Letter to the editor 1, Oct. 12, 2017

Evolution of St. Lazare

Dear Editor,

St. Lazare had a population of less than 2500 when I moved here more than 35 years ago; when town councillors only had to worry about finding enough farmers with tractors and ploughs for snow clearing the roads, discussing whether to install a stop sign at a junction, giving out the occasional building permit, and making sure the builder put in their own well and septic system.

There were no tree-cutting restrictions because people who moved to St. Lazare wanted trees around them. Everyone knew nearly everyone, there were no real estate developers, and tradespeople were hired by reputation or word of mouth. Deliveries of building materials were left on your property and were still there until you wanted to use them. Christmas was a community affair for the children, and our councillors were friends and recognizable neighbours who were accessible socially or in the stores to answer our questions. Sadly, these days are long gone and St. Lazare has changed into a large ‘dormitory community’ where many people work in Montreal and return to St. Lazare for sleep, rest, relaxation and services. A population of nearly 20,000 people with multiple housing developments, traffic problems, water problems, sewage problems etc. and of course ever increasing taxes.

Today with a municipal budget of more than $28 million, a town councillor’s job is more like being a director of a large ‘socialized’ business, where expertise, understanding of community affairs, financial knowledge and experience are essential.

Gone are the days when the mayor was a local farmer, and councillors were local tradespeople who determined the direction of a small population in a community hardly known to Montrealers, and too far out of Montreal to be of interest to anyone other than a few people seeking peace, quiet, country living and low taxes.

We are now in the run-up to the 2017 municipal election with the jostling of candidates to be one of six councillors or the mayor, so remember St. Lazare is no longer a small town West of Montreal. It is a large developed town in need of a direction determined by residents not administrators, maybe more trees, cleaner water, maybe lower taxes and better services.

Hopefully more people will get out and vote, as too many residents are fed up with taxes going up every year, services going down, and taxpayers’ wishes being ignored.

Alan Nicol

St. Lazare

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