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Hudson hones environmental rules

By Nick Zacharias


Hudson town council committed over $80,000 to pay for a plan to restore Pine Lake – a plan that has been promised since the dam broke, draining the lake seven years ago.

The March 1 virtual meeting of the Hudson town council saw members turn their attention to matters of environmental protection. Specifically, there was some movement on the long-awaited Pine Lake restoration file, and approvals for motions and draft by-Laws for tree and woodland protection as well as increased pesticide controls. Said Mayor Jamie Nicholls, “The orientation of council isn’t only to preserve our existing natural heritage, but add to it and provide citizens the tools that they need to protect the natural environment around them.”

Plans for Pine Lake

Ever since the dam that held back Vivery Creek to create Pine Lake failed in 2014, there has been talk of restoration – but so far the dam has remained broken. Following studies of the area, and an arrangement with the town of Saint-Lazare to provide $100,000 in funding, council was finally able to award a contract to develop a plan to replace the dam and create a wetland that will serve as fish habitat. “This is the item that many people have been waiting for,” said Nicholls.

The contract for the creation of a plan went to Stantec, the sole bidder out of three who were invited, and the cost for the plan will be just under $83,000 before taxes. Nicholls said they will be consulting with residents who live adjacent to the area as the plan is developed.

Speaking for the trees

On the woodland front, council adopted the first draft of a by-Law amendment to add some new protections for trees. Included in the amendment is a rule banning the cutting of trees during the critical season for migratory birds, and the laying down of rules for the ratio of trees that need to be conserved on given lots on a sliding scale based on lot size. According to Councillor Jim Duff, the purpose is to bring the by-Laws into line with recommendations in the comprehensive Eco2urb report.

Other draft modifications tabled were to change the requirements for tree cutting authorization certificates, and to create tariffs for cutting permits as a deposit against the replacement of cut trees as required.

Pesticide control refocused

Thirty years after Hudson’s landmark pesticide control by-Law was passed (following a fight that went all the way to the Supreme Court, noted Nicholls) council tabled a draft to add increased restrictions on pesticide use. Included in the draft are regulations encouraging the use of low impact materials like vinegar or borax to control weeds, and for golf courses (that haven’t already) to come up to meet Audubon International standards for eco-friendly stewardship. Nicholls said there is also a requirement for farmers to submit a detailed annual report of all materials they have applied to the soil.

Resident Adrian Burke spoke up in the live question period to say he was looking forward to reading the new by-Law, since pesticides have a five to 10-year impact on streams and soil (and our bodies). To establish a baseline for comparison, he wondered, “When are we going to see the report that we paid for… to analyze the (pesticide) data that was supposed to be submitted by the golf courses and the farmers in Hudson following our existing by-Law?” Nicholls responded, “I would encourage you to go the town hall or phone town hall to make a request for this, and we’ll see.”

When Burke came back on the line to clarify that he felt the report should be made public on the town’s website for all to see, Nicholls said they would not likely be doing that because the privacy of individual parties has to be respected, and because “…the average citizen doesn’t exactly know what a lot of these chemicals are.” That is why, he said, the town is planning to conduct future webinars around environmental topics to make sure the public understands.