Provincial ministry to hold public info meeting for Chaline Valley homeowners
The provincial Ministry of Public Security (MSP) will hold a public information session March 28 exclusively for Chaline Valley homeowners that are directly affected by the landslide issue, announced St. Lazare Mayor Robert Grimaudo during a special council session on Tuesday, February 21.
“This is very good news,” Grimaudo told Your Local Journal after the meeting. “The MSP has identified the area. Now they’re taking action. We have to remember that their sole action is financial. The stabilization work itself will belong to the town.”
Just over $5.9 million of the current estimated $8 million cost to stabilize the land around affected homes will be covered by the MSP, said Grimaudo. “This was always the issue. Who would pay to stabilize that part of Chaline Valley? Now we know the provincial government will pick up a huge portion of the tab,” he said.
When asked during question period whether a sectorial tax would be imposed on Chaline Valley residents to cover the $2 million portion that will be assumed by the town, Grimaudo said he wasn’t sure yet.
“We will take a position by March 28 so that we can announce to the public how we will do this,” said Grimaudo. “There’s definitely going to be a tax implication and council will determine based on the different options that are available how this should be done.”
While Grimaudo is pleased the MSP will address the issue financially, there is no indication when the stabilization work will actually begin. “Don’t expect a shovel to go into the ground anytime soon,” he said.
“There is a huge amount of work that has to be done before,” said Grimaudo. “There will be over 7,000 truckloads of earth. We’re also talking about complete preparation, handing out tenders, determining who will do the work and how it will be done. We’ll also have to secure the affected areas before the work begins.”
In addition to the MSP, the provincial Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Action against Climate Change (MDDELCC) will also be involved during the preparation phase.
“There are 95 homes that have been identified and each one is very specific as to the type of work that has to be done,” said Grimaudo. “People’s yards will be redefined. If there’s a huge steep drop right into the Quinchien River, that slope will be redefined into a moderate slope that will lessen the possibility of a landslide. Rocks will also be put along the edge of the river to prevent erosion. It’s a two-step process.”
Grimaudo also clarified the town’s position regarding its decision not to release a nine-page report from the MSP regarding the landslide situation even though a ministry representative gave the town permission to release it.
“We knew we could release the documents but we didn’t because they don’t belong to us. We don’t have the geotechnical expertise. It belongs to the MSP and when they’re here on March 28, they can explain what the document means to the people,” said Grimaudo.
The short notice given for the special session meant that District 3 Councillor Brigitte Asselin, who represents Chaline Valley residents, was unable to attend. Grimaudo nevertheless credited Asselin for her continuous efforts to help her constituents by achieving a positive outcome within her current mandate.
Resident Richard Meades, who has consistently raised the issue at most council meetings over the past four years, was pleased with the announcement.
“I’m very happy about it,” said Meades. “The town is heading in a positive direction and they’re going to do something. At least it will bring the value back to the homes and put people’s minds at ease. It was a feel-good session.”