Stories of the Year - January to May 2016
Security concerns at community mailboxes accumulate
Carmen Marie Fabio
Investigators at the MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Beauharnois-Salaberry, and Haut-Saint-Laurent detachments asked for the public’s help to identify suspects who had been breaking into community mailboxes in order to steal packages. Since December 2015, dozens of mailboxes had been broken into in Hudson, Vaudreuil-Dorion, St. Lazare, Rivière-Beaudette, and Rigaud, and further reported thefts in Salaberry de Valleyfield, Ste. Martine, Ormstown and Godmanchester.
Within half an hour the morning of January 27, Your Local Journal was able find four community mailboxes between St. Lazare and Hudson that had numerous doors forced open and parts of broken locks found on the premises.
Hudson issues continue to simmer
Carmen Marie Fabio
While Hudson elected officials recently early in 2015 that a municipal employee had been suspended for a two-week period pending an internal investigation, they declined to reveal any more details citing confidentiality.
“It’s an administrative issue,” said Mayor Ed Prévost reached after the January 11 council meeting, referring all queries to Director General Jean-Pierre Roy.
“I can’t confirm or deny the information,” said Roy of the issue that was simply referred to as an ‘Employee matter’ on the monthly meeting agenda. “I have a resolution of confidentiality and restricted confirmation of any information concerning this suspension. This is for fair process of investigation.”
Update: Over the course of 2016, six employees of the Town of Hudson were suspended from their duties. At least one did not return to her position and filed a wrongful dismissal suit against the town.
Former Hudson DG sentenced to 30-month jail term
Carmen Marie Fabio
An unrepentant Louise Leger-Villandré was sentenced to 30 months in jail on February 22 for defrauding the Town of Hudson $1.1 million over a period of 17 years.
“Quel beau gâchis,” said Judge Michel Mercier at the Valleyfield Courthouse decrying the messy situation Leger-Villandré created after her initial arrest on 19 charges in October, 2014 and her subsequent guilty plea in December, 2015, to six counts of fraud, breach of trust, and using forged documents.
Despite her guilty plea to stealing the money while earning a six-figure salary from the town throughout her career in municipal politics, she claims to be bankrupt and unable to make financial restitution to the town.
“We will try to get our money back,” said Hudson’s current Director General Jean-Pierre Roy. “I won’t disclose our precise strategy but we have a plan and we will implement it.”
Update: Mayor Ed Prévost has said the cost of hiring a forensic accountant to recoup any funds would exceed any return. The town is looking to move forward.
A long road to recovery
Tina Lyon Adams’s life was irrevocably changed June 12, 2015, when she was struck by a car whose driver faces 10 charges ranging from impaired driving causing bodily harm, driving under the influence, and criminal negligence. The resulting near-fatal injuries left the 21-year-old with serious mobility challenges but a firm resolve.
“I can go short distances on my crutches but have to use my wheelchair for anything long,” said Lyon Adams. “It’s been nine months since the accident. It has been a sequence of operations, rehabilitation, infections, and more rehabilitation.”
A student in Police Technology program at John Abbott College, Lyon Adams also faces the challenge of having to make a vocational path change.
The driver of the car that hit her, Jordan Xavier Taylor, has said, through his lawyer Philip Schneider, that he will plead not guilty.
“He should lose the same kind of time out of his life that I have lost out of mine,” she said adding that could encompass jail time, a suspended driver’s license for a long period of time and community service work with an organization such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD).
Update: Taylor’s next court appearance is scheduled for May, 2017
Hudson mayor on medical leave
Carmen Marie Fabio
Hudson Mayor Ed Prévost announced March 16 that he’s taking an extended medical leave from his position at the advice of his physician.
Prévost said in his absence, council and administrative staff at the Town Hall will be assuming his duties as necessary.
Despite the difficult circumstances experienced recently at the town with the ongoing litigation issues over the breached dam at Pine Lake, a wrongful dismissal suit launched by former Director General Catherine Haulard, and undisclosed complaints made against Prévost to the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Occupation du territoire (MAMOT), Prévost vowed to resume his duties as soon as his doctors give their approval.
Update: Prévost returned to office in Novemberand is doing well.
Pincourt requests joint federal/provincial action amid water contamination concern
Citing concerns over its water supply, the Town of Pincourt adopted a resolution on March 8 that called on the federal and provincial governments to devise a strategy to remove a decrepit abandoned cargo ship that has been anchored in the southwestern waters of Lac-St. Louis in Beauharnois for almost five years. Mayor Yvan Cardinal said the resolution is warranted because even though the town isn’t in close proximity to the abandoned Kathryn Spirit cargo ship, it draws its potable water supply from an intake pipe located about eight kilometers from where the ship is anchored.
Update: As of November 15, Vaudreuil-Soulanges MP Peter Schiefke (pictured above) and Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced Groupe St. Pierre will be building a cofferdam to secure the ship. It’s expected to be completed by the end of the summer of 2017.
Community rallies for fire victims
Lauren Mitchell and Carmen Marie Fabio
There were clouds of smoke in the Town of St. Lazare Good Friday afternoon, March 25, after a devastating house fire on Vallée de la Loire Street left a family of four without a home. The blaze destroyed all the clothing, toys, furniture, and memories of homeowners Eric Fugère and Kerri Chambers Fugère. Sharon Weiner, owner of the Hudson Dance Studio at which the family’s 6-year-old daughter is a student, decided to take action to help the family recover from their loss by starting a donation collection that same day.
“My idea originally was to get them through the next 72 hours,” said Weiner. “I was overwhelmed with how much stuff we received, it was insane.”
Reached four days after the blaze, homeowner Eric Fugère said he was overwhelmed at the generosity the community had shown in terms of donations from friends, family, and even perfect strangers.
“You really get to see the best of humanity in situations like this.”
Provincial government names site for Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital
Carmen Marie Fabio
Many Vaudreuil-Soulanges mayors were in attendance at the April 4 press conference announcing the spot for the long-awaited regional hospital would be on Cité des Jeunes Boulevard in Vaudreuil-Dorion, just southwest of the junction of Highway 30 and Highway 40.
“Within five years, for sure, we will be in the middle of construction,” said Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, describing the timeline of the necessary steps the province must go through before breaking ground on the structure that is projected to have roughly 250 beds, but could be larger, for the region’s almost 150,000 inhabitants. “I won’t give you the exact opening date but things are on track.” Barrette said they are in the up-to-two-year planning process that includes determining which medical specialities the hospital will include in relation to the needs of the population. The second phase, 18 to 24 months, includes architectural plans and the third is construction.
When asked about waiting lists for medical services in Quebec, Barrette told Your Local Journal there was no shortage of doctors in the province. “Over the next 15 years, Quebec’s population will increase by 1 million. The (medical) schools are full of trainees and there will be healthcare professionals to take care of them.”
St. Lazare adopts new fee-structured limited leaf pickup program
After listening to concerns raised by St. Lazare residents about the town’s green waste collection program, town council adopted a resolution during the April 5 council meeting that revamped the process into three annual pickups.
The town restored the program in autumn 2015 after residents in heavily-treed areas demanded its return, but the administration had to also find a compromise to keep residents in other areas that didn’t need the service from paying into it.
Suggestions made by the mayor and council that residents should consider adopting more environmentally friendly methods such as composting were dismissed by many as being impractical because of time and space constraints. Despite the criticism, St. Lazare officials are adamant the town will eventually achieve its goal of producing zero leaf waste as more property owners adopt composting and shredding green waste as an alternative to the pickup.
Regional mayors welcome news of dedicated light-rail commuter line
The April 22 announcement that a long-awaited commuter rail project into the West Island will finally be
realized and become operational by 2020 was welcome news for the region’s mayors.
Sainte Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa said the $5.5 billion electric light-rail project proposed by the Caisse de Dépôt et placement du Québec that will extend into her community will provide a much needed boost to its developing commercial and light industrial sectors and provide easier access for commuters who travel to the airport and downtown core.
“I am thrilled to bits,” Hawa said. “All the merit goes to (Baie d’Urfé) Mayor Maria Tutino and especially (Train de l’Ouest advocate) Clifford Lincoln. It’s their hard work, perseverance and keeping their noses to the grindstone that finally made this project possible.
“It’s not that the rest of the West Island mayors weren’t involved – they’re the ones that led the entire initiative and thank goodness they did,” Hawa added. “This is the best news the West Island has had in at least the past decade.”
Vaudreuil-Soulanges mayors dig in to announce new MRC headquarters’ construction
Mayors from throughout the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRCtook part in a sod turning ceremony that officially launched the start of construction of the new MRC headquarters on the south side of Harwood Blvd. near the corner of Route de Lotbinière in Vaudreuil-Dorion.
Jean Lalonde, MRC Prefect said the new $5.5 million structure marks the start of a new beginning for the organization as the municipal governing board that represents the 23 Vaudreuil-Soulanges municipalities prepares to consolidate its operations into one central location.
Update: As announced on page 18, as of January 4, 2017, the MRC will be in its new location on Harwood Boulevard.
Landslide registry signing a formality as NDIP prepares to stabilize area
Homeowners living in the designated landslide zone area in Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot will have the opportunity to sign a registry if they are opposed to a proposed $3.4 million loan by-law for a project that will stabilize the surrounding land.
Mayor Danie Deschênes said the registry signing held at city hall May 25 was more of a formality and she didn’t expect much if any opposition from area residents. It is exclusively for residents in and around the immediate vicinity of the Palissades de l’anse aux sables luxury home development who have been directly affected by the landslide zone designation, she said.
The affected homeowners, who live in the area around Perrot Blvd. and Simone-de-Beauvoir Street, will not be responsible to repay the entire amount that has been allocated for the project since the provincial government is providing a grant to the town that will cover 74 per cent of the $3.4 million cost.
“We’re really happy about getting the subsidy because we know it will go away at some point,” said Deschênes. “We’re one of the first towns to have received the grant.”