Nature and resources discussed in Saint-Lazare
THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/JOHN JANTAK
Resident Richard Masys’ Saint-Lazare property was once again subject to the perils of the many surrounding trees (shown above in November 2016) and again recently in the exceptional November 1 windstorm that left over a million Quebecers without electricity.
Mayor Robert Grimaudo opened this week’s monthly session of the Saint-Lazare town council by remarking that winter had made a strong early appearance and thanking the sizeable crowd of citizens for braving the elements to take part. For those who came, question period was largely dominated by inquiries reflecting either a frustration with, or desire to protect, the numerous trees in the area, as well as budgetary and infrastructure issues.
To tree or not to tree
Two residents stood up to air issues relating to local trees – Richard Masys and Richard Meades who both lost power for protracted periods during the recent storm. Masys speculated that the long delay was a result of Hydro Quebec workers not wanting to enter the area because of all the trees, but Mayor Grimaudo rebutted, “It’s not true they won’t come and, in fact, I was impressed by their efforts.” Grimaudo emphasized that the situation was exceptional because a million homes in the province were without power simultaneously and the crews who were present had a lot of lines to cover.
Meades questioned if the town had the authority to compel a homeowner with trees at risk of falling to cut them before they damage someone else’s property, as he witnessed in the last storm, but the mayor said they do not. “You can ask this person to communicate with the town, and we can send people who will advise them on which trees should be cut, but we cannot force them.”
Wetland protection in question
Residents Isabelle Gorce and Patricia Novas both brought up the issue of the 10-metre corridor disallowing construction or other alterations surrounding identified wetlands. Of particular concern is the protection of natural wetlands from development in the area between Côte Saint-Charles and du Fief. The current provincial position on wetland protection is to put a 30-metre boundary in place as was recently adopted in neighbouring Hudson. Said councillor Geneviève Lachance, “We are looking at the 10-metre limit and determining if it’s something we need to change.”
Former Saint-Lazare councillor Denis Briard brought to council a list of questions related to spending, both local and as a shared portion of municipal funds given to the Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS). Some budget lines he questioned, such as why the town of Saint-Lazare contributed roughly $110,000 to the MRC for property evaluations while Vaudreuil-Dorion paid nothing, were quickly clarified.
“Vaudreuil-Dorion has its own team of evaluators, in Saint-Lazare we do not,” said Grimaudo. Like many municipalities, Saint-Lazare relies on evaluators from the MRC to do assessment work, and according to Mayor Grimaudo, pays their share only in years when evaluations are done.
Other approved allocations from 2019 Briard called into question, such as $169,500 for developing the collection at the library, or payments to the MRC in amounts in the area of $47,000 for ‘culture,’ and $271,000 for ‘amenegement’ (urban development) got less decisive answers. Mayor Grimaudo did not have ready specifics to share, but promised to get back to him with details.
Region thirsty for local water
Novas reminded council they had committed to meeting the MRC to request a hydrological study and investigate the viability of underground water sources, given the fact that much of the region is fed by the aquafer in Saint-Lazare, and that does not include the demand to come from the new hospital when it arrives.
“We are having a joint meeting in December, and the MRC and Conseil du bassin versant de la région de Vaudreuil-Soulanges (COBAVER) are both invited. We are requesting a water table study, and we will look at getting money from the other municipalities to pay for it. It’s a shared resource” said Grimaudo. “With 18 out of 23 towns in the region using it, the water is an issue we are taking very seriously.”