• James Armstrong

Building restrictions on Rigaud Mountain sparks discussion at council meeting


Accompanied by a neighbour, Rigaud Mountain property owner Debra Witten (left) raises questions about the town’s plans to protect the mountain.

Although not on the official agenda, protecting Rigaud Mountain was a hot topic of discussion during the Rigaud Town Council meeting Monday, August 8. Debra Witten is the owner of three building-lots designated as non-buildable in the housing development on Cabot Street. She is also one of the 26 property owners affected by the March 2016 interim development plan put in place by the Town of Rigaud and the Municipalité Régionale de Comté de Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS).

She questioned Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. regarding various activities that take place on the mountain from hunting with bows arrows, the use of All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles, to gravel quarrying and how much longer they will be allowed to happen. The mayor replied ATV and snowmobile use are going to be reviewed. The quarry, he said, has existed for many years and is allowed to continue its operation but no new quarries will be permitted.

Witten also raised the issue of tree-cutting along the hiking trail at the end of Cabot Street on Rigaud Mountain. The trail is part of the official Rigaud trail system known as Les Sentiers de L’Escapade. “Perfectly healthy beech trees are being cut down,” said Witten. Gruenwald replied that a company had been hired to make the trail conform to the land survey and situate it within the boundaries of town property. “The trail was fine the way it was before. All you’re doing is inviting ATVs and snowmobiles,” she said. The mayor took exception to Witten’s response. “We have been maintaining and developing these trails for 25 years and now you start telling us how to do it?” he replied.

Gruenwald said a new company had been hired by the town to re-evaluate the non-buildable areas lot by lot to verify that no errors had been made. “These things take time and they don’t happen overnight. We are at the beginning of developing a plan to protect the mountain,” said the mayor. He invited Witten to meet with him at a convenient time and said he would do his best to provide the information she needed.

“I am angry that my land has been taken,” said Witten in an interview the following day. The lots in question are forested and are circled by a road and adjoining developed lots. She doesn’t understand why they have been designated as non-buildable and says she has had little success in getting answers from the MRC-VS or the town regarding the criteria used to make the designation.

Forest fire on Rigaud Mountain

A forest fire was reported on Rigaud Mountain Friday, August 5, approximately one kilometer east of the cross on private property. Director General Chantal Lemieux reported that the fire was extinguished with the combined efforts of the Rigaud fire department and the Québec Société de protection de forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU). The fire was in an area difficult to access and destroyed about 43,000 square feet of forest. The likely cause of the blaze was a poorly extinguished campfire contained in a circle of rocks. The fire spread through the forest floor to a depth of six feet consuming tree roots making control more difficult.

Construction contract for new town hall

Council granted the construction contract for the new town hall to Construction Cogela Inc. with a price tag of $4,220,364.

“There will be an official sod-turning ceremony very soon,” said Gruenwald. Meanwhile, the construction of the fire hall moves forward as planned with the foundations now in place.

The replacement of the culvert on chemin Saint-Georges that washed out during a spring rainstorm awaits approval from the Québec government. “We had planned to do the work during the month of August before school buses began,” said Gruenwald. “That may not happen.” Repairs to the bridge over the Rigaud River on Saint John Baptiste Street East have also been delayed with no indication of a new start date.

In other business, council approved a time change for regular monthly council meetings. As of September 2016, Rigaud Town Council meetings will begin at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m.

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