• Carmen Marie Fabio

Jamie Nicholls announces candidacy for Hudson mayoralty


PHOTO BY AMANDA MACDONALD

With municipal elections seven months away, former NDP MP Jamie Nicholls is the first to announce his candidacy for the position of mayor of Hudson.

Following a stint in federal politics as the National Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Hudson native Jamie Nicholls has announced he will throw his hat into the political ring at the municipal level as a candidate for mayor in the November elections.

“I think Hudson is a great place to live and part of the reason I’m doing this is to take the actions that need to be taken in order to preserve the beautiful little corner of the world that we have,” Nicholls told Your Local Journal this week in a sit-down interview.

When asked how he could fix some of the monumental obstacles that faced previous administrations, Nicholls said he would not waste any time in pointing fingers backwards.

“In order to fix things, we have to move forwards,” he said with a caveat that fixing doesn’t always mean preservation – it can mean an evolution to something different.

Waterways

Using Pine Lake as an example, Nicholls acknowledged there are currently six potential outcome scenarios for the man-made lake as determined by a committee report but said the ideal fix is whatever’s best in the context of the Viviry River, suggesting a constructive wetland, including oxygenating aquatic vegetation and waterfowl.

“The pond would clean the water before it goes downstream,” he said as opposed to its previous iteration in amassing silt. “I look at Pine Lake and Sandy Beach as an integrated whole to the Viviry River. One of my number one priorities is our water resources.”

Nicholls said he’s open to evaluating the cost of extending the water infrastructure to the western portion of the town but is currently more concerned with potable water supply and maintaining the health of the aquafer. “At this point, demand is outpacing supply, which is why the town is looking for a new well and why, during the summer, we have watering restrictions.”

Stakeholder feedback

“My plan is in the first 90 days, to assemble the stakeholders in Hudson to talk about the future of the town,” Nicholls said, citing experience in British Columbia planning the Greater Vancouver Region with myriad levels of government. “Each level of government has a policy and sometimes when you filter down, there’s a contradiction in policy. Those contradictions need to be worked out at the local level.”

Growth of the town is subject to regulations and guidelines from the Plan Métropolitain d’aménagement et de Développement (PMAD) and Nicholls advocates using a ‘charette’ model of planning and resolution, including all levels of government and citizens in discussions to avoid conflict and work together to find solutions.

Roadways

Besides the much needed repaving on many Hudson roads, Nicholls said infrastructure issues, including safe sidewalks in the centre of town, need to be addressed. “We require safety for every mode of transportation – for cars, pedestrians, and bicycles.”

Extensive traffic near the Hudson/Oka Ferry also requires attention as, citing full disclosure, Nicholls said some of his extended family members live in the vicinity.

“I’m familiar with the district and it needs to be considered. It used to be more of a commercial hub but any changes need citizen feedback. People who have something to say about the town should be listened to.”

Nicholls said there should be a ‘public memory’ of topics raised by residents.

“I would like to see that, in between council meetings, district councillors actually meet with citizens in their respective district,” he said.

Nicholls says he’s not fazed by some of the hostility that can accompany municipal politics.

“Every organization goes through that kind of criticism,” he said. “We’re talking about people’s living space and it’s very direct and visceral to them.” He continued, recognizing the effect on residents’ livelihood and wanting to see a good return on their taxation investment. “I understand people are passionate about it and don’t want to see waste and inefficiency.”

Current governance

Nicholls is first to make the announcement, and though current Mayor Ed Prévost acknowledges some health issues over the past year, he has not ruled out running for a second term.

“When I took this on four years ago, in my mind it was at least going to be eight years or more. That’s what the town requires.” Prévost said his concern with any candidate elected is that he or she maintains the direction outlined in the strategic plan.

“If not, then we’re back to square-one, and that could be the equivalent of a town being under tutelage.”

Clean slate

With a Master of Landscape Architecture and in the final stages of a PhD thesis in Urban Planning, Nicholls is opting to run without a full slate council candidate.

“The idea is I want to work with anybody who gets elected as a councillor,” he said. “With a population of 5000, I believe we’re too small to get into factions.

“I love this region and I love my town,” he said. “I want to see it healed.”

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