• James Armstrong

Saint-Lazare residents petition council for sustainable development


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Residents from the du Fief area initiated a town-wide petition that was presented to council by Rachel Solyom.

A group of Saint-Lazare residents headed by Rachel Solyom presented a petition to town council during the question period of the council meeting on Tuesday, December 11. Solyom described how signatures on the petition, published in French and English, were garnered online and through a door-to-door campaign in the town. The petition was specifically aimed at Saint-Lazare residents and, in the interest of transparency, Solyom said the online version published on the change.org platform also garnered some support from outside the town and those signatures were disregarded in the total.

Supporting the moratorium

The petition calls for responsible and sustainable development in Saint-Lazare urging town council to protect critical natural resources, water sources, wetlands, wildlife corridors and green spaces. It supports the partial moratorium on development in the west end and asks that it remain in place until all the studies, tests, and measures required to protect the environment, particularly the sensitive subterranean water recharge zone, have been developed and put in place. It requests that a detailed and binding sustainable development plan that includes the measures presented in the Master Conservation Plan be created. The petition demanded that all these measures be properly integrated into municipal by-laws and applied systematically across the town.

Representation

The petition, according to Solyom and the group of 12 residents who carried out the work, garnered a total of 2,680 signatures.

“That represents over 18 per cent of our electorate,” said Solyom. “That’s better than the turn out for a municipal election,” commented Mayor Robert Grimaudo.

“In light of this petition and the moratorium, what are you doing to address the concerns that have been put to you and confirmed by your electorate?” asked Solyom.

“Obviously, we take this petition very seriously,” the mayor responded. “This will be first and foremost in our caucus meetings in January, 2019. I would have preferred a town-wide moratorium and there has been support for that from several members of council.” Grimaudo said the council was looking at various possibilities. “We have some very big issues to deal with including Chaline Valley,” he added.

Councillor Geneviève Lachance noted that council had already taken steps by asking the Environment Committee to look at the town’s Plan Directeur.

“We have discussed setting aside money for studies in 2019,” she said making the point that work has already begun on addressing some of the issues in the petition. Copies of the petition were presented to all the members of council and the mayor officially deposited it in the minutes of the meeting at a later point in the evening.

Chaline Valley stabilization project

Resident Richard Meades told council he’d seen a story reported in The Journal that the Chaline Valley stabilization project had been postponed until the end of 2019 or 2020.

“We don’t have an exact date for the project. We have ongoing discussions with the Ministry of Public Security,” the mayor responded. “There are a lot of factors we need to iron out including getting all the ministries of the province of Quebec to agree to work together.”

Meades countered the project has been going on for a long time.

“The reality is we have the money from the provincial government for the project,” said the mayor. “We have begun the process of asking for tenders.” Grimaudo said the project is moving forward despite its size and complexity.

“It is the largest stabilization project in a landslide zone ever undertaken in Quebec,” he noted. Meades questioned whether one of the reasons the project hadn’t started was because the town couldn’t find anyone to do the work.

“Actually, no one tendered to provide the supervision and the plans for project because of its size and complexity,” said Grimaudo. Meades noted that 25 years ago, a neighbour in Chaline Valley brought in an excavation machine and the ensuing work caused a landslide with the machine ending up in the bottom of the ravine. “Fortunately, the machine didn’t turn over,” said Meades.

“That’s why we are taking the necessary steps to solve this problem once and for all,” said the mayor. “Right now, Chaline Valley is covered by a cloud of being characterized as a potential landslide area. The end game here is to lift that cloud, that the stigma is removed,” said Grimaudo. Later in the meeting, council approved a resolution permitting the use of municipally-owned property for parking and storing the equipment required for the stabilization.

“These are lots near Sainte-Angélique and Cité-des Jeunes Streets,” said the mayor.

Composting bins

Resident Glen Gregory raised the issue of composting bins for residential use. The mayor said council would be voting on a resolution to purchase the brown bins and they would be in place by April 2019. The resolution to purchase the bins from IPL Inc. for the maximum sum of $350,000 was passed unanimously. Gregory asked council what was happening with the composting machine purchased by Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS) and installed in the municipality of Sainte-Justine-de-Newton. The mayor replied that it is now operational and the end product is being tested.

“All of our organic waste will be going to a composting site in Lachute,” said Grimaudo.

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