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Paola Hawa seeks third term as Mayor of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue

By John Jantak


Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa said attracting new emerging technology companies, preserving the village core from multi-unit condo development and getting equitable services from Montreal as part of the agglomeration are some of the issues she will tackle as she announced she will run for re-election for a third time as mayor of the West Island municipality.

Bringing in new emerging technology companies, the preservation of the village core, and contesting the amount of money Saint-Anne-de-Bellevue pays to the City of Montreal for being a part of the agglomeration are just three of several issues that Mayor Paola Hawa is ready to tackle as she recently announced she will be running for re-election for a third term as mayor.

“In the first mandate I think I did exactly what I set out to do which was to protect and preserve our green spaces with the creation of the L’Anse-à-l’Orme (nature park). The second mandate focused on the creation of the seniors’ village next to Ste. Anne’s Hospital and that’s done. I’m making sure that our finances are stable now with the imminent sale and development of those lands. We’re where we want to be,” Hawa told The Journal.

Attracting high-tech companies

The eventual completion of the REM light rail transit commuter train in the north of the city means that now is the perfect time to seek and attract emerging technology companies to set up their operations on the remaining undeveloped industrial land close to the REM terminus, said Hawa.

“We now have a solid foundation and it’s time to think about economic development especially with the arrival of the REM. Now it’s a question of how do we develop the land and how do we ensure the way we develop it will result in a long term gain for the city,” she said.

‘A little city with big ambitions’

“Like I’ve said, we’re a little city with big ambitions. I want us to lead. I want us to be the first municipality on the Island of Montreal to say if you want new technologies and a green economy, you start in Ste. Anne’s. This is your home. I like to position us as a little city that has a little bit of everything,” said Hawa.

“I don’t want a development like a distribution centre there that brings us quick bucks now with a diminishing curve over the long term. I want to ensure that whatever we build there today is something that will still bring us a decent return in the next 20 years from now,” Hawa added.

No condo development in the village

As vacant land for residential development continues to dwindle, there’s speculation whether the city will eventually allow for the construction of multi-unit condo projects within the village and downtown core, an area that draws thousands of tourists to the city each year. Hawa said she’s opposed to the prospect.

“If you do that you lose the village. If you open up that window just a little bit, especially if you do that in the village core, you are going to have speculators breaking down your door trying to demolish what we have in terms of character by putting up condo towers and for what?” said Hawa.

“We draw tourists because we’re a unique little village. If we were to develop our downtown and become another Griffintown like in Montreal, then why would people come here? It would be like developing Old Montreal. It would hurt our businesses.”

Fighting agglomeration costs

Mayor Hawa added she will continue her efforts to get the City of Montreal to provide the required level of service for the amount of money Ste. Anne’s contributes annually as being one of the demerged cities that is a part of the island-wide agglomeration.

“We’re going to keep fighting because that is a system that goes against every principle of democracy. It’s taxation without representation. It’s Montreal who turns around to us and says ‘give us 60 per cent of your revenue.’ But when we say we want services equivalent to the amount of money we’re paying, they say no. The discussion ends there,” said Hawa.

It’s not fair that people in the demerged cities pay 62 per cent more for the same service, if not for lesser service. We certainly don’t have the same level of transit service as they do in Lachine or downtown Montreal. Why are we paying 62 per cent more for water? Why am I paying 62 per cent more to have one police station that covers five different cities?” Hawa added.

“It’s ‘here’s the bill, you pay and shut up.’ We’re tired of it.”