Council majority votes to demolish Ste. Anne’s hose tower
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
A view of the hose tower atop Ste. Anne’s city hall looking east from the Galipeault Bridge. A majority of council voted in favour of demolishing the structure, a move on which Mayor Paola Hawa invoked a reconsideration to next month’s council meeting.
An iconic piece of Ste. Anne de Bellevue’s historical past could become a memory after a council majority vote in favour of demolishing the hose tower that sits atop city hall, at the Monday evening council meeting on August 15.
The six councillors and Mayor Paola Hawa cast their individual votes after a motion was presented to proceed with a request for demolition to the city’s demolition committee. Councillors Francis Juneau, Daniel Boyer, Yvan Labelle and Michel Boudreault voted for the motion. Councillors Dana Chevalier, Ryan Young and Mayor Hawa voted against.
In response to the decision, Hawa invoked a political process called a ‘right of reconsideration’ to give council another 30 days to review the motion. It will then be voted on at the next council meeting on September 12 and if a majority again votes in favour, the request for demolition will proceed.
At issue is the estimated additional $30,000 cost for the tower’s renovation as opposed to its demolition, said Hawa. “It’s a worthwhile expenditure that would preserve an important part of Ste. Anne’s history. This is a matter of respecting the patrimony and heritage of the village.”
An online petition on the Remembering Ste. Anne’s Facebook page was started three days ago by resident Jean-Marc Richard requesting the city preserves the tower and has already generated a lot of interest from residents. “People are hopping mad and they’re signing the petition,” said Hawa.
District 2 Councillor Young said the tower should be preserved because of its historical importance. “I care about our history and the hose tower is a landmark that identifies the village because it’s got the name of the city right on top,” he said. “Whether people are on a boat, or when they drive, bike or walk over the Galipeault Bridge, it’s the first thing they see. This is how people know they’re in Ste. Anne’s.”
District 6 Councillor Boudreault said he voted for the demolition as a cost-saving measure. “This has been my position since last September,” Boudreault told Your Local Journal after the meeting. “It’s not that historical. If it was, it would have been renovated at the same time as the facade at city hall three years ago. To renovate it will cost a lot more than demolishing it and it doesn’t look very nice.”
He said another structure could be built sometime in the future. “We can look at putting in something else that is more modern and gives a better image of the city,” said Boudreault. “Right now you look at it, the letters are not equal and it’s not pretty. We have the choice to save money by demolishing it or to put a lot more money to renovate and keep it this way. At least for four of us, our decision is unanimous.”
Hawa said the reason the tower was not included as part of the city hall renovation at the time was because it was added in 1936 and did not fall within the criteria required when a provincial government grant was awarded for the renovation of heritage structures built in 1930 and before.
The tower enabled firefighters who were housed at city hall at the time, to dry out their hoses after fighting a blaze. “It also served two other purposes,” said Hawa. “First, at 9 p.m. a signal would be sent out to tell children to get off the streets and go home. Second, it would send out various Morse code signals to the volunteer firefighters throughout the city to let them know where a fire was located.”