• John Jantak

Saint-Lazare resident recognized by councillor for persistence in landslide issue


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Chaline Valley resident Richard Meades spent eight years relentlessly addressing his concerns for the area to elected officials.

Work to stabilize the landslide zone in Chaline Valley is finally proceeding at full pace much to the relief of resident Richard Meades who spent the past eight years rallying city council to recognize the potential landslide situation and do something to resolve the problem.

His efforts were lauded by newly elected District 3 Councillor Benoît Tremblay who credits Meades for his tenacity by constantly raising the issue at the town’s monthly council meetings. Tremblay, who was recently elected to council in a by-election in early June, also lives in Chaline Valley.

‘Took his civic duty to heart’

Tremblay said Meades is a perfect example of an individual who took his civic duty to heart by persisting in getting city council to work at rectifying the landslide issue. “He doggedly maintained his position. He pursued city hall regarding the problem presented by the Quinchien River and he finally succeeded,” Tremblay told The Journal during a telephone interview.

Tremblay also commended Mayor Robert Grimaudo for working tirelessly to resolve the issue when Meades brought the issue to the forefront.

“The mayor had the courage to go forward with the effort to convince the provincial government to finance the main part of the work,” added Tremblay.

‘Took his responsibility to heart’

“Mr. Meades, for me, has been the perfect example of our citizenry at work,” said Tremblay. “He took his responsibility to heart. He convinced his fellow citizens that he was working for the safety of everyone in the district. I’m impressed with him.”

The possibility of a landslide first caught Meades’ attention in October, 2011 when a resident in Chaline Valley told him he wasn’t allowed to install a swimming pool because the area was prone to landslides. Meades went to city hall to get a map of the slide zone area.

‘Not something I wanted to keep secret’

News of the slide zone quickly gained attention among Chaline Valley residents after he posted the map at the community mailbox to make sure people were aware of the situation. Many citizens lauded Meades for making the issue public. Others criticized him saying his actions unnecessarily stigmatized the entire area and made it more difficult for homeowners to sell their houses.

“I felt something this serious needed to be made public,” Meades told The Journal. “This is not something I would have wanted to keep secret, sell my house and slither away. I’m not like that. I’m an open, honest person. I believe in doing what’s accurate and helping people.”

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Stabilization current taking place in Chaline Valley along the Quinchien River in Saint-Lazare on July 15 that will help mitigate the possibility of future landslides in the area.

All homeowners were stigmatized

Ever since then, Meades dedicated his time persuading municipal council – sometimes forcefully – to take the matter seriously and do something to stabilize the affected areas even though his property wasn’t within the slide zone area.

He attended all the public information meetings held by the province to inform residents of the status of their studies and possible solutions. He even ran for District 3 councillor in the 2013 municipal election but wasn’t elected.

Not being in the slide zone didn’t matter to Meades. He feels all homeowners were stigmatized because the entire area was regarded as being in the actual slide zone area even if some houses weren’t.

When asked how he feels about the work having begun, Meades replied, “After eight years – wonderful.” It’s going to be inconvenient lasting until the end of November. Since the issue came out, there’s no doubt people have had a lot of difficulty selling their homes. Nobody wants to buy a house in a slide zone. That cloud will finally be lifted.”

A great relief

“It’s a great relief,” said Tremblay. “I have a feeling when the work is completed at least the houses that are perched on the banks of the Quinchien River will be finally considered secure. It will change their status with the province, the houses will regain their value and life will pursue its normal course.

“This is remarkable and I’m proud of Mr. Meades and others who worked with him,” Tremblay added. “It shows that if you’re persistent enough, believe in what you do and it serves a higher purpose, it works. It’s a lesson in citizenry.”

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