Stories of the year - July to December

Vaudreuil-Dorion limits birdfeeders to two per house

By John Jantak

Photo by Carmen Marie Fabio

Vaudreuil-Dorion council adopted a resolution July 3 to limit the number of birdfeeders to two at each private residence. The measure aims to reduce the amount of birds that congregate around the feeders and especially at neighbouring properties that don’t have them.

The resolution was proposed by Councillor François Séguin who said he’s received complaints from area homeowners. He was told that people with many feeders attract a lot of birds that begin to converge on neighbouring rooftops.

While the feeders attract small birds, they also bring in larger species like pigeons and grackles that scour the ground for fallen seeds, said Mayor Guy Pilon. They are more aggressive, pushing away smaller birds and producing more waste.

“People are fed up not because the birds are being fed, but because the birds are doing their business on their neighbour’s roofs, patios, driveways and cars,” Pilon told The Journal.

One woman called the city to complain about an estimated 15 birdfeeders within a 200 square-foot area. “They go to her roof because it’s warm. It’s a real mess. Can you imagine what it would be like if you have a condo or a townhouse and everyone put out three, four or five feeders?”

Train derailment in Saint-Polycarpe

By James Armstrong

Courtesy photo

The clean-up crews were in full action mode July 17 on the site of a freight train derailment accident in which 22 cars left the tracks while traversing the small town of Saint-Polycarpe. The accident had occurred less than 24 hours earlier and officials from federal, provincial, regional and municipal governments visited the site throughout the day.

Though propane and diesel fuel were some of the substances being transported, the only confirmed leak was of cooking oil.

The cause of the derailment was not revealed.

Hudson curbs dogs at Sandy Beach

By Carmen Marie Fabio

Photo by James Armstrong

Over 60 people were in attendance at a special Hudson council meeting July 13 to discuss the issue of off-leash dogs at Sandy Beach in light of an earlier incident in which a resident was bitten while walking along the shoreline.

“It’s for an unfortunate event that we’re forced into action,” Mayor Jamie Nicholls told the standing-room-only crowd. “Following a discussion with Public Security Chief Philippe Baron the day after, we convened agreeing we needed to get the beach under control for the safety and security of all Hudsonites.”

Sandy Beach had long had a reputation as a dog-friendly place, particularly after the publication in May, 2018 of an article in le Journal de Montréal that described it as,

“… the secret beach 40 minutes from Montreal where you can bring your dog this summer.”

Nicholls said the day after the bite incident, Baron visited the beach and counted 13 dogs, eight which were off leash. “The precedent was 32 dogs,” he said. “We have to get the situation under control.”

As of August 7, council decided to ban dogs from the beach in the area bounded by the wooden bridge entrance to Jack Layton Park, and all access on Royalview Street, including the woodland and shoreline, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from May 1 to October 1 every day of the week.

Police presence increases following Hudson home invasion

By John Jantak and Carmen Marie Fabio

Photo by John Jantak

The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) has not disclosed any further information on the late August home invasion on Pine Street in Hudson that left a woman slightly injured and the family dog limping from a kick dealt by the intruders.

On August 26, 41-year-old Natalie Poirier was awoken her home around 2 a.m. by loud banging sounds. The front-entrance security camera footage she later posted on social media showed two white French-speaking males force their way through her front door and into her home and the sound of her screams can be heard shortly after.

The pair, both in their early to mid-20s, demanded Poirier give them money as they physically assaulted her and kicked her 11-year-old dog.

“It all happened within four minutes,” she told The Journal. “They attacked me; they choked me; they brought me down. I bit them. I fought like hell. I was down on the ground and they were looking for where they money was. They were sure in their minds that I had money.”

The men proceeded to rampage through her home, overturning drawers and cabinets and ripping off closet doors.

Poirier was able to escape the house after telling the attackers she had $40 in her wallet in another room. Giving them the wallet, she then ran out towards Cedar Street and a passing motorist who had just moved to Hudson two days prior brought Poirier and her dog into her car to wait for the police to arrive.

According to the SQ, the case is still under investigation.

Hudson Director General leaves his position

Story and file photo by Carmen Marie Fabio

Almost three years to the day of his hiring, Hudson Director General Jean-Pierre Roy left the job.

“This is not a negative situation,” he told The Journal August 29. “I’m leaving Hudson with my head held high and proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

Roy, a resident of Vaudreuil-Dorion, said his departure was a mutually agreed upon decision and said though there were some difficult and unpleasant experiences during his tenure, the positive outweighed the negative.

His initial hiring was not without controversy as some residents questioned allegations that followed his eight-years as DG of Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures on Quebec’s lower north shore, allegations that former Mayor Ed Prévost then staunchly refuted saying, “We did all the necessary reference work and we will respond vociferously to any false accusations.”

“We had different visions for the future of the town,” said Hudson Mayor Jamie Nicholls. “Jean-Pierre led us through a difficult period in Hudson’s history and we’re now positive about a new stage in the town’s growth.”

Rush hour ban onto Highway 20 West from Ste. Anne’s will last one year

Story and photo by John Jantak

The anticipated traffic nightmare forecast for the inauguration of a new traffic restriction that took effect September 17 in Ste. Anne de Bellevue never happened.

It was the first day of a law that forbade left-hand turns from Saint-Pierre Street north onto the Highway 20 onramp between 4 and 6 p.m., Monday to Friday. In order to access the Galipeau Bridge, motorists must go east and exit at Morgan Road in Baie d’Urfé to turn around and continue westward.

“It was an excellent first day,” Mayor Paola Hawa told The Journal. “It went better than I expected. The streets in the village were empty. I can’t complain.”

The city’s public security department and police officers from Station 1 were on-hand directing traffic and informing drivers of the new restrictions. Police were also set up at the commuter train station, Ste. Anne’s Hospital and the Valacta Dairy Production Centre parking lot on Anciens-Combattants Boulevard to make sure motorists weren’t trying to skirt the new regulations by making illegal U-turns.

Historic win for CAQ candidate Marilyne Picard in Soulanges riding

Story and photo by James Armstrong

Excitement and elation ran high October 1 at Marilyne Picard’s Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ)campaign headquarters as the polling station reports rolled in and it became evident she had won the riding.

Throughout the evening, the results swung back and forth between Picard and incumbent Liberal candidate Lucie Charlebois. Picard’s win paralleled the historic majority win of her party as neither the Liberals nor the Parti Québécois were able to maintain their 40-year grip on governing the province.

Picard’s win was also significant as it up-ended Charlebois, the Liberal incumbent who had represented the Soulanges riding since its creation in 2003.

“I am impressed that people have put their trust in me,” said Picard. “They have voted for change,” she said. According to Picard, voter support for the CAQ vision came from across the riding.

Nichols re-elected to second term as Vaudreuil MNA

Story and photo by John Jantak

Provincial Liberal candidate Marie-Claude Nichols was re-elected to a second consecutive term in the riding of Vaudreuil on October 1, receiving 39.9 per cent of the total vote. Runner-up Claude Bourbonnais of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) received 32.6 percent of the vote.

Nichols, along with around 40 supporters, gathered at her campaign headquarters in Vaudreuil-Dorion apprehensively watching the election results as they were broadcast and early results showed a close race between her and Bourbonnais.

At around 9:20 p.m., Nichols was declared the official winner as family, friends, supporters and campaign volunteers resoundingly cheered her victory.

Nichols thanked everyone for their support throughout her campaign and pledged she would keep working on behalf of all her constituents regardless of their political affiliation. Reflecting on her win, Nichols said it was bittersweet.

“I’m really happy to be re-elected but I’m a little bit sad too for my colleagues who did not win,” she said.

Long-time Soulanges Liberal MNA Lucie Charlebois who served her constituency for just over 15 consecutive years lost to CAQ candidate and political newcomer Marilyne Picard. Charlebois won her first provincial election in Soulanges in 2003.

Area dairy farmers vent frustrations at Town Hall Meeting

Story and photo by Carmen Marie Fabio

Though concerns on legalized cannabis and cybersecurity were raised, it was the recently negotiated USMCA (United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement) and its effects on supply chain management in the dairy industry that dominated the October 9 Town Hall Meeting held by Vaudreuil-Soulanges MP Peter Schiefke.

Emotions ran high at the NDIP Community Centre as dairy farmers voiced their frustrations over the draft agreement that will allow American dairy producers 3.59 per cent of the Canadian market.

“We’re worried,” said André Séguin, Vaudreuil-Soulanges representative of the Producteurs de lait Montérégie-Ouest. “We feel we were betrayed by our Prime Minister.”

Séguin outlined the challenges that USMCA, coupled with the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, would pose to local producers that would allow a market share of what he says is closer to 10 per cent, translating to 800 million litres of milk, or the equivalent of 12,000 medium-sized family farms.

“The deal we reached was the best one under the circumstances,” Schiefke said, describing how the Americans initially sought to completely dismantle Canada’s dairy supply chain management. “If you look at what Mexico gave up, it’s 10 times what Canada lost.”

USMCA was signed November 30.

Landmark florist Hollandia closes

By Carmen Marie Fabio

Photo by Lauren Mitchell

A community fixture in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region that began as a small garden centre almost 60 years ago, selling local produce including strawberries, tomatoes and asparagus, announced it would be shutting its doors by November 11 after being for sale for close to two years.

After emigrating from the Netherlands in 1953, original owner Herman Pouw began growing and selling the fruits of his labour.

“It started off very small, and then he added the windmill,” said Herman’s son Peter Pouw. “Then it grew and grew, and we added more greenhouses.” Peter recounted fond memories how he and his seven siblings all grew up pitching in to help out. “We would come in evenings and on weekends. We all put effort in to make it happen. It was a real family business.”

Peter said competition from not only regional florists but from big-box stores made it tougher to succeed but credits the area residents for their loyalty.

“There has to be something we can do to thank the community for all their support,” said Peter. “It’s been a long run, and it’s been a great run.”

Pincourt mulls future of abandoned arena

Story and photo by John Jantak

The City of Pincourt will move a community garden located on school board land if an agreement is reached with the Commission scolaire des Trois-Lacs to build a new arena on vacant property next to École secondaire du Chêne-Bleu.

Pincourt’s commitment to preserve the garden was made by City Manager Michel Perrier. “If we go ahead with the arena project, the garden will probably be moved across the street,” said Perrier.

The city is in the process of determining the fate of the abandoned arena. Plans by the city to upgrade the interior to bring it up to current standards have also pretty much been abandoned, said Perrier

“Everything would be so complicated and expensive that it’s not a viable solution for anybody. There’s just no way we can support this kind of expense even though most of the building is still in good shape.”

There is also no firm commitment on what will happen to the land if the abandoned arena is demolished. Possible scenarios for the abandoned arena land have included exclusive residential or commercial development, or a combination of both.

As of November 22, the Town of Pincourt released a communiqué saying members of Chêne-Bleu’s Green Project had recently planted 20 trees on the school grounds including plum, pear, pawpaw and apple trees thanks to a grant from Tree Canada.

Hudson’s Boutique NOVA holds fire sale after arson

By James Armstrong

Photo by Tania Ellerbeck

NOVA Hudson’s clothing boutique located at 455 Main Road reopened October 23 following an early morning fire October 20 that destroyed an empty shed behind the adjacent building at 457 Main Road.

Smoke damage to the contents of La Boutique NOVA that resells gently used donated clothing and accessories to raise funds for quality nursing care and support for patients and their families in the community made the sale necessary.

Arson is suspected regarding the Saturday morning blaze according to Assistant Director of the Hudson Fire Department Daniel Leblanc.

A jerrycan for gasoline was noticed close to the building and was considered part of the investigation, according to Leblanc.

New Vaudreuil-Dorion high-rise development raises concerns

Story and photo by John Jantak

A public consultation meeting to inform residents about revisions to a high-rise residential project in Vaudreuil-Dorion drew a lot of questions not only about the scale of the project, but also about the increase in population density, traffic and other issues.

The project will be built on the south side of Rue Émile-Bouchard behind the Centre Multisports.

The revised proposal features four two-tiered rental unit buildings that will be staggered in height. The first structure will have 17 and 14 floors and be built next to Émile-Bouchard, which will make it the tallest building in Vaudreuil-Dorion. The adjacent two-tiered buildings will have nine and six floors.

The second pair of buildings will have 15 and 12 floors, and eight and six floors respectively. The four buildings will have a total of 402 rental units. The descending height was made to provide unobstructed sunlight to residents living in the hockey player sector at Château de la Gare, just south of the new development.

The final project will be the tallest structure the town.

Residents were told construction will go ahead regardless whether the revised proposal is accepted or not. If it isn’t accepted, the original plan to build four 12-storey units will be revived. A total of 352 rental units will be built and the ground floor of each building will be reserved for commercial space

The project broke ground November 6.

Pincourt extends Place Pierre Brunet environmental study into next spring

Forest reprieve seen as a ‘stay of execution’

Story and photo by John Jantak

The forest and wetlands in Place Pierre Brunet will remain intact, at least until early next summer following a resolution that was adopted by Pincourt council November 13 to extend the length and scope of the environmental study it commissioned this fall. A second study will begin in the spring of 2019.

The news was welcomed by area residents and conservationists who have consistently pleaded with council to preserve the woodland – also known as Rousseau Forest – saying it’s one of the last remaining forests in the municipality and provides important environmental benefits to the community and the town.

Pincourt residents applauded the announcement made by the town. “It’s a major victory for the forest. We are glad our voices have been heard and our efforts and hard work have been appreciated and taken seriously. I call it a stay of execution,” said Denise Goudreau.

“But we’re not out of the woods yet. Our ultimate goal is to save Rousseau Forest permanently. Until then, we will continue to raise awareness of this jewel of an ecosystem right in our backyard. I feel very hopeful,” Goudreau added.

Saint-Lazare approves partial moratorium on development

Story and photo by James Armstrong

Saint-Lazare town council voted in favour of a resolution declaring a partial moratorium on housing development for an indefinite period. It is ‘partial’ in that it affects a specific sector of the town that includes the proposed du Fief development in the west end. It did not pass unanimously with dissenting votes cast by Mayor Robert Grimaudo and Councillor Pamela Tremblay.

“My biggest concern is that we should not be looking at just one sector. There are sectors near Chaline Valley that are extremely environmentally sensitive,” Grimaudo said.

“We need to do environmental studies and studies of the recharge zone for subterranean water in the du Fief area,” said Councillor Geneviève Lachance.

She said council has to consider and examine development files for the eastern part of the town but the issues for that area are different. “It’s a question of infrastructure and public security and we don’t make decisions until we are presented with a project file.”

Agreeable arrangement for Guzzo cinema in Pincourt could take another 18 months

Story and photo by John Jantak

Lights...camera...CUT!

Local movie buffs who have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the planned Cinema Guzzo multiplex for the past two years will be disappointed to learn that while the project isn’t officially dead, it could take another 12 to 18 months for the financial details to be worked out, according to entertainment mogul Vincenzo Guzzo.

As CEO and President of Cinema Guzzo, he clarified an early November report that stated the multiplex slated for the Faubourg de L’Île indoor shopping mall had been officially scrapped. “What I said was we did not come to a financially agreeable understanding with the mall,” Guzzo told The Journal adding he asked the mall administration to remove the ‘coming soon’ signs.

“We’re disappointed to hear the news,” said Pincourt Town Manager Michel Perrier. The town, along with many residents, had been anticipating the cinema for two years, ever since the first banners advertising construction of the theatre were hung on the exterior facade of the mall facing Highway 20 in November 2016.

Vaudreuil-Dorion overpass closure could last up to five years says mayor

New Île-aux-Tourtes Bridge in 12 years

Story and photo by John Jantak

Motorists who regularly used the Chemin des Chenaux Bridge before it was closed in late summer could be in for a long wait before it reopens. It may take at least five years before the necessary repairs to make the bridge safe again are completed, according to Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon.

“We’re sure the bridge is going to be kept closed in 2019. If it’s a repair that has to be done, at best it’ll happen by 2020. If the bridge has to be replaced, it could take until 2022 or 2023. It’s nonsense.”

It means that motorists who would usually get off at Exit 36 and use the des Chenaux bridge to cross over to the southeast side of Highway 40, now have to continue until the next exit, cross the Avenue St. Charles bridge and double back to get to their original destination which increases traffic congestion in the area.

As reported back in July, 2018 Liberal MNA Marie-Claude Nichols said the provincial Ministry of Transport (MTQ) confirmed the replacement of the over 50-year-old Île-aux-Tourtes Bridge and was in the process of determining on which side of the existing structure the new span would be built.

The new bridge will be wider than the existing structure with lanes dedicated to public transport to support the rapidly growing off-island population. Following the up-to six-year planning stage, the estimated five-year construction project would have the new bridge in service by 2030.

Another setback for area hospital

PHOTO COURTESY MRC VAUDREUIL-SOULANGES

John Jantak

The biggest story of the year came at the end. Elected officials and residents in Vaudreuil-Soulanges are reeling following the news that the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government will move the proposed regional hospital to an unknown location citing preservation of agricultural land as just one factor. See full story here.

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