Letter to the editor 2, Nov. 10, 2016

Dear Editor,

I attended the St. Lazare town council meeting of November and once again, I left feeling disappointed and discouraged.

I feel for the residents of Chaline Valley who put their faith in this town and bought homes here not knowing that their houses had been built on potentially risky soil prone to landslides. These residents have now been hit with the knowledge that they may be responsible for forking out money to replace their septic tank with sewage systems. In addition, they may also be burdened with a sectorial loan by-law to pay for expenses to stabilize the area if engineering firms deem it necessary. Imagine how stressful this situation must be!

Why does this financial burden fall on the home owners? The government and municipalities are responsible for developing the land and studies should have been carried out to ensure that this area was suitable for building.

I have consulted the Planning and Development Powers of Quebec and it clearly states that it is the responsibility of the RCM (regional county municipality) to study the land and place restrictions if need be.

I quote:

“The RCMs must identify zones where occupation of the ground is subject to specific restrictions because of risks to public health, safety and well-being.

The zones with natural restrictions include, in particular, those with:

  • Flooding beyond the riverbanks

  • Erosion caused by water, ice or wind

  • Land-slides consisting of soil, or rock, simple or composite

  • Other catastrophes such as rockslides (blocks of rock), sinking of the ground due to the consolidation or the compaction of the soil, cave-ins due to the collapse of the rock of subterranean cavities, avalanches, seisms (earthquakes).”

So from what I understand, it was the role of the RCM to properly identify zones prior to construction.

I feel that the residents of this town affected by landslides and also those affected by sinking houses are being unfairly burdened. Someone needs to step up and take responsibility for poor planning, and it should not be the fate of the homeowner to fix the mistakes. Who is responsible for the land, surely not the homeowners? How can homeowners predict the quality of soil?

This town council needs to step up and start taking care of issues that really concern the current tax payers. The mayor’s job is to oversee the interests of all of the residents.

I hope that the municipality and also the provincial government take this issue seriously because it is affecting the lives of many people living in St. Lazare.

Joanne Ackland

St. Lazare