• Carmen Marie Fabio

New St. Lazare Town Hall expected to break ground this month


PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

St. Lazare Mayor Robert Grimaudo said the old town hall demolition should be done within a week and the new project, awarded to Lavacon Construction Inc., should break ground before the end of the month and projected to be ready by June, 2017.

After falling 17 signatures short on a November 2015 registry to oppose a $9.4 million loan by-law for a new Town Hall, St. Lazare began demolishing its current Chemin Sainte-Angélique structure August 31 in preparation for the ground breaking of the new building, beginning before the end of September.

“Things are pretty much on schedule,” said Mayor Robert Grimaudo. “If all goes well, we should be in (the new office) in early June of next year.”

The contract was awarded to Lavacon Construction Inc. in June, 2015, for its bid of $7.7 million before taxes, and roughly $8.9 million after taxes. Grimaudo said further reductions in the final price tag will come in the form of reimbursement of a percentage of provincial sales tax and all the federal taxes paid on the project, as well as a $1 million subsidy from the provincial government from an infrastructure program offered to municipalities adding new buildings.

“Because we have a room dedicated to community use, available to all non-profit organizations in St. Lazare, we’re eligible for the subsidy.”

Despite vocal opposition to the project at town council meetings and on social media, Grimaudo defended the project, saying it’s been 20 years in the making and is the last major infrastructure project in St. Lazare that needed to be replaced.

“We’ve taken care of all the other infrastructure projects including the new fire hall, public works, and $9 million on the water filtration plant,” Grimaudo said. “Infrastructure may not be sexy, but it’s necessary.”

Resident Marc-André Esculier, who is also running in the upcoming September 25 by-election for District 4 councillor, has consistently questioned the need for the town hall project’s ‘extravagant’ price tag and has made this opposition part of his campaign platform.

Since the early 1970s, St. Lazare’s town hall was situated in a former school house built in the 1950s, a structure Grimaudo said was appropriate when the town’s population was 7,000 but inadequate since it has grown to just under 20,000.

“In my 2013 (mayoral) campaign, on all my pamphlets and business cards, the first word was ‘infrastructure’,” said Grimaudo. “I was elected to take care of what needed to be done and that’s what we’ve done in three years. This council has a lot to be proud of. They’ve done what the previous three, four, five councils did not do.”

For more photos and a video of the demolition, see our Facebook page.

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