Hawa notes significant achievements during her term as Ste. Anne’s mayor
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Ste. Anne de Bellevue’s Mayor Paola Hawa cites the financial gains attained by the city from the transfer of Ste. Anne’s Hospital, the recalculation of the amount of money contributed to the Montreal agglomeration, and the preservation of green space in the city’s North Sector as some of the reasons why citizens should vote for her in the upcoming municipal election.
Paola Hawa is hopeful Ste. Anne de Bellevue citizens will consider the many benefits the municipality has reaped during her current four-year mandate as she begins to campaign for a second consecutive term as mayor in the upcoming municipal election.
“It’s a mandate that started with a lot of apprehension and challenges,” Hawa told Your Local Journal during an interview alongside the city’s boardwalk and canal on Tuesday, September 26.
Ste. Anne’s Hospital transfer
The transfer of Ste. Anne’s Hospital from federal to provincial jurisdiction which was completed this spring was just one issue which provoked ‘a lot of anxiety’, she said. “It resulted in us turning lemons into lemonade.
“Instead of a possible $3 million loss per year (from lost tax revenue), we made up for it through transfer payments and also gained the land around the hospital which is valued at $3.8 million,” said Hawa.
While she didn’t speculate what will be done with the adjoining land, Hawa said the city should consider future development that is complementary to the hospital. “Ste. Anne’s Hospital is our economic engine and it has established itself as a centre of excellence in terms of geriatric care for other centres to follow.
“We’re working very closely with the hospital. The West Island has one of the highest growing populations of seniors on the island. We need to do something about that, not only to house these people, but also to provide the appropriate services the elderly need.”
Another significant achievement is the revision in the method of calculating the amount of money each demerged city on the island of Montreal has to contribute annually to the agglomeration for the various services – such as fire, police and water – that Ste. Anne’s receives. The modification resulted in a gain of $3.4 million annually for the city.
“On an annual operating budget, we were sending 54 per cent of our revenue directly to the city of Montreal to pay our share,” said Hawa. Both the hospital transfer payments and reformulation of the annual expenditure to the agglomeration will provide Ste. Anne’s with a significant surplus next year, according to Hawa.
“We’re in the best financial situation probably in the entire history of Ste. Anne’s,” said Hawa. “It’s a huge relief. We’re probably looking at a surplus of close to $6 million in 2018. That’s unheard of in this city.”
The unexpected increase in revenue may not necessarily result in tax relief for residents, said Hawa. “I’m not opposed to tax breaks but we need to look at the debt we have and try to pay that down. I also want to look at establishing reserves for infrastructure projects so that if we need to do something in a couple of years at a cost or $2 or $3 million, we don’t want to start taking out loans for the full amount,” she said.
Green space preservation
The recent revision and adoption of the city’s Programme particulier d'urbanisme (PPU), which significantly curbs development in the city’s North Sector and preserves a large swath of green space adjacent to the l’Anse a l’Orme nature park, is another important achievement which helps preserve one of the last remaining expanses of green space on the island, said Hawa.
The preservation of what Hawa considers to be an important eco-system for the entire West Island will help to maintain the city’s reputation as being environmentally friendly and draw more tourists to the area.
“Preserving this area is as important to us as Mount Royal is to Montreal and Stanley Park is to people in Vancouver. These three achievements came around with a lot of hard work and focus,” said Hawa.