• James Armstrong

Hudson businesses protest proposal to bury overhead power lines

PHOTO BY NICK ZACHARIAS

Hudson council is exploring the cost of relocating the Hydro wires on Main Road underground but Mayor Jamie Nicholls said it’s unlikely any changes would occur before 2022 and that consultative processes would be followed.

Contrary to rumours circulating in Hudson prior to the town council meeting held Monday, August 6, the overhead Hydro Québec power lines in the town will remain where they are for the foreseeable future according to Mayor Jamie Nicholls.

“We are exploring the costs and subsidies but there is no action, right now, that will happen without proper consultation with business owners, as well as the general citizenry,” said the mayor during his remarks prefacing the meeting.

A petition signed by Hudson downtown residents, property and business owners, was presented to council by resident Louise Craig insisting that council halt all consideration of the project until a meaningful consultation process is put in place.

Petition from business owners and residents

The petition emphasized the prohibitive cost to business owners and residents, including serious loss of revenue to commercial enterprises because of access problems. It pointed to similar projects on Laurier and Saint-Denis Streets in Montreal where merchants reported losses of up to 50 per cent of their revenue due to the infrastructure project. The signatories of the Hudson petition demanded a $10 million surety to defray potential losses and $1000 per business to help with costs of financial audits required to determine the losses incurred throughout the duration of the project.

Several merchants were present in support of the petition stating their concerns about the negative impact of the project on local business. The mayor responded by reiterating his earlier statement that there is no action plan in place, that the town was merely exploring the issue. He also welcomed impact statements from the business owners.

“If there was an action plan in place, we would be looking at probably 2022 before anything happened because of the backlog with Hydro Québec,” added Nicholls. He assured everyone that the consultative process would happen before any decisions were made.

Sandy Beach dog ban lifted

Dogs were welcomed back to Hudson’s Sandy Beach as council approved a resolution permitting dogs on leash on Sandy Beach before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. from May 1 to October 1, 2018. After October 1, until May 1, 2019, dogs on leash would be allowed on the beach at all hours of the day. As a result of the temporary dog ban and the ensuing discussion of the issue, council approved the creation of an advisory committee headed by councillors Barbara Robinson and Jim Duff. The committee was mandated to consult with citizens on how to improve the Hudson pet by-law.

“We realized a lot of other questions had come up regarding pets and our pet by-laws and their enforcement,” said Nicholls.

Zero tolerance policy

Council also approved a resolution adopting a zero tolerance policy regarding violence in the municipal workplace but not unanimously. The dissenting councillors, Chloe Hutchison and Jim Duff, expressed concerns regarding the legality of the policy including issues of freedom of speech specifically on social media under federal and provincial charters.

“Who has looked at this to make sure it is in accordance with the federal and provincial charters and all the provincial regulations regarding workplace safety and security? I need to be assured about that and I need a third party legal opinion,” said Duff when he spoke on the issue during the second question period.

“To clarify, that in the policy those two laws were taken into account,” responded the mayor adding, “The intent of this policy is not intended to go after people for expressing an opinion on social media.”

He said the cycle of aggression has certain steps according to published literature on the subject.

“Aggression starts somewhere and it can escalate. We have to have that conversation as a town to decide what violence means, what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable,” he said pointing out that having a clear internal policy allows the town to act without having to take legal action.

“I see this as positive policy,” Nicholls said. “Violence in the workplace is not acceptable.”

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