STORIES OF THE YEAR 2017

JANUARY

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits Île-Perrot restaurant

James Armstrong

PHOTO BY RODNEY LORICA

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made one of many appearances in our comparatively small territory over the course of 2017, stopping first in Île-Perrot’s Smoke Meat Pete restaurant in January on a meet-and-greet with the customers. For more 2017 sightings of Trudeau in Vaudreuil-Soulanges

FEBRUARY

Vaudreuil-Soulanges Islamic Cultural Centre opens its doors to the public following Quebec shooting James Armstrong PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG Following a deadly shooting that took the lives of five members of a Quebec City mosque, Vaudreuil-Soulanges residents responded by hosting a candlelit vigil at Saint James’ Anglican Church in Hudson January 30 in a showing of solidarity with the Muslim community. Islamic Cultural Centre of Vaudreuil-Soulanges member Nabil Rougui told Your Local Journal he was grateful for all the expressions of support including the bouquets of flowers and notes of condolence left at the door of the centre on Harwood Boulevard. A week after the shootings, the centre opened its doors to the public, welcoming the community members and elected officials into their centre for an open house.

MARCH

Animal rights’ protest Carmen Marie Fabio PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO A protest Friday, March 17, saw over 100 demonstrators taking a stand against the use and reported abuse of animals in a Baie d’Urfé medical testing facility. The initial protest, organized by Robert Boisvert of the animal rights’ group 269life, was staged in response to video footage obtained by a technician working for Los Angeles-based animal rights’ group named Last Chance for Animals (LCA). After the footage was broadcast on the CTV investigative journalism program W5, showing mistreatment of pigs, dogs, and monkeys at International Toxicology Research (ITR) laboratories in Baie d’Urfé, hundreds of people assembled across the street. Interviewed during the March 17 protest, ITR Senior Vice President Ginette Bain told Your Local Journal, “We have been in touch with the CCAC, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Wildlife Protection Agency. They were in our facility immediately after the W5 report.” Bain said she was as shocked as the protesters to see the footage.

Tina Adams regains mobility James Armstrong PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG After a June, 2015 hit-and-run accident that left her with multiple severe injuries, Hudson resident Tina Adams finally was able to resume walking this year after a December, 2016 hip replacement surgery. Her life changed when she was struck by a car operated by an inebriated driver that left the then 21-year-old with serious mobility challenges and neurological damage. The accident put Adams’ pursuit of a career in Police Technology on indefinite hold but she now uses the experience to speak to students about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Update: Following an appearance at the Valleyfield Courthouse December 18, 2017 Jordan Taylor pled not guilty to the allegation that he struck Tina Lyon Adams and Alique Remtulla-Langlois while they were jogging the evening of June 12, 2015.Taylor and his lawyer Philip Schneider opted for a trial by jury scheduled for mid-January 2018.

APRIL

Spring time flooding John Jantak PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK Undoubtedly the story of the year, the 2017 floods that first breached the Town of Rigaud slowly creeped into communities from Vaudreuil-Soulanges all the way to the West Island. Thousands of people were displaced from homes that often were in the family for generations. The province and individual municipalities are still tabulating the final price tag as they scramble to update flood zone information and guidelines in concert with the reality of climate change.

CAQ Leader François Legault visits YLJ Carmen Marie Fabio

PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) leader François Legault reached out to Anglophones in the region - eight months before the Bonjour/Hi fiasco – by discussing his party’s platform at our offices, citing his focus on economy and education rather than Quebec sovereignty. Some of his opinions were at odds with his Liberal counterpart Soulanges MNA Lucie Charlebois, particularly his assertion the Liberals take the Anglo vote for granted. Legault also advocated for starting kids in school at the age of four and identifying kids with special needs no later than age three. His party proposes cutting 20,000 provincial government jobs over a period of four years and injecting the money back into the middle class.

New digs for Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC Carmen Marie Fabio PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO Reflecting the region’s status as being the second-fastest growing riding in the entire country, the organization representing the 23 towns that make up Vaudreuil-Soulanges moved from their Vaudreuil-Dorion location on Saint-Charles Avenue to new facilities on Harwood Boulevard. The structure houses the MRC offices, Municipal Court, and as of June 1, the Centre Locale de Développement (CLD) moved into the top floor of the three-storey building.

Subsidies for Chaline Valley landslide work John Jantak PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK Soulanges provincial MNA Lucie Charlebois officially announced the awarding of a $5.9 million subsidy to the Town of St. Lazare for work to reconfigure and stabilize the land and shoreline along the Quinchien River in Chaline Valley during a press conference with municipal officials on Monday, April 3. “I’m very pleased to announce the financial agreement that was made between the provincial Ministry of Public Security and St. Lazare,” said Charlebois. “This partnership will protect 90 residences, 1.7 kilometres of municipal roads, and one bridge. These families will also get peace of mind regarding the safety of their homes and loved ones.” The financial assistance comes from the green fund which is a part of the provincial 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan. This agreement allows work to be done which will help prevent landslides from occurring on the banks of the Quinchien River. According to Charlebois, by late 2018 all the work in the field will finally begin.

MAY

Ste. Anne’s northern sector John Jantak PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK Following months of work, the final revised Programme particulier d’urbanisme (PPU) for the northern sector of Ste. Anne’s was adopted representing the city’s urban development plan. At least three developers opposed to the finalized PPU presented briefs outlining their opposition to the revised plan including Développement immobilier Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue (DISAB) and Groupe immobilier Grilli. Mayor Paola Hawa and council stood their ground and despite a legal challenge launched in July by DISAB, mayor and council said they wouldn’t be ‘bullied’ into making changes. Development in the area will be permitted but limited to three storeys.

JUNE

Ste. Anne’s Hospital 100th John Jantak PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO A decision made more than a century ago to temporarily locate a military hospital in Ste. Anne de Bellevue to treat wounded soldiers from World War I and which eventually became a permanent veterans’ facility was marked with a special tribute at Ste. Anne’s Hospital to recognize its 100th anniversary June 22. The hospital, which was transferred from federal to provincial jurisdiction in April 2016, has become an integral part of the CIUSSS as a geriatric facility for the general population while still providing specialized care and services for veterans. “Our histories are inextricably linked,” said Ste. Anne’s Mayor Paola Hawa. “A decision that was made in 1917 basically forged our municipality for 100 years. Ste. Anne’s is all about veterans, their stories and how they shaped our community.”

Hudson wins wrongful dismissal suit Carmen Marie Fabio PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG Catherine Haulard, who was hired in August 2013 following the departure of former DG Louise Léger-Villandré (who was later arrested and convicted for fraud and breach of trust after misappropriating $1.1 million from the town coffers), was suspended for two weeks in February, 2015 following what Mayor Ed Prévost described as a falling-out between Haulard and Labour Relations Consultant Judy Sheehan who was hired to help council renegotiate the labour relations agreement with the unionized employees of the town. Following her unpaid suspension, Haulard did not return to her position then brought her case before Quebec’s Commission des relations du travail last November. Judge Mylène Alder ruled in favour of the town finding no unlawful interference by council. The case is estimated to have cost the town just under $200,000 in legal fees.

JULY

Vaudreuil-Dorion continues to demand review of SQ overbilling John Jantak PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO In an ongoing story, the continued overbilling for Sûreté du Québec (SQ) police services within the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC prompted Vaudreuil-Dorion council to propose a resolution that requests the provincial government to review and make changes to the overbilling practices. When individual municipal police departments were disbanded by the provincial government and the SQ was mandated to provide police services for the entire MRC, Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon said the original contribution was set at 50 per cent. Over the years the amount of the contribution increased to 80 per cent, 100 per cent and now stands at 112 per cent, an amount that Pilon feels is unjustified.

AUGUST

Homeowners with foundation problems to receive financial aid John Jantak PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK Residents with faulty foundations will be able to qualify for financial assistance after the provincial government announced it will provide $1.85 million in funds to residents throughout the Montérégie region. The announcement was made by provincial MNAs Lucie Charlebois (Soulanges) and Marie-Claude Nichols (Vaudreuil). Charlebois said the aid is being provided to reassure affected homeowners that the government is aware of the issue and is committed to helping affected residents. For St. Lazare residents, the amount pegged for the community by the province is $171,000, an amount that will be matched by the town, for a total of $342,000, said Mayor Robert Grimaudo.

Hudson chosen for Ottawa River search and rescue station James Armstrong PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG Hudson town council approved the installation of a Nautical Rescue Station in the town by the federal government under the jurisdiction of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard Inshore Rescue Boat Service Program (IRB Service). An 800 square-foot building with connections to sanitation facilities, potable water, and electricity will be constructed behind the water treatment plant on Wharf Road. Crewmembers will have their own wharf installed east of the abandoned municipal wharf with a vehicle parking space nearby. Parking space for crewmembers is allocated at the back of the Jack Layton parking lot. The federal government will be funding the entire project with a proposed opening in April, 2018.

SEPTEMBER

Stringent by-law enforcement demanded after dog killed in Ste. Anne’s John Jantak PHOTO COURTESY LYNN SERRE A Ste. Anne de Bellevue resident demanded the city enforce its dog by-laws more vigorously after their family pet was mauled and killed by another large aggressive dog in the north sector of the city in September. Lynn Serre, 49, and her 15-year-old daughter were walking their small four-year-old cockapoo along Rue Meloche when the large dog reportedly managed to break free from its handler, an elderly woman who may have had difficulty controlling the dog, as it was being led into the house. The dog then immediately ran to the curb and began attacking ‘Ozzy’. Though immediately transported to a veterinarian, Ozzy died from the severity of his injuries. The owner of the attacking dog, who described the event as an unfortunate accident, was fined by the town.

Repaving of Vaudreuil-Dorion’s notorious Route Harwood James Armstrong PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG The potholes, bumps, cracks, and broken asphalt that comprised Route Harwood between Highway 40 and Highway 20 disappeared in a long-awaited paving project. Vaudreuil MNA Marie-Claude Nichols made the announcement, saying it was a pleasure to deliver such good news. Vaudreuil-Dorion’s Mayor Guy Pilon summed it up by singing, “I feel good!” The total cost of the project was $4,317,691 with the town taking responsibility for 50 per cent of the cost. Nichols said the 8.9 kilometres of newly paved road will ensure the safety of drivers and is part of the Rehabilitation of Local Roads Network Program, an accelerated investment in the local road network.

Hollywood in Hudson Céline Pilon PHOTO BY CÉLINE PILON Filming of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, a mystery novel written by young Swiss author Joël Dicker and starring Patrick Dempsey was filmed partly in Hudson into early October. The Grey’s Anatomy actor, known as ‘McDreamy’ on the show stars in the 10-part series, describing it as absolutely intriguing, well carried-out and captivating. The story, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, features a successful writer, Marcus Goldman, in search of inspiration for his next book. He meets with his college professor, Harry Quebert (played by Dempsey) when the body of a young girl is found, 33 years after her disappearance. Quebert being accused of the murder, Marcus tries to uncover the truth. The investigation will become the subject of his novel. The 10-part series will air on cable networks in 2018

Mapping a safe road home for Northern Map Turtles James Armstrong PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG Not the biggest story of the year but arguably one of the cutest. Two tiny Northern Map Turtles, barely five days old, were released into their natural habitat of the Raquette River in Rigaud on Thursday, September 7. The hatchlings, a vulnerable species each about the size of a Canadian two dollar coin, took to the water in a matter of minutes and hid under a protective log. They were released by Guylaine Nadeau from Service d’Intervention Animale Rive Nord, a non-profit organization that provides an intervention service for wildlife in urban areas of Quebec. Life for the two young turtles began with the tragic end of their mother’s life. “She was found on the road in this area and her condition wasn’t good,” recounted Nadeau. The adult female turtle had sustained serious injuries that were infected. “We were unable to save her, but as she died, she laid two eggs.” The eggs gestated in an incubator until they hatched.

Vaudreuil-Dorion water woes James Armstrong PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG Enjoying a glass full of cold, fresh, safe water from the faucet will remain a dream for residents in three areas of Vaudreuil-Dorion until 2018. That was the news from the city of Vaudreuil-Dorion to the people living in the Hudson Acres, Tree Farm and Ritchie sectors that have been affected by water woes for years. According to the letter, work that was originally estimated to begin before the end of 2017 is now slated for the spring or early summer of 2018. The lack of potable water began in October 2013 when a Boil Water Advisory was issued. “The main problem is the amount of time it takes for certain (Quebec) government ministries to give us approval,” said Mayor Guy Pilon regarding the delays in the project. According to the mayor, regulations recently put in place by the province also contribute to slowing the process.

OCTOBER

Surprise closure of Ericsson’s Vaudreuil-Dorion facility after less than a year Carmen Marie Fabio Photo by John Jantak Only 10 months after the ribbon-cutting and inauguration of Ericsson’s 40,000 square-metre, $1.3 billion global Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Vaudreuil-Dorion, the telecommunications giant announced it was closing the specialized facility leading to the loss of approximately 50 jobs. Pilon said there was never a guarantee that the Swedish-based organization would commit to a minimum amount of time in the city. “The only guarantee was a tax reduction over a five-year period,” Pilon said. “For the first $100 million (taxation on the value of the building) there was no tax, for the rest, around $150 million, there was a reduction of 50 per cent decreasing over five years.” Even with the deal in place, Pilon said the town recouped $1.2 million in taxation revenue last year.

St. Lazare responds to leaked document over managers’ salaries Carmen Marie Fabio PHOTO COURTESY FACEBOOK St. Lazare Mayor Robert Grimaudo said he was “absolutely disgusted” following news that a working document disclosing the salaries of town employees, including overtime, between 2013 and 2015 had been leaked from a councillor and made the rounds on social media. The social media post includes 18 of the employees’ names and cumulative salaries, and Grimaudo said the salary information on each position – without the names – would have been granted through an access to information had the request been made. The social media feedback elicited comments that were both supportive and incredulous of the salaries. In a communiqué released by Town of St. Lazare Communications Director Geneviève Hamel, the amounts are clarified as follows. “The information you see is each manager’s 2015 annual salary. The other columns are the 2013, 2014, 2015 combined hours of overtime worked during the year plus vacation hours managers did not have a chance to take plus sick days not used during each respective year.” Directors’ pay scales are determined by collective agreement and Grimaudo said they’re on par, if not lower, than other towns with a comparable population size of about 20,000.

NOVEMBER

Municipal Elections Carmen Marie Fabio PHOTO BY CÉLINE PILON The speculation on who would run for the position of area mayor began, in some cases, in 2016 and the four year race picked up its usual, somewhat frantic momentum as we grew closer to municipal election day in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region. It was no surprise that some mayors resumed their respective positions by acclamation, but in some cases, there was shock upon learning some long-time politicians would not be returning. Former Île-Perrot Mayor Marc Roy lost his 20-year seat at the town's helm to political newcomer Pierre Séguin, noted artist and co-organizer of the successful annual Festival de la S.O.U.PE. Former Très-Saint-Rédempteur Mayor Jean A. Lalonde also served two years as Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC Prefect, a position he forfeited after losing his mayor's seat to former Councillor Julie Lemieux who made history as Canada's first transgendered mayor. Former Vaudreuil-Soulanges NDP Member of Parliament Jamie Nicholls stepped into municipal politics handily winning his seat in Hudson and Guy Pilon beat challenger Pierre Séguin (not the same one in Île-Perrot) to return to his fourth term in office. Many returning mayors easily beat their competitors but in some cases, the voter turnout was remarkably low, reflecting either citizen satisfaction or apathy. All the players are now settled, or resettled, in place and we're off to observe and report on another four-year ride.

LBPSB Chair Suanne Stein Day resigns Carmen Marie Fabio PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO Following the announcement made April 27 that she would take an extended leave of absence from her position as Chair of the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB), Suanne Stein Day informed the board’s Council of Commissioners November 6 of her resignation, effective immediately. At the November 28, 2016 LBPSB Council of Commissioners’ monthly meeting in Dorval, Stein Day revealed she was the councillor named in a report made by Ethics Commissioner Vincent Guida. Her breaches stemmed from a letter written by a group of board and staff members that cited “not showing respectful behaviour to colleagues” and “spreading salacious gossip about colleagues involving sex and misappropriated funds.” She responded, stating, “I did not commit any wrongdoing, legally or morally. It was just a matter of understanding better my role (as chair) and my dealings with administration.” Stein Day said her resignation is not related to the Ethics Commissioner’s findings. Commissioner Noel Burke took over the role of Chair in November.

Vaudreuil-Dorion super-clinic will open in 2018 John Jantak PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK Following Health Minister Gaétan Barrette’s April 2016 pledge to build 50 super-clinics across the province, a two-storey super-clinic will be built at 2555 rue Dutrisac in Vaudreuil-Dorion and open in fall 2018. Centre medical des Trois-Lacs will provide a wide range of services and be accessible to all Vaudreuil-Soulanges residents. The agreement to proceed with the project was made about one month ago during the municipal election campaign, Mayor Guy Pilon said. Non-emergency cases will be treated at the super-clinic. This will help to ease the strain on the region’s two main hospitals – Hôpital-du-Suroît in Salaberry-de-Valley and Lakeshore General Hospital in Pointe-Claire. The 50 super clinics throughout Quebec are intended to help ease overcrowding and waiting times at hospital emergency rooms.

Preliminary inquiry set for Vaudreuil-Dorion double homicide Carmen Marie Fabio PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO A nine-day preliminary inquiry is scheduled to begin May 14, 2018 to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with the first degree murder trial of Les Cèdres residents Richard Hunt and Mélanie Binette of Coteau-du-Lac. Their appearance in the Valleyfield Courthouse November 27 before Judge Marie-Chantal Doucet comes almost a year to the day after the shooting deaths of 45-year-old Joseph Fluet and 38-year-old Steven Lamarsh in a wooded area on Montée Alstonvale in Vaudreuil-Dorion. The inquiry is expected to hear from close to 20 witnesses including civilians, police, and crime scene investigators. If sufficient evidence is provided, the pair faces two charges under section 235 of the Canadian Criminal Code - first degree murder and murder using a prohibited firearm and will face a trial by jury.

Questions arise over SPCA Ouest de l’Île requests for donations Jules-Pierre Malartre PHOTO COURTESY FACEBOOK SPCA Ouest de l’Île came under fire over a series of posts and comments made on the shelter’s Facebook page regarding a fundraiser to save a kitten. According to the fundraising page and a November 9 post on SPCA Ouest’s Facebook page, the two-month-old kitten named Travis needed to have its left hind leg amputated. The fundraising page explained a previous attempt to fix the leg had failed due to the kitten’s rambunctious nature which aggravated the injury and resulted in a diagnosis requiring amputation. A November 12 post said a total of $600 had already been raised to help pay for the surgery. While some supporters made donations, other people alleged SPCA Ouest ignored and deleted questions, comments, and offers of alternative solutions that were posted on the shelter’s Facebook page. One person alleged they offered to adopt and have Travis treated by their own veterinarian, but that SPCA Ouest refused and deleted the offer from the page. Your Local Journal reached out to SPCA Ouest for comments, but Executive Vice-President of Operations Jack Bedakelian replied, “I have left this in the capable hands of the team and expect that an update on Travis’ status will be posted very soon.” Earlier this year during an interview with Your Local Journal, Bedakelian requested to be SPCA Ouest’s sole media contact. However, Bedakelian would not reply to numerous additional requests for comments on the allegations made regarding the Travis fundraiser. On November 22, SPCA Ouest posted a new communiqué on its Facebook page thanking all donors and informing them Travis has had the surgery and was recovering. Though posts were made requesting photos and information, as of press time, there have been no subsequent updates on the kitten.

DECEMBER

Hudson proposes prohibiting construction in 100-year flood zone James Armstrong PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG A section of waterfront property in Hudson known as Sandy Beach and named by the developer/landowner the Pine Beach Project had its low and high points throughout 2017. By January, it was clear that a proposal put together by Hudson residents Bill Nash and Daniel Gautier had been rejected by the developer, Nicanco Holdings Inc., owned by Hans-Karl Muhlegg. In February, the developer made a public presentation of the proposed project to the town. The project takes in the area bounded by the Canadian Pacific Railway line, Beach Road, the Lake of Two Mountains and Quarry Point. In a negotiated agreement between the town and the developer in April, the town gained access to more beach area and the planned buildings originally close to the beach were moved back. At the same time, the developer agreed to reduce the number of units from 306 to 256 units. Residents expressed their opposition to the project during town council meetings throughout the year with council responding on various occasions that Hudson could not afford to purchase the land in question and that nothing was carved in stone regarding the actual construction of the project. The election of new mayor and council in November brought a renewed sense of direction in terms of development policy. Specifically, council approved a zoning by-law amendment in December prohibiting new construction in the 100-year flood zone. According to Mayor Jamie Nicholls, parts of the development will be affected by the zoning change.

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