Hudson Mayor calls on CMM to pay local communities for services
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
Finding a fair and equitable solution to a fencing problem was resident Trevor Smith’s goal at the March 5 Hudson council meeting.
The subdivision of Como Gardens, a piece of land in the east end of Hudson, was a topic of discussion during the Hudson Town Council meeting Monday, March 5. The proposed resolution focused on whether or not the town would accept a transfer of land for green space, parks and playgrounds, or money in lieu of the land transfer. “It’s a contentious item, because it is a wetland area in Hudson with the highest ecological value and the greatest biodiversity,” said Mayor Jamie Nicholls. “However, the subdivided area of Como Gardens has been slated for development and was issued an authorization certificate by the Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement, Faune et Parcs (MDDEFP),” said Nicholls. The subdivided land runs in a narrow band parallel to Como Gardens Street opposite the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Palliative Care Residence.
Paying for services rendered
Nicholls added that Hudson’s partners in the region, the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM), the 82 communities that make up the Montreal community, have orientations that ask for 17 per cent of biodiversity to be protected over the 82 communities.
“We hope the CMM will begin paying its member communities for the ecosystem services that they provide,” said the mayor noting Hudson is doing the work to provide ecosystem services and sometimes has to make difficult decisions.
“If we are going to save flood plains, bogs, wetlands, and forests, connecting up our landscapes so they are functioning in a way that they will serve future generations, then the CMM should be providing us with some form of compensation for the services we are providing them,” he said. “It goes two ways; we pay them for the services they provide and they should pay us for those we provide.”
Presentation by developer
Como Gardens resident Eva McCartney asked when the certificate of authorization had been issued and if the developer had provided a public consultation meeting. Nicholls said the certificate was issued November 27, 2012 but would have to verify the event of a public consultation. “I am not aware of any public presentation or consultation having taken place,” said McCartney. Council postponed the passing of the resolution and referred it to the Town of Hudson Committee of Natural Infrastructure for further consideration.
Resident Trevor Smith brought the subject of the six-foot fence on his property to council’s attention. Because the fence exceeds the permitted height, Smith said he’s received several infraction notices and has spent more than $7000 on fines and legal fees.
“I need that six-foot fence,” he said, describing how he suffers from a chronic case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) incurred while serving in the military in Vietnam. “It wasn’t until 20 years later that I was diagnosed with PTSD,” said Smith. “I built that fence after we lost our 18-foot cedar hedge along Côte Saint-Charles,” he said adding that his psychologist had certified the necessity of the fence. “I have made eight requests for a derogation or accommodation which were ignored by the previous council,” said Smith, adding he had provided the town with addresses of 12 properties that have fences with similar or greater heights than his. “I am the only one being prosecuted or persecuted for a fence height violation,” he said.
Finding a solution
He asked that council consider giving permission to a recent suggestion to build a two-foot earthen berm that would effectively reduce the fence to a four-foot height and protect it from road salt.
The mayor thanked Smith for sharing the information. “Those who don’t suffer from (PTSD) might not understand how it can crop up again and again,” said Nicholls adding the issue of the fence had been discussed in caucus.
“In terms of the berm solution, you have to go through the permitting process with the Urban Planning Department. They will help you with the details and requirements,” Nicholls said. As for other non-conforming fences in the town, the mayor said he would instruct the inspectors to verify the situation and take appropriate action. Nicholls also said council would continue to discuss the issue and look for solutions.
Grants to associations and organizations
Nicholls said he’s keeping his election promise regarding funding for Hudson’s many associations and organizations. “The envelope that was given out last year was $57,360,” he answered when Hudson Music Festival Director Blair MacKay questioned how much the organizations would receive after council approved the dispersal of the grant money.
“What happened is that, due to unforeseen circumstances, one organization’s request tripled over last year. We found middle ground but it forced us to make adjustments on all the others,” said the mayor. He added that consultations with all the organizations would be taking place in the coming weeks with each session concluding with the election of a representative to the Hudson Arts Council subcommittee. (For further information regarding the consultation schedule see www.hudson.quebec.
Gardens and flowers
Council’s approval of a resolution to hire two summer students and a horticulturalist to take care of planting and tending the various civic gardens drew the criticism of resident June Penney. She made full disclosure that she is the owner of a landscaping business and noted that besides her own company, others had been contracted by the town to do the job in the past for considerably less than the budgeted $43,000. Nicholls defended the town’s decision to make it an in-house project saying it gave the town more control over the situation.
“It also creates jobs for two summer students who have to pay for books and tuition,” he added. Penney said the planting season begins before students are available and the tending, plus the autumn clean-up, continues after they return to school in August. Nicholls said town employees under the direction of the horticulturalist would look after those specific time periods.