Letter to the editor 5, Oct. 19, 2017

Sinking feeling

Dear Editor,

I attended St. Lazare’s October town council meeting where a resolution was passed to adopt the SHQ’s (Société d’Habitation du Québec) subsidy program providing aid to residents with sinking houses. The money that the council is willing to contribute to help the residents is $171,000.

Money provided by the town is matched by the SHQ, bringing the amount to $342,000. This amount is but a drop in the bucket. The maximum amount which will be allocated to home-owners is $20,000, meaning only 17 households will benefit from this help. There are far more than 17 houses in St. Lazare that are sinking! Had the town offered more money, the SHQ would have matched allowing more help for residents.

From attending town meetings for the past two years, I have come to realize that spending money in St. Lazare is not an issue: The Au Galop festival has cost taxpayers over a $1 million. A mere $171,000 to help residents in dire straits seems pittance in comparison. Why is the taxpayers’ money not being put where it is needed?

The present council will argue that they were proactive with this problem, and that they acted accordingly. This issue was brought to the town by me in 2015, and even before me by others in the form of a petition. I mentioned the Volet 6 program which had been available in 2013. The mayor seemed to have never heard of it before. No action was taken until now.

Had the council been more proactive and dealt with the issue sooner, people who have already fixed their houses (because they couldn’t deal with the stress of a breaking house) would have also been able to benefit from some assistance.

However, the retroactivity of one year has put a stop to that.

The original proposal for the subsidy was one third, one third, and one third. This is what the Volet 6 2013-2014 entailed. This recent offer is burdening the homeowner with more expense. For example if the repair cost is $60,000, $20,000 was to come from the government, $20,000 from the city and the remaining $20,000 from the homeowner. As is the case now, the government and city only provide $20,000 leaving the homeowner to absorb the $40,000. So the distribution is one third city and government and two thirds homeowners!

The homeowners are once again being shortchanged.

Joanne Ackland

Concerned resident of St Lazare

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