Austin Rikley-Krindle competing for Hudson District 2 seat with a youthful vision
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
Austin Rikley-Krindle (left), who strongly supports initiatives such as Hudson Heartbeet Community Farm, is seen here chatting with farm directors, Rébecca Phaneuf-Thibault and Loïc Freeman-Lavoie after a recent farm tour.
If he wins his seat on Hudson Town Council in the municipal elections in November, Austin Rikley-Krindle would be the youngest elected official in the region to date having celebrated his 19th birthday in August.
Rikley-Krindle is running in Hudson District 2. “I feel like I can make an impact in the next four years,” said the 19 year-old. He described the current council as having laid the groundwork of bringing the town up to par in terms of legalities.
“Now it needs people who can think outside the box and have a younger vision,” he added.
Maintaining current green space is one of Rikley-Krindle’s priorities. “I’m not against development, but we need to develop in smart areas,” he said, noting that providing more public access to the Ottawa River would draw young families to the town and keep them here.
He also sees initiatives such as the Hudson Heartbeet Farm as important factors in community development. “The community farm is an incredible project that contributes to Hudson’s uniqueness,” he said.
Providing more services for senior citizens is another priority. Using an existing program in Pointe-Claire as an example, Rikley-Krindle noted that for a small fee, town employees provide services such as lawn cutting for older residents.
“It would mean senior citizens would be able to live in their homes and community and not have to relocate to a residence somewhere else,” said Rikley-Krindle. Thus, he supports the recent proposal for bi-generational housing. “I think that’s a great step forward,” he said.
“Sidewalks are another issue for seniors. The sidewalks are rough and uneven and are difficult to navigate,” he said, adding that wider sidewalks make it easier for people to get around on foot, particularly those with mobility issues that need assistance.
“All of the issues that are important to District 2 are important for the rest of Hudson,” said Rikley-Krindle. “If you are councillor for a district, you are also a councillor for the rest of the town.”
His interest in municipal politics began about four years ago just after the local elections at the time when the Pine Lake dam broke. “I was making tests on the water in the lake. That was when we were realizing there were a lot of environmental issues going on with the lake, not just the dam breaking,” he said.
“I would like to see it restored – or somewhat restored – to what it was and also maintain some of its natural functions that it currently is taking on now,” he said adding that as a swamp it is filtering the water flow and removing pollutants.
“That’s something we need to maintain because it’s an integral part of the watershed.” He is very aware of the legalities from an environmental point of view and the requirements of the Ministère de Développement durable, Environnement et Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MDDELC).
“No matter how we approach it, everyone in the town wants it to be something beautiful,” he said.
“I see the development as something that needs to be very restricted because of the flooding,” said Rikley-Krindle. In his estimation, perhaps the first 50 metres of land parallel to Royalview Street appeared to remain relatively untouched by the flooding this past spring. He said going past the 50-metre mark would not be an intelligent idea because of the flood risk and the negative impact on the ecosystem. “The Communauté Métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) is looking at redoing the floodlines, so that could significantly affect how much of the property can be developed,” he noted.
Rikley-Krindle has made a point of attending meetings at all levels of municipal governance including Hudson town council, the Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS) and the CMM. “I make the effort in understanding how things are working.”
He observed that when he attended a CMM meeting, the MRC-VS representative, Mayor Guy Pilon from Vaudreuil-Dorion wasn’t able to be there. “These meetings (CMM) are held every two months, if we want anything from the CMM, we have to have someone there,” he said.
“If we want to empower Hudson, then we have to do it at all levels of regional organization. Making decisions here is great, but we have to make sure we have MRC–VS and CMM backing. It will also help with funding.”
Rikley-Krindle is currently pursuing a degree in environmental studies and policy at McGill University. He’s confident he will be able to handle the workload of representing District 2 and university.