• John Jantak

St. Lazare’s second Festival au Galop comes within budget


PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

The Town of St. Lazare said it paid close attention to issues raised following last year's au Galop equestrian festival and improved traffic and parking conditions.

The second edition St. Lazare’s Festival au Galop that was held last weekend was deemed a resounding success by the town administration and came in within budget, said Mayor Robert Grimaudo at the Tuesday evening council meeting, July 5.

Despite concerns that were raised by some residents prior to the event that the town was squandering taxpayer dollars for an event that wasn’t necessary and would probably go over budget, Grimaudo told residents that cost of the festival didn’t exceed the $350,000 that was allocated this year and a complete breakdown of all expenses would be provided soon.

Controversy erupted last year when the final tally revealed that town spent about $575,000 to stage its first Festival au Galop when it was originally budgeted at $350,000. At the time, Grimaudo said the cost overrun was because the town hadn’t anticipated unforeseen additional costs such as printing banners and posters.

Since the town took care of all the unexpected incidental expenses related to the first festival, those additional costs will no longer factor into future events which is why this year’s event came within budget, said Grimaudo.

Resident Richard Masys, who asked Grimaudo at the June council meeting whether the town could provide a breakdown of expenses related to au Galop, again asked whether town would present a list of all the expenses related to this year’s event.

Grimaudo replied that the final numbers will be ready by next week and available to anyone who wants to see them. Serge Tremblay, the town’s Director General, also reiterated that this year’s festival came within budget.

The Town of St. Lazare said donations collected at the event totaled $4,318 for the Fondation de l’Hôpital du Suroît and $1,562 for the Centre équestre thérapeutique Marie Laurence.

One resident credited the town for finally putting St. Lazare on the map because of its decision to make au Galop an annual event. The official 2016-17 provincial tourist guide for the Montérégie region described St. Lazare as being one of the largest equestrian centres in the province and favourably promoted this year’s festival.

But another resident who complained about a $1000 increase in his property taxes over the past three years said the town was unnecessarily spending money on extravagant projects while retirees and people living on fixed incomes are struggling to make ends meet.

Grimaudo took the criticism in stride and while he didn’t reply directly to the comments, he maintains that as the festival continues to grow in popularity and stature, it will provide the town with an additional source of revenue.

“It’s a great event that represents our entire town,” said Grimaudo. “It brings people from the community together and it’s good for our economy.”

Even though the mayor and city administration were commended for their efforts in getting the festival off the ground, Grimaudo replied that it wasn’t just the council members who promoted the festival that made it successful.

Grimaudo credited everyone involved in its preparation and staging including the town’s blue collar workers, the show’s promoters and sponsors, and the various non-profit organizations that helped to make this year’s event a success.

Council resignation

Denis Briard was spotted at the meeting but he didn’t sit behind his customary seat on council. The former District 4 councillor recently resigned his council seat in mid-June and watched the proceedings as an ordinary citizen, but left immediately after question period was over.

When asked by Your Local Journal if he could provide any details regarding his surprise resignation, Briard replied that he couldn’t for now but would reveal his reasons at a later date. The by-election to fill Briard’s vacant seat will be held on September 25.

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