• James Armstrong

Hudson plagued by snow removal problems


PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Lack of snow clearance on Main Road outside St. Thomas School is of concern to many in town, with parents having to drop off their kids and climb over snowbanks while blocking traffic in both directions.

Snow removal or the lack of it was an important topic for residents who attended the regular monthly Hudson Town Council meeting on Monday, February 5 with resident Larry Gray asking for an update on the snow removal situation.

“I was in Saint-Lazare recently on some of the smaller back streets and they are wonderful compared to here,” he said. Mayor Jamie Nicholls replied Saint-Lazare has a much larger snow removal budget and more streets to clear than Hudson.

Dissatisfaction with snow removal contractor

“We’re not completely satisfied with the way it is being carried out,” continued Nicholls of Hudson’s situation. “The streets are supposed to be seven metres wide and many of them are four-and-a-half or five metres,” he said adding that town management is documenting the problems in case the town decides to end the contract this season though one year remains.

“It’s a difficult option because we could cancel and then fall into legal proceedings and legal costs or we can try to get the contractor to follow the actual contract,” he said.

Dangerous situation

Other residents said the situation had become dangerous for motorists and pedestrians. They said streets narrowed by encroaching snow banks left few options for dealing with oncoming traffic and, coupled with slippery road surfaces, were putting the safety of pedestrians at risk including school children waiting for buses at the roadside.

Resident June Penney questioned whether the contractor had the right equipment for the job. “It’s a complex problem,” responded Nicholls adding, “It involves the equipment, the weather patterns we’re having, and the knowledge of the urban fabric of Hudson.”

New addition to mayor’s family

Mayor Jamie Nicholls and his wife Amanda MacDonald are expecting the birth of their second child. The mayor made the announcement as council approved the appointment of Councillor Barb Robinson as pro-mayor for six months beginning Tuesday, May 1. “We are planning ahead because Councillor Chloe Hutchison’s term as pro-mayor comes to an end at that time. I will need a bit of time off in the summer as Amanda is expecting a baby in July. We received word today that it is healthy, everything is going well and it will be a girl,” said Nicholls to a round of applause.

Redesign of Town Hall interior

Council approved a motion to replace the reception counter at town hall and reconfigure the workstations and add two new ones in the same location. “The idea behind this redesign is to make the town hall friendlier. When you come in, the reception desk will be less imposing,” said the mayor. The cost of the project is $7,872.95.

Sûreté du Québec priorities

Council passed a motion prioritizing the policing services provided by the Sûreté du Québec (SQ). The list comprised the following:

  • Speeding on arteries including Bellevue and Cameron Streets and Côte-Saint-Charles Road.

  • Speeding caused by snowmobile users.

Regarding criminal investigations:

  • Narcotics at Sandy Beach, at the Wharf, near Château du Lac, near the library, and near the cemetery.

Regarding proximity policing:

  • Support for implementing the pet by-law;

  • Presence at town council meetings upon request;

  • Monitoring hiking trails;

  • Attendance at special events such as: Christmas Parade, St-Patrick’s Parade, Canada Day, Street Fair, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, Hudson Car Show, British Car Show, ShiverFest, Music Fest, and the Arts in Nature Festival.

The budget for SQ services to the town is $1.48 million for 2018.

PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

There was a moment of levity during the February Hudson Town Council meeting when resident Frank Hicks (at the microphone) offered to provide the potato chips for a cannabis conference.

Cannabis concerns

In view of upcoming legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes, council mandated member Jim Duff to attend an upcoming conference on the cannabis market in Montreal in May. The intent of the conference is to demystify the benefits and risks related to the cannabis market such as financing, production, consumer trends, marketing and quality assurance. During question period, resident Frank Hicks offered to accompany Councillor Duff and provide the potato chips.

Raising the Pride flag

During an interview following the council meeting, the mayor said that he wanted to raise the Pride flag in front of the town hall. “We haven’t decided on a specific date, yet,” said Nicholls adding the intention is to keep it permanently raised rather than for a short period of time.

Maintaining decorum

In his opening remarks, Mayor Nicholls reminded those attending council meetings to keep the topic of their questions focused on agenda items and maintain them to a maximum of three minutes. He also said he preferred to be referred to by his title rather than his first name when being addressed during council meetings. “The reason why I bring this up is because often, in the past, question periods have gotten unruly and it has turned citizens off coming to these assemblies,” said Nicholls. “We have offered citizens an opportunity for more substantive discussions and exploration of the issues at their monthly district meetings.”

The mayor referred to Hudson By-law 348 as the governance for the question periods during council meetings. He thanked everyone for their cooperation, decorum, and patience over the past months.

Does the mayor vote at council meetings?

“Are you aware that By-law 348 was adopted in 1996 in accordance with the Cities and Towns Act of its time?” asked resident Louise Craig during the first question period. She said the by-law states the mayor must vote and not voting would be recorded as negative vote. “As I know through the Code Morin, my duties are to open and close the assembly, grant the right to speak and give the floor, call to order anyone not respecting order, decide on points of order, and must remain neutral at all times,” responded Nicholls. The Code Morin refers to a text published in 1938 by Québec notary Victor Morin titled Proédures des assemblées délibérantes. In an interview following the meeting, the mayor said he represents the entire town but only votes to break a tie so that the discussion may continue. The relevant section of the Cities and Towns Act forwarded to The Journal by Nicholls states,

“The mayor or any person presiding at a sitting of the council shall be entitled to vote but need not do so; every other member of the council must vote, unless he is prevented therefrom by reason of his interest in the matter concerned, under the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities.” Councillor Duff commented that in his understanding of the situation, Craig’s question was about the need to repeal By-law 348 and replace it with a by-law that encompasses everything that has changed since the Code Morin inception.

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