• James Armstrong

Saint Lazare launches survey of residents on hot topic issues


THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO

The future of Saint-Lazare’s Au Galop equestrian festival will largely depend on a citizen poll being carried out by Leger Marketing over the next few weeks.

A telephone survey of Saint-Lazare residents began Wednesday, May 9 according to Mayor Robert Grimaudo. “During the election campaign there was a lot of discussion about some issues in Saint-Lazare. Rather than base our decisions on our opinions about these issues, we will base them on the results of a survey done by Leger Marketing,” said Grimaudo in an interview following the town council meeting Tuesday, May 8.

Evaluating citizen perception and priority

Council approved a resolution earlier in the evening that allowed for a maximum payment of $13,100 to the marketing firm for preparation of the questionnaire, carrying out the survey, and the production of a final report. According to the resolution, the polarizing topics were the Saint-Lazare Au Galop equestrian event, the proposed construction of a traffic circle at the intersection of Chemin Saint-Louis and Avenue Bédard, and a revitalization project for downtown Saint-Lazare.

“Leger Marketing will be asking predetermined questions on the subjects. Let’s find out what the citizens think,” said Grimaudo, adding that, in his opinion, discussions on the issues on social media platforms tended to be one-sided.

“If you believe everything you read on Facebook, we don’t need a traffic circle. But the people stuck in traffic every day say that we do,” said the mayor. The survey is expected to contact about 400 residents during the month of May.

Saint-Lazare financial health

With a budget surplus of $3.5 million, the Town of Saint-Lazare is in good financial health, according to Grimaudo. He spoke about the financial issues of the town as the externally audited financial statement for 2017 was deposited during the council meeting.

“We always have a budget surplus, said Grimaudo, adding, “For example, when we do our budget at the end of the year, we inject money from the surplus to offset a property tax increase.”

Director of Finance and Treasurer Brigitte Bonin presented a detailed analysis of the audited statement. The analysis showed that a part of the budget surplus was due to the refund of an overpayment for the services of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) in the amount of $636,000.

“Part of the surplus also comes from revenue that was higher than anticipated in the budget,” said the mayor.

Long-term debt

The long-term debt for the town was pegged at $28,055,318. “That amount will be reimbursed in the amount of 11 per cent through grants from the Quebec government, 59 per cent of the repayment will come from all tax contributions and 30 per cent represents debt by municipal sector,” the mayor said in his statement. The debt by municipal sector refers to street paving, and other infrastructure work in local areas of the town.

PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

The safety concerns over drone photography was raised again during the May 8 Saint-Lazare town council meeting. Director General Serge Tremblay (right) defended the town’s position when confronted by resident Richard Meades (left).

Drone issue

Resident Richard Meades raised the drone issue during the first question period saying that he was feeling intimidated and bullied because he had received a letter from Transport Canada.

“Nobody bothered to call me and ask if I actually owned a drone, had flown it and taken a picture,” said Meades adding he had received the letter on his birthday. Meades said he had asked someone who owned a drone to take the pictures of the new town hall as it was being constructed. (See the article by John Jantak in the Thursday, May 3 issue of The Journal)

“The day that somebody flew the drone, I was on the roof,” responded Director General Serge Tremblay adding that employees had reported to him that they didn’t like the situation because the drone was too close. “That is why we made a complaint,” said Tremblay.

“Then why did you assume it was me?” asked Meades. “You were the one with the picture and it was a safety issue. We don’t want that kind of thing to happen again,” Tremblay replied.

“Obviously, when you post pictures like that, people are going to assume you are responsible for them,” said the mayor. “The town did the investigation it had to do.” In the end, both sides agreed the issue was over.

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