Hudson back aboard TOD
THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO
Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zoning dictates development be adjacent to transit hubs but some Hudson residents argue it’s unrealistic for the town given the train’s relatively low ridership.
In a reversal of the decision approved at the September town council meeting, Hudson is no longer going to approach the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) to request the removal of the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) mandate which has been placed upon the town. The TOD dictates that 40 per cent of new housing development be centered around a 1km radius of a transit hub, in Hudson’s case meaning the train station in the centre of town.
Because the motion to request removal of the TOD mandate was brought to council last month as ‘new business’ without the regular 72-hours’ notice, Mayor Jamie Nicholls said he felt councillors did not have adequate time to study and appreciate the ramifications of their votes. As a result, he made use of a veto for the first time in his term, and brought the motion back to council for another vote.
Resident Marcus Owen stood up at the first question period and contested the wisdom of revisiting the issue, which was to be first on the evening’s agenda.
“I’d like to question this, before the vote happens and it’s too late, and ask why we would veto the decision. Why would council want to remain under the TOD when it doesn’t reflect our reality?” Several in the crowd voiced agreement at the notion that gearing development around an underused train station was not in the best interest of the town.
Pull-out would cost $100,000
“The town has received a $100,000 grant from the CMM to conduct a study and build a plan for the redevelopment of the core,” responded Mayor Nicholls. “Removal of the TOD is in conflict with the plan métropolitain d'aménagement et de développement (PMAD) that comes from the CMM. Basically we can’t pull out without sacrificing the $100,000.”
When Owen pressed the issue, Mayor Nicholls affirmed that the CMM has power over land development and that, “…the time to withdraw would have been back in 2011. Even if we somehow got through the CMM and managed to convince them to remove the TOD, in all likelihood the province would overrule it.” He later went on to say that while the PMAD/TOD regulations are binding, the parameters are in fact somewhat malleable, meaning that when it comes to completing the plan the town will not necessarily be bound to a specific density ratio if it does not make sense.
When the vote took place, councillors were split down the middle, with Nicholls using his tie-breaking vote to confirm that Hudson will not request the removal of the TOD designation, bringing a couple of calls of “shame” from the crowd.
Big cost savings on Hudson Patrol
In a far less contentious moment, council unanimously carried the motion to award a contract to private security company Groupe Sûreté to carry out the public security function currently provided by the Hudson Patrol. They were the lowest bidder out of three companies who came to the table, with a total annual cost attached of $97,000. This represents a massive savings over previous years, where public security costs came in at two to four times that amount and more.
Resident June Penney asked how the service could be provided at such a low cost, wondering how many hours of coverage the town could be getting for that amount, but Mayor Nicholls responded, “We looked into the hours extensively. They will be a little shorter in the winter, as we normally reduce hours for the patrol in winter, but overall on the year they will be pretty close to the same. We’ve looked at it carefully and we’re confident that they can provide the security coverage that we need.”
Councillor Jim Duff added, “This is the direction many other municipalities are taking, it’s the way to go.” The current patrol will be released when the new provider takes over in the near future.