Recent flood tested mettle of Mayor Pilon who was honoured for 20 years of service
PHOTO COURTESY VILLE DE VAUDREUIL-DORION
(From left to right): Councillor Céline Chartier, Councillor Josée Clément, Director General Martin Houde, Mayor Guy Pilon, Councillor François Séguin, Councillor Jasmine Sharma, Councillor Paul Dumoulin and Councillor Diane Morin at the Union des Municipalitiés du Quebec gala where Mayor Pilon received a tribute for his 20 years of municipal public service.
Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon was honoured for his 20 consecutive years of municipal political service at a recent gala event that was hosted by the Union des Municipalitiés du Québec (UMQ).
Pilon met with The Journal at his city hall office on June 4 to speak about his award and his two-decade long career as councillor and mayor of the largest city within the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region. He was first elected as councillor in 1998. Seven years later he decided to seek the top spot and was elected mayor in 2005.
Flooding the greatest challenge
When asked what his greatest challenge has been throughout his career in municipal politics, the mayor unhesitatingly replied having to deal with two consecutive floods within the past three years. “It’s quite challenging because you don’t know when the water is going to stop rising,” said Pilon.
“I would wake up at 1:30 in the morning, put my boots on and go to the fire station to find out how it was going, how many calls were received, and make sure nothing terrible happened. Then I would get into my car, go around the town and speak to the police officers and ask how it’s going. Then I would speak to the people who were affected,” said Pilon.
‘You have to be optimistic’
“You have to look like you’re in control of everything because you have to reassure people, but it’s not easy. There are times you just feel like, ‘tabarouette!’ At this point you can’t let yourself go down. You have to show people that you’re strong and the town is strong. You have to be optimistic,” added Pilon.
The record high water level of 25.10 metres this year, which surpassed the highest point of 24.66 metres recorded in 2017, also proved very challenging but the city was prepared ahead of time, said Pilon. A large concrete dike was built along Saint-Charles Avenue which kept the rising water of the Lake of Two Mountains from flooding onto the roadway. The dike was reinforced with plastic sheathing and sandbags.
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon said the recent floodings presented his greatest challenges in his role as mayor.
Situation under control
“The dike is the main picture people kept in the heads. After this, people realized the town had the situation under control. I received dozens of calls of congratulations. We had a drone fly overhead and you could see the water at the dike and the cars driving alongside it. This is the best thing we could have done to reassure people,” said Pilon.
The dike also enabled the city to keep the elementary and high schools at the Cité-des-Jeunes campus open throughout the flood which lasted at least six weeks, four weeks longer than in 2017.
“We had divers go into the lake to block the pipes to prevent the backflow of water from inundating the city streets inland,” said Pilon. He also congratulated his municipal employees for tireless work throughout the flood crisis.
Honoured by the tribute
Looking back at his 20 years as councillor and mayor, Pilon said he was honoured to have received the tribute. He said two councillors – François Séguin and Paul Dumoulin – have a longer tenure at about 26 years each.
“As mayor, I have the longest streak. I’m very happy about the 20 years. It’s gone by so fast. I haven’t had much time to think about it because when I started as mayor in 2005, it was around the time Vaudreuil-Dorion started to have its boom. I’m very happy with what’s been accomplished. We’re not finished but the biggest jobs have been done,” said Pilon.
He lists off some of the major infrastructure projects that have been completed. The water and sewage treatment plants, the road system with the expansion of the Saint-Charles Bridge over Highway 40, the planned expansion of Boulevard de la Cité-des-Jeunes slated for this year, and the vast network of bicycle paths.
“These are technical achievements. I’m very happy we have a lot of young families. We have parks and water games. We doubled the size of the arena. We have the Centre Multisports which is a major achievement for a town our size,” said Pilon. “We also have the Je Suis cultural program which has made us renowned around the world.”