• John Jantak

UMQ participation will upgrade Ste. Anne’s council’s skills, says Hawa

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK Work is proceeding as planned for the renovation of the Harpell Centre on St. Pierre Street. The facility, built in 1948, is undergoing extensive renovations.

Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa defended a $12,500 expenditure that was adopted at the Monday, December 11 council meeting for the mayor and four councillors to attend the annual Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ) meeting next May in Gatineau. One resident balked at the expense when the issue was raised during question period but Hawa said it’s important for council to be kept up-to-date regarding rapidly evolving changes that affect all municipalities throughout the province. The training received during the three-day event will not only help newly elected councillors Tom Broad and Denis Gignac better understand their roles, it will also help re-elected councillors Dana Chevalier and Ryan Young upgrade their knowledge of municipal affairs, said Hawa. Re-elected councillors Francis Juneau and Yvan Labelle were not on the list of participants. Bill 122 Hawa said the adoption of Bill 122 by the Quebec National Assembly on June 15 titled, ‘An act mainly to recognize that municipalities are local governments and to increase their autonomy and powers,’ makes it imperative that council understands the evolving functions of municipal governance and adapting to their new realities. “We are the front line in governance. Things reach us first before they hit the provincial or federal level. Things move very quickly. It’s important for us to understand what is going on and how different cities handle different issues,” Hawa told Your Local Journal. Marijuana legalization The upcoming legalization of cannabis in Canada next year is just one aspect why participation in the UMQ conference is so important, said Hawa. “Eighty per cent of the legislation will be the responsibility of the municipalities, including increased police presence, re-zoning permits and other issues,” she said. “How will we address these new issues without sitting down and getting some kind of explanation about what it means? It’s our responsibility to keep on top of these issues and to understand the consequences of our decisions. The only way we can do that is to participate in these kinds of forums,” said Hawa.

Climate change Climate change is another factor that municipalities have to face, said Hawa. “We were flooded last May and it’s going to happen again. How are other municipalities handling it and what new technologies are there to mitigate floods? The reality is you need to keep on top of current events,” said Hawa. “A lot of things are changing on the municipal side. This training is a way for councillors and council to stay on top and become cognizant of the new challenges each municipality faces. It’s an investment to make sure they’re up-to-date with everything that’s going on and can therefore make more enlightened decisions,” Hawa added. Harpell Centre renovations Work is proceeding as planned for the renovation of the Harpell Centre on St. Pierre Street. The facility which was built in 1948 is undergoing extensive refurbishment including upgrades to the roof, bathrooms, ceiling and insulating the outside walls. Almost one-half of the approximate $500,000 cost was provided through a non-refundable federal government grant of just over $232,000 from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, specifically related to the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions. “It was the Canada 150 grant that helped us along,” said Hawa. “It’s our only community centre and it hasn’t been touched in years. It gets used a lot so it was time to modernize it and make it more energy efficient. I’m very glad this project is finally underway. We couldn’t have done it without the grant, that’s for sure.”