Hudson residents intensely object to proposed by-law changes
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
Recent flooding of homes in Hudson was on the minds of citizens at a public consultation regarding zoning by-laws. Resident Doug Reed (at the mic) took issue with a zoning map that appears to permit construction in a flood zone area.
Tensions ran high during the question period following an official public consultation meeting held in Hudson on Tuesday May 23 regarding draft zoning by-laws amending onsite planning and architectural integration programs and compliance with the land use revised plan of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC.
The main focus of the discussion was the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) within a 1-kilometre radius from Hudson’s train station theater and the proposed increase in population density per hectare for the area.
“You said you tried hard not to be part of the TOD?” asked resident Doug Reed, “How did you do that?” Councillor Deborah Woodhead responded, “We had many, many meetings with the Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS). They said because we have a train we are part of the TOD.’’
“Then why not get rid of the train?” asked Reed. “Every time we ask citizens about the train, they want to keep it,” Woodhead replied, adding, in her opinion, it was not an environmentally responsible thing to do in 2017. She also said that buses were also considered by the MRC to constitute a TOD.
“Are you going to build in a flood zone?” asked Reed pointing toward a map of the TOD zone on the screen. “There are many rules and regulations that apply within that circle,” replied Woodhead.
Presentation of information
The meeting began with a presentation on the proposed by-laws prepared by Jean-François Viens and Véronique Montpetit of urban planning organization L’Atelier Urbain who were awarded the contract in June, 2016, by the town to adjust Hudson’s by-laws to be in compliance with the new rules handed down by the MRC-VS. The presentation outlined how the by-laws bring the Town of Hudson into conformity with the regulations of the MRC-VS, the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM), and the Plan Métropolitain d’aménagement et de Développement (PMAD). According to the presentation’s timeline, from 2012 to 2015 the MRC-VS adjusted its regional planning document followed by a period of six months for Hudson to conform with the new regulations.
In the Hudson TOD area, the density of the number of dwellings is planned at an average of 40 units per hectare on identified vacant lots. The MRC-VS has identified a potential for 336 new doors in the TOD area.
Areas in TOD for development
Resident Elizabeth Corker asked for clarification regarding the lots identified for development within the TOD. Director of Urban Planning Nathalie Lavoie responded that the areas are Sandy Beach, a lot at Main Road and Somerset Road, and two properties on Cameron Street.
Concerns were raised about the capability of the town to provide services to a larger population, particularly potable water. Resident Jamie Nicholls pointed out that the 100-year flood zone was not indicated on the plan.
“I don’t believe that council, in their heart of hearts, support this plan. They are being driven by the MRC and the provincial government to support this project,” said resident Marcus Owen adding, “Personally, I say, long live the Republic of Hudson.” Woodhead replied, ”That ship has sailed. We are a part of the CMM. That happened in 2000.”
Resident June Penney advocated putting everything on hold citing the problems with roads, potable water, and the recovery of the town from a state of emergency due to recent flooding. “There are lots of unanswered questions about the conservation plan. What’s the rush? We can stand up to the MRC-VS. We have done it before.” She pointed out there hadn’t been anyone at the microphone supporting the changes.
Extension or postponement
“The law obliges us to comply with the MRC by-laws,” said Town Clerk Cassandra Comin Bergonzi. It’s just the way it is written.” Regarding an extension and allowing more time to pass, Comin Bergonzi replied the MRC could eventually impose the changes in the form of by-laws on the town. She did, however, suggest that citizens could bring their concerns directly to the MRC noting that the town had tried on many occasions to raise the same issues only to receive a negative response. When asked how, in a democratic society, the MRC could impose laws on a town, the Town Clerk replied, “Because in a democratic society there are rules, and these are the rules of the Plan d’aménagement d’urbanisme. If we keep asking to postpone and if we don’t comply that will happen.”