• Nick Zacharias

Hudson Town Council moves forward to protect wetlands


PHOTO BY NICK ZACHARIAS

Natural wetlands, like this one off Léger Street in Hudson, will be protected from filling and drainage by a minimum 30-metre construction buffer outlined in a draft by-law adopted this week by Hudson Town Council.

The regular meeting of the Hudson Town Council took place this week with a smaller than average but engaged group of citizens (perhaps some were home watching the federal leaders’ debate that took place at the same time).

After a campaign by local environmental protection group Nature Hudson, the town has moved forward to adopt a draft by-law concerning wetland protection. The root of the movement came from citizen concerns over the threat to wetlands with the planned 100+ lot Willowbrook development in the area of Main Road and Léger Street. Under the new by-law the development will continue to proceed, but wetlands in the area, and in the whole of Hudson, will enjoy greater protection from construction encroachment.

The protection applies to all wetlands within the limits of the Town of Hudson. It prohibits construction, backfilling, excavation or drainage works within all wetlands identified in the conservation plan, and establishes a new minimum 30-metre protective strip surrounding the outer limits of those areas.

Some opposition

The vote was carried with two councillors, Jim Duff and Daren Legault, opposed. When resident Louise Craig asked why some voted “nay,” Duff responded, “We haven’t had a legal opinion rendered, but I’m concerned that extending the buffer from 10 to 30 metres could be seen as expropriation that may expose the town to litigation.” Despite this concern, the town is moving ahead.

Mayor Jamie Nicholls thanked the environmental protection group for their efforts that have led to real action. “Development of new housing can proceed, on non-sensitive vacant land that has long-since been affected by previous farming or other activities. There is still a ‘vocal minority’ that fears an influx of new traffic on our roads, but we can assure you that plans are underway to upgrade our roads and there is a focus on the east end of town. We also have an orientation of council to renew the town core.”

Reorientation of the town core

A consultation program will be launched to bring together engineers and citizens to examine options with the goal of re-orienting the town core to better serve the people and businesses of Hudson. The committee will develop a plan to organize development and roadworks in the core, and focus on beautification as well as placing emphasis on active transit – meaning making the core friendlier to bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

When asked in question period by resident Eva McCartney what the cost of that study would be and who the stakeholders were, Mayor Nicholls responded that, “All citizens will be invited to participate, and a committee established as a regular planning body.” An official notice is to follow for citizens to put their names forward, and a meeting is slated for 7 p.m. on October 20 at Halcro Cottage, 539 Main Road, for residents to meet and elect three citizen members to the committee.

As for the cost, the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) has pledged $100,000 to finance the planning stage. Council voted to award a contract for professional services to develop a vision for the zone in the amount of $82,000.

Request to remove TOD designation

At the end of the meeting under new business, Councillor Duff put forward and saw carried a motion to mandate a consultation between the town and the CMM to request removal of the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) designation for the town of Hudson. The goal is to eliminate the designation and allow the town to pursue its development plan without the constraint of focusing on building around an existing train service is that is underused, and not guaranteed after the completion of the REM line.

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