• John Jantak

Marc-André Esculier wins St. Lazare council seat


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Marc-André Esculier, who won the St. Lazare District 4 council seat in last Sunday’s by-election, will be officially sworn in as councillor on Friday, September 30.

Marc-André Esculier is the new St. Lazare District 4 councillor after winning a by-election on Sunday, September 25, easily defeating the five other candidates who were vying for the same spot.

Esculier received 233 votes from the 610 ballots that were counted. Former Councillor Michel Lambert came in second with 137 votes, followed by Hugo Castonguay with 89 votes; Martin Couture, 73 votes; Paul Lavigne, 46 votes; and Alvaro Martinez, 42 votes.

Esculier said he was very pleased with his victory that fills the spot vacated by former councillor Denis Briard who abruptly resigned from his position almost two months ago for undisclosed reasons.

“Obviously, I feel great,” Esculier told Your Local Journal. “I worked really hard and went door-to-door more than any other candidate for the past three-and-a-half weeks non-stop. I spoke to at least 200 to 300 people and spent an average of 15 minutes listening to their concerns. I really wanted to get the pulse of the people and the conditions they’re living in.”

A regular attendee of the town’s monthly council meetings, Esculier has taken Mayor Robert Grimaudo and the current municipal administration to task for what he feels is unnecessary extravagant spending especially when it comes to the up to $10 million price tag for the new town hall and the town’s past two Festival au Galop equestrian events.

While he has publicly stated he’s not opposed to a new town hall or festival, Esculier is especially critical of the cost of the town hall that he feels could have been built for much less if the scope of the project was scaled back, which would have reduced the overall tax burden that residents will have to bear in the future.

Esculier also feels the town hall project could have been put on hold for a few years to deal with more pressing concerns. Rather than neglecting the needs of the residents who live in District 4, he said that if the town administration was more financially prudent, they could have used a portion of the town hall project funds to deal with the ongoing foundation and water infiltration problems that some homeowners have in the area.

“My saddest discovery was that these are all people who love St. Lazare and chose to live here,” said Esculier. “Many people are living somewhat of a nightmare with serious drainage and sewer backup problems. Some people have up to three sump pumps running simultaneously 24 hours a day. They all feel their problems have been ignored by the town.

“They want change and somebody who will be able to represent them,” Esculier added. “I didn’t promise any miracles to anybody. I told them I’ll be a lone voice just as the previous councillor was. What I represent is an alternative voice who will debate ideas. I’m not going to fight; I’m going to propose different ideas to show there are alternatives.”

Esculier also foresees significant problems ahead in regards to the town’s urban development plan. With four separate residential projects that are slated to create about 1000 new homes in the area around Boulevard de la Cité-des-Jeunes and Chemin Ste-Angelique within the next five years, Esculier said the town’s current road infrastructure will not be able to handle the projected 2000 or more additional vehicles.

“These are major projects that will affect the entire population of St. Lazare,” said Esculier. “The 1000 new homes also will be hooked up to the town’s aquifer which is already low. There will also be more sewers which will funnel into the sewer lagoons that are behind the new school which many people don’t know about in the H-300 residential project on Ste-Angelique.”

When asked for a comment regarding Esculier’s by-election victory, Mayor Grimaudo replied, “Democracy has spoken. Whether I agree or disagree with his campaigning style, it’s irrelevant. We will work with Mr. Esculier as we do with all elected officials.”