Hudson Town Council passes concordance by-laws despite citizen protest
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
Contesting the wisdom of passing concordance by-laws was on the minds of many Hudson residents at the June 5 council evening. Resident Marcus Owen (at the microphone) and others questioned the necessity of a TOD (Transit Oriented Development) zone.
Emotions ran high at the Hudson Town Council meeting on Monday, June 5, as citizens opposed to three by-laws asked council to reconsider its decision and delay their approval. The by-laws in question amend the planning program of the town, its zoning by-laws, and on site planning and architectural programs so that they conform to the revised Land Use Program of the Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS).
Mayor Ed Prévost, although not present for the meeting, sent a message read by Councillor Natalie Best, that encouraged residents to support the passage of the concordance by-laws. “As you know, mayors don’t vote unless there’s a draw. If I were to vote, I would enthusiastically endorse the by-law,” Prévost wrote as read by Best. Prévost referred to the issue of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) centered on the Hudson train station that will come into effect with the passage of the by-laws.
“Even though TOD’s do look artificial, we can work with it and around it,” the Mayor wrote.
“Have you determined with the Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) their plans for the Hudson train service?” asked resident Marcus Owen. He said Hudson does not have the population to support train service in the long term without drawing in ridership from surrounding communities. “New feeder roads with feeder bus services to the Hudson train station could provide the population base,” said Owen. “These are not in the Plan Métropolitain d’aménagement et de Développement (PMAD).”
He described how Hudson would need a substantial train station with supporting infrastructure and the rail line between Hudson and Vaudreuil-Dorion would have to be significantly upgraded.
“If you haven’t asked them, don’t you think it would be appropriate to do so before including the TOD in the by-laws?” Owen asked. Currently, Hudson is serviced with one train in the morning in the direction of Montreal and a return train in the evening. In Owen’s opinion, an increase in service would be required to support a TOD.
“No matter whether it is train service or buses it is considered a TOD,” responded Best. “As far as the AMT goes, there is a cost that goes with that for more trains,” she added noting that citizens would have to be surveyed as whether or not they wanted the added service with the expense. “We know we have transportation issues and we know that the CIT organisation is going to change,” she added noting that feeder lines into Vaudreuil-Dorion don’t solve the problem of congestion on the highways.
Councillor Deborah Woodhead said in defense of the by-laws, “We chose to be part of CMM and the MRC-VS and we need to be in compliance. Once we are in compliance, we will be able to do things for Hudson that we cannot do from the outside. We listened to what you have said and we have made some changes.”
Zoning changes for Villa Wyman construction
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
Hudson’s Villa Wyman chairperson Diane Ratcliffe (left) and board members of the non-profit organization, Bill Young and Sally Janson, outlined the physical parameters of the proposed assisted living seniors’ residence.
Council approved the by-laws that extend the commercial zoning of the downtown area to include the property of Wyman Memorial Church. At the same time, they issued a Notice of Motion of a proposed amendment to that zoning by-law (By-Law 692.1-2017) specifically designating that only seniors’ housing is permitted on the land in the extended area. A public consultation meeting will be held Tuesday, June 20. According to Councillor Nicole Durand, there will be a registry and possibly a referendum on the by-law.
For Christine Redfern who lives next to the lot where the proposed assisted living seniors residence will be built, the amendment is a bit of good news.
“We would like to be able to vote on this project,” said Redfern. Her major concern was the loss of parking for the church and how the new project would be serviced. Redfern recently started a petition on change.org asking Hudson citizens to vote against the zoning changes. As of Wednesday, June 7, in light of the amendment, she was considering sending a message out to the signatories concerning the change in events. “The church will no longer have any parking,” she reiterated on Wednesday.
Spokesperson for the Villa Wyman project, Diane Ratcliffe responded to Redfern’s issues saying, “This is a project in its very preliminary stage. We are listening to everyone and hearing their concerns and communicating with the architect.”
As for the parking issue, she said there are six or seven spots in front of the building and part of the parking area being re-zoned will be shared.
“Not many of the residents in a seniors’ assisted living facility will be driving,” she said. She also said the plan includes a buffer zone between the building and the adjacent Stephenson Court development.