• Nick Zacharias

Hudson plans for the summer heat


Hudson town council has given final approval to make a zoning change which would allow the Hudson/Oka Ferry operator to expand the number of holding lanes at the Hudson entrance, in hopes of alleviating the frequent disruption of traffic caused by vehicle backlogs spilling onto adjacent roads.

The June meeting of the Hudson town council saw members get together via remote camera to move forward on allowing increased parking at the Hudson/Oka Ferry for summer traffic and permitting recreational use of sprinklers for kids to cool off – a heat relief measure for residents who have lost access to swimming at Sandy Beach. The beach is to remain closed for now but council is considering opening the community pool with new provincial approval.

Solution for long-standing ferry issue

Council has given final approval to the creation of a new zone at the site of the Hudson/Oka Ferry which will mean finally recognizing in law the acquired right of a ferry operation that has been in place for over 100 years, and allowing the property owner the right to construct additional lane space to reduce the overflow of vehicle traffic onto Main Road and Belleview while motorists wait for ferries.

“Before this they couldn’t expand, but now the owner will be able to build lanes to allow more traffic,” said Councillor Helen Kurgansky, in charge of District 1, which includes the section that has long suffered from ferry traffic clogging roads at peak times. Notice was given for this change back in February and it has now had final approval. Kurgansky said there wasn’t a single resident objection brought to council over the proposed change so it would seem that residents are, so to speak, on board. She confirmed that ferry owner Claude Desjardins is willing to add a lane, so traffic relief should be in sight.

Relief from the heat?

Hudson council took swift action to shut down public access to swimming at Sandy Beach following a brief opening over the May long weekend and a wave of local complaints after the area was overwhelmed by visitors. The crowds of people, who reportedly numbered in the hundreds and were mostly from outside the region, caused council to reconsider the opening and hastily close it back down with concerns over respect for social distancing, as well as garbage and basic sanitation. For now, the beach and the surrounding trails remain open for pedestrians to walk through, but no loitering on site is allowed.

Asked if the town would consider negotiating ownership of the beach (rather than the current agreement of a servitude for access between the town and the land’s private owner), Mayor Jamie Nicholls said that council would discuss the idea. It has been suggested that this would allow the town to better restrict access to local residents only, though Councillor Kurgansky said later this would be complicated to achieve, since it would require the creation of a citizen’s card similar to those in other municipalities and the installation of a kiosk with staff to monitor entry. “There’s a lot to consider,” she said.

Let them have sprinklers

In the meantime, with a new well connected to the municipal water system, council has moved to loosen restrictions on the recreational use of household water. While underscoring that activities such as washing driveways are still not allowed, council tabled a draft to allow the use of lawn sprinklers for children to run through on hot days.

Said District 5 Councillor Jim Duff with a chuckle, “We don’t want people watering their lawns, but we don’t mind them watering their kids.”

For the wider public, according to Kurgansky, council is taking a look at reversing the decision to close the community pool this summer. Word came down on May 30 from the province giving municipalities the green light to open outdoor public pools with proper precautions in place, and council is examining how (or if) they could achieve this safely.