Letter to the editor 2, Nov. 22, 2018
It has been a few years since I have written a 'letter to the editor' but I feel the time is right.
It's almost the end of 2018 and we don't have a budget in Hudson, we seem to be hiring let right and centre and buying more, shiny new vehicles. Plus, it's almost Christmas and I have a few wishes;
1) Before the town votes on the 2019 budget, I wish they would make a simple, clear, concise handout for the residents which answers the following questions for every year from 2008 until now;
a) What was the population and the budget for each year?
b) What was the breakdown by department for the budget of each year?
c) What was the surplus/deficit for each year?
d) What was the average house tax for each year?
e) What percentage of the total collected taxes was residential and what was commercial for each year?
f) How many full-time and part-time employees did the town have for each year in total and by department?
g) How many vehicles did the town own in total and by category?
I wish this 'handout' to be in simple numerical and graphic format so the residents can clearly see the year-to-year changes over the past 10 years.
I wish this 'handout' would be made available to all Hudson residents in time for the district meetings so open, honest discussion could take place prior to the council's vote.
Finally, I wish the budget would be openly discussed at a town meeting prior to the vote to adopt it. It only seems fitting that the council would want to know how we feel prior to a vote instead of after it's over and adopted.
2) I wish to know the real status of Sandy Beach (AKA The Pine Beach Development). Since its public presentation in February of 2017 the town has changed the zoning regulations to prohibit building in the 20 – 100-year floodplain. There have also been rumours that the project was sold to another developer for under $9 million! I still believe that the development of this natural, wooded, fragile ecosystem along the Lake of Two Mountains will not only be an ecological disaster, it will take away a part of Hudson and the Montreal region that has become a place where people from far and near come to enjoy one of the only undeveloped, wooded, waterfront parks for hundreds of kilometres.
Once developed, it will just be another overcrowded, overregulated, overdeveloped place that has lost its appeal to not only the residents of Hudson but all the people who now visit Hudson just to go to Sandy Beach.
I submitted a petition to the council over two years ago from over 500 residents of Hudson along with another 600 signatures from visitors who would rather see Sandy Beach acquired by the town than have it developed. To date, I don't believe this council or the previous council ever even gave this petition the decency of discussing it in public or in caucus. A significant number of Hudson residents expressed their opinion and desire and were literally shunned by both councils.
Either the town opens up the discussion of stopping the development of Sandy Beach and acquiring the property or we continue to sit back and let our town be shaped and run by a very small group of people with their own agenda instead of having the heart and will of the people decide our future.
3) I wish there would be more 'transparency.' I have heard the last two councils proclaim themselves the most transparent councils of all time. If this is true, then why did I have to file a freedom of information request to find out about the proposed coastguard station on Wharf Road? Why aren't the meeting minutes of TPAC meetings posted on the town webpage and why don't the department heads attend council meetings so they can respond to questions regarding their particular departments? Both of these were part and parcel of previous councils.
4) Finally, I wish we could all come together and make sure Hudson doesn't become another overcrowded, off-island bedroom community overrun by cars and traffic lights. We have something special. Let's work together to keep it like it is instead of pushing for it to be something it doesn't want to be.
Hudson has resisted over development for 50 years. Let’s not be the ones responsible for its demise.
Happy holidays to all.