• James Armstrong

Hudson’s Mayor Ed Prévost welcomed back to monthly council meeting


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

For the first time in several months, all seats were filled at Hudson’s town council table for the regular monthly meeting.

Mayor Ed Prévost was warmly welcomed back to the regular monthly town council meeting held Monday, July 4, by Pro-Mayor Barbara Robinson and council members. He expressed gratitude to the active members of council who filled in during his absence. As he enumerated the functions they had carried out during his absence, Prévost said, “It made me realize the burden of the workload your council assumes.” Prévost said the gossip regarding his departure “politically and otherwise” is not going to happen. “I take this mandate seriously and continue to believe that I can make a difference with council’s support,” he said, adding he’s been kept up to date on town business by Director General Jean-Pierre Roy and council members.

The mayor’s prolonged absence has been due to health issues. “The key determinant has been, and will be, managing a dysfunctional liver,” he said noting that treatment has not been easy and required spending several days per week in hospital. Although Prévost remained at the table for the duration of the meeting, Robinson chaired the meeting. Council extended her mandate as pro-mayor until September when Councillor Deborah Woodhead will assume the role.

Prévost also commented on the ongoing process regarding 150 ethical conduct allegations brought against him by District 1 Councillor Robert Spencer. “Two thirds of those allegations were the object of a special presentation by the prosecutor of the Quebec Municipal Commission,” said Prévost, adding the prosecutor recommended the allegations be thrown out for lack of proof. Prévost said a written judgment is expected soon regarding the prosecutor’s recommendation and the remaining balance of the allegations will be dealt with in October. He commented that litigation does not build a town and said it’s clearly evident the town has lost its focus on the ‘big picture’ of the strategic plan and Hudson’s future.

Robinson also addressed several strategic plan issues in her opening remarks, saying misinformation was being spread on social media. “Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they should be certain that information is correct,” she said of the claim circulated online that council was planning to buy Hudson Yacht Club and put the town further into debt. “That information was misinterpreted,” she said. “As stated many, many times, the strategic plan is a vision based upon information, suggestions, and ideas provided from public consultations.”

Various budget costs associated with the proposed strategic plan came under fire during question period. The 300-seat performing arts centre envisioned for somewhere on the waterfront is no longer on the table according to Councillor Natalie Best. “We have said that our strategic plan will evolve from the working groups that are formed,” said Best. “When we put together our plan, the idea was that it would be an arts and culture centre that will bring all of that together.”

She added the financial projections for a performing arts centre no longer applied. The mayor said there are now five citizen groups that will deal with how the strategic plan will evolve.

Petition to protect Sandy Beach

Resident Daniel Gautier expressed concerns about population densification and property development in the area of Sandy Beach and Jack Layton Park. Gautier said concerned citizens have started a petition asking the town to hold a referendum on the subject. He applauded the efforts of the Town of Rigaud for developing a protection plan for Rigaud Mountain and made the case for a similar plan for the waterfront area in question in Hudson. Gautier said the DG had referred to a development plan for the area during a conversation on a previous occasion.

Councillor Deborah Woodhead replied there are currently no plans for development in the waterfront area before the Town Planning Advisory Committee (TPAC) and that Sandy Beach is privately owned. It was explained by Councillor Nicole Durand that in 2001 the town had the opportunity to purchase the beach. The DG explained that he was referring to the 2001 plans and not to anything current.

Return of an absent councillor

Councillor Spencer was present at the meeting and said his protracted absence from council and caucus meetings were due to a change in his career. “This past year I started teaching at Rosemont Technology Centre,” said Spencer, explaining most of the classes are in the evenings and when his teaching schedule conflicted with town meetings, he had chosen to teach. Spencer said he would attend as many council meetings as possible.

Resident Bill Nash queried Spencer during the second question period as to his motivation for making the allegations against the mayor. Spencer declined to answer because the process is continuing. Nash replied he wasn’t asking for details but wanted to know what Spencer’s objectives were in making the allegations. Spencer replied only that his reasons were contained within the complaint. When pressed further by Nash, he responded that he wanted the Québec government to know about them.

When asked by Nash about his continued presence as a Town Councillor, Spencer said that was up to the residents of District 1. “I have a responsibility to serve the residents who voted for me for council… I have a responsibility to serve on council to the best of my ability,” said Spencer. He pointed to his years of experience as a councillor, his knowledge of municipal affairs, and that serving on council is a part-time position. “I think it is the residents of Hudson, the residents of District 1, who have a say in this, as to whether I continue as a councillor or not,” Spencer said adding if residents thought that he could not adequately represent them they should let him know and he would act accordingly. He also said it’s not up to the councillors or DG to determine who sits on council, referring to an agenda item dealing with his absences that was removed.

During the question period, several residents expressed their support for Spencer commenting he should be granted similar respect for his absence as other elected officials.

Tension between Spencer and other councillors became apparent when he raised a question regarding a resolution read by Best. She replied that if he had attended caucus meetings he would know what the resolution was about.

In other business, council approved the sale of property for unpaid taxes as of December 31, 2015. The auction will take place Thursday, September 22, at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre at 11 a.m.

During his opening remarks, the Mayor announced that the official opening of the new Le Nichoir building would be on Thursday, July 7. Upon verification with Le Nichoir, YLJ has learned that the official opening is postponed until a later date. The annual open house will take place on the Le Nichoir grounds Saturday, July 30.

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