling, hiking, and ATVs throughout the year. “There are examples of multi-use forest areas in Ontario and everyone happily coexists,” he added.
Fluently bilingual, Perrier said he’s surprised by the number of English-speaking citizens in Rigaud. “I volunteered at the plant table on Saturday morning and met quite a few people. It’s amazing how much English I hear everywhere in town.”
Perrier looks forward to being involved in the development and evaluation of projects for the town. With a 50-year background in small business and commercial financing, he brings a lot of sound evaluation experience to the council table.
Running for council appeals to Sandra Stephenson for three reasons: protection and development of Rigaud Mountain, the absence of a female representative on town council, and the need to represent the different interests in the town.
Although not a resident of District 3, Stephenson has lived in the oldest house in Rigaud at the edge of the river close to the heart of town for 30 years. She has a history of working with other residents to preserve the mountain that is largely privately owned. “I was part of a group that worked to protect the mountain over 20 years ago,” said Stephenson. “We managed to put together $600,000 worth of grants in an effort to purchase more than 500 hectares of mountain land,” she said adding that, unfortunately, the deal fell apart.
She is greatly interested in the current efforts of the town and Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC to create a long-term solution. “It will have to be a compromise between saving the mountain and having some development.”
With a background in farming, Stephenson sees a need to represent the farming community in the district and what used to be the Parish of Sainte-Madeleine-de-Rigaud. She understands that agriculture is an important component of the local economy and farmers need to be heard at the municipal government level.
The issue of potable water and water quality available in Rigaud is important to Stephenson. “Over the years, there have been contamination problems with one of the wells,” she said noting that specific issue has been resolved but many residents now have to deal with discolored water with a high chlorine content.
Fluently bilingual, Stephenson has a long career as a teacher in the Humanities, Philosophy and Religion Department of John Abbott College in Ste. Anne de Bellevue. Her volunteer interests include Le Botryche Boutique artists co-operative and L’Épervière primary school.