• Nick Zacharias

Hudson population boom


PHOTO BY NICK ZACHARIAS

Development plans as they now stand would put high density housing within 32 metres of Hudson’s Sandy Beach, shown roughly in the perspective of this photo.

Hudson town council green lighted a new subdivision at Sandy Beach in a recorded council meeting Monday, July 6 that, along with other developments, will see the town grow by over 20 per cent. Though they voted to reject current plans for house designs based on a lack of architectural diversity, they voted by a four to one majority to approve plans to subdivide the Sandy Beach area, which they are now referring to as ‘Pine Beach,’ into lots for 256 new homes. Between the in-progress Como Bog building project, the 114-door Willowbrook project and the Sandy Beach subdivision there are plans on the table for a total of 383 new residences in Hudson in the near future – at the Quebec average of 2.8 people per family, that would represent a population growth of 1,072 new residents in Hudson, a boom of 21 per cent over the current population of around 5,000.

Lone dissenter

District 1 (Como) Councillor Helen Kurgansky asked that the vote be recorded, so each councillor’s vote for or against would be put on file. Hers was the sole vote against. Her objection was based on the fact that the plan involves running sewage infrastructure through the Special Planning Zone (usually referred to by the French acronym ZIS, (Zone d'intervention spéciale). The ZIS covers the flood zone where construction of buildings has been prohibited.

In his preamble to the vote, Mayor Jamie Nicholls set the condition that the town be granted a perpetual right of way on planned and existing pedestrian paths, and had a ‘recommendation’ for the underground infrastructure – “Council requests the developer to amend the plan so this infrastructure stays out of the ZIS and the floodplain.”

Kurgansky said later her objection was that, “…a recommendation is not an obligation” meaning there was nothing to compel the builder not to install sewer pipes under the flood zone as planned. “Once they’re built they’ll be turned over to the town,” said Kurgansky, who foresees the town inheriting a major problem if there are complications from future floods.

Environmental report won’t change things

The much talked about Eco2Urb report was tabled at the meeting though it has not yet been made public on the town’s website. The report is described as highly detailed and council has said they will be able to use it in future planning to protect green spaces. But they were also quick to line up the position that it will not have any bearing on current plans for large scale new developments. Said Nicholls, “The existing policy framework will remain in place, and decisions that have been made on major development projects will be honoured.” He also added that responsibility for conservation is shared by all residents, and said, “…it’s not the burden of the municipal government alone to protect important landscapes.”

High density coming

According to District 2 Councillor Austin Rikley-Krindle, the subdivision in the heart of town will include several multi-level high density condominiums, as well as many tri-plexes and six-plexes of townhouses. Mayor Nicholls said after the meeting that the density will allow the town to preserve agricultural land and sensitive areas and that it falls in line with rules issued by the communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) that the previous council entered a concordance with. The CMM, which granted $100,000 to the town for planning a revision of the downtown core, mandates higher density development.

The new developments appear dedicated to working towards that density. Asked what ultimate goal the CMM body has set for Hudson’s population density, Nicholls couldn’t provide an exact number but said “Not over 10,000 people for sure, and I can safely say probably not over 7,500.” If nothing shifts before actual building permits are issued, current plans will put the town about a thousand people closer to that target.

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