Quebec flood zone moratorium curbs Hudson waterfront development
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
The newly defined provincial floodplain mapping, and its effect on any development at Sandy Beach, was among the items discussed at Hudson’s monthly council meeting.
Hudson residents raised questions and concerns about the effect of the Quebec zero to 20-year flood zone development moratorium during the first question period of the monthly council meeting on Tuesday, July 2. Local artist Daniel Gautier asked if council was aware that building lots fronting on Sandy Beach on Royalview Street had ‘For Sale’ signs recently posted on them.
“What is happening with the Sandy Beach development?” asked Gautier.
“At the moment, Sandy Beach is under the decree issued by the Quebec government,” answered Mayor Jamie Nicholls adding, “That is to say, all construction permits are frozen.”
In terms of the proposed Sandy Beach development project in an area adjacent to the building lots in question, the mayor said the town is in negotiations with the property owners.
“There are several things to resolve,” he said noting the high-level watermarks of the 2019-flooding event would, in his opinion, have an effect on the project.
“The plan they presented in February 2017 cannot remain as it is,” said Nicholls. He pointed out the property owners have the right to sell their land, however. “We will continue to work on that project.”
Special Intervention Zones
The Ministère des Affaires Municipales et Habitation (MAMAH) issued an interactive map with the decree that outlined the new flood zones, or zone d’intervention spéciale (ZIS), in red across the province.
“It’s a creeping red monster,” said resident Diane Piacente. “How did they come up with this buffer zone?” She and other residents pointed out the new flood zone did not differentiate between high and low elevations of land. “We’ve had two meetings of the 17 mayors affected in Vaudreuil-Soulanges,” said Nicholls. “I can tell you there are a lot of problems with the way they have done the mapping.”
Support in principle
The mayor added they understood that, in principle, it’s a precautionary measure. Later in the meeting, council passed a resolution approving the provincial ZIS in principle with reservations.
“We believe the province may have overreached in its definition of the ZIS. At the same time we understand the application of the precautionary principle for flood zones. We are keeping in reserve to have a public consultation in Hudson.”
The goal is for the town to hear what its citizens want and represent them to the various levels of governments involved in the decree. When asked what stand the town intended to take on the decree, the mayor replied, “In principle, we agree floodplains are not great places for development and the province is changing the game plan.”
Potential loss of revenue
Nicholls said municipalities rely on property taxes as a principle source of revenue and the new flood zone plan would have a serious effect on property evaluations. He made the point that many communities, like Hudson, are conserving wetlands, forest corridors and floodplains for the benefit of all communities. In return, the communities providing ecological services need to be recognized and paid for this service.
“We need to change the economic formula,” he said and encouraged people to attend the public consultation meeting regarding the decree on Thursday, July 4 at Château Vaudreuil Hotel & Suites at 7 p.m.
No antenna on town property
In other topics discussed, the proposed installation of an antenna on town property by Rogers Communications came to a halt Tuesday evening as council rescinded a previous resolution and ceased its collaboration on the project. The mayor said council arrived at the decision after receiving input from residents and discussions with the town’s infrastructure committee.
“They will be free to choose alternative sites, according to federal law,” said the mayor.
Council approved the plans for the construction of a multi-family building at 483 Main Road. Concerns were raised about how the six-unit building would affect the mature trees on the building site next to town hall and opposite the IGA store. Resident June Penney identified one as a linden tree. Unfortunately, not all the trees can be saved, according to Councillor Jim Duff who added council is making every effort to make sure that trees of a substantial size will be planted as opposed to smaller shrubs.
Town in good financial health
“Hudson is in really good financial shape,” said the mayor as an introduction to a summary of the 2018 Financial Statement presented by Director General Philip Toone. Pierre Charron, who was hired by the Town of Hudson to assist with the management of the town’s treasury department through the firm Robert Half Management assisted him. According to the Director General, the financial statement would be posted on the town’s web site within 48 hours.