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Saint-Lazare’s new Director General ready to face challenges

By John Jantak



PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Hervé Rivet, the new Director General for the Town of Saint-Lazare, spoke about his new role and responsibilities during an interview at his city hall office on July 13.


Hervé Rivet, the new Director General for Saint-Lazare, took time from his busy schedule for a sit-down interview at his City Hall office with The Journal on July 13 to talk about the experience he brings into his new role and some of the challenges the municipality faces regarding future growth while maintaining town’s rural cachet and protecting its green spaces.

“I’m very happy to be here,” he said. “There are some nice challenges. It’s a beautiful city with potential that is absolutely without boundaries. I think it’s a prototype of what a Quebec or Canadian city should be like – a mix of residential and commercial with a high priority towards the environment.”

Prior experience

Rivet has a combined total of over five years of experience in the role having served as Director General for Brownsburg-Chatham for almost three years and at Rivière-Rouge for just over two years. He’s also worked as a consultant for different private companies and organizations and has federal government experience.

“Basically my style is based on two schools of thought – a result-oriented approach and lean management. I think it’s an optimal approach. It’s a combination of what’s good in the private and public sectors and putting them together,” Rivet told The Journal.

Île-aux-Tourtes Bridge closure

Rivet’s mettle was put to the test just days after he took on the role of Director General with the shutdown of the Île-aux-Tourtes Bridge on May 20. “It was quite special. We had communication issues and we had to work with the provincial Ministry of Transport and Exo making sure things worked out and so that our citizens wouldn’t be isolated and they could have access to the Island of Montreal,” said Rivet.

“One of the good things was that it introduced me faster to our neighbouring cities so we could put out a common message. It would have normally taken me three to four months to speak to them. Overall, it went well because our representations towards different organizations were taken into account. At least we were heard and some action was taken and the impact on our citizens was reduced,” he added.

A municipality that’s moving forward

Now that the dust has settled regarding the Île-aux-Tourtes Bridge, Rivet has been settling into his new role and is learning about the different challenges facing the municipality. “The learning curve is quite steep. I don’t have a lot of time to sit back and relax. It’s quite a challenge, it’s a lot of fun with a good team of good-hearted people,” he said.

“When the opportunity came I decided to try it and see what happens. It’s a small town with over 20,000 people. It’s a municipality where there’s equilibrium between commercial and residential. It’s an area that’s moving forward. It’s not stagnating,” Rivet added.

“There’s a good potential for high-density urban development. For the last 10 years the provincial government has been pushing this because it has a direct impact on the cost of infrastructure. They don’t want people to spread out because the more you spread out the higher the cost,” he said.

Rivet is also impressed with the social fabric of the city and the diverse population of Francophone, Anglophone and Allophone residents that gives Saint-Lazare its distinctive character. “This is a good representation of what Quebec and Canada is. This was very attractive for me. It’s not an urban area. You don’t feel crowded. There’s a spirit of freedom here that you don’t find in other small cities,” he said.

Potable water challenge

“You have to understand the challenges and constraints on all infrastructures with water being a major one. It’s the number on challenge facing just about every city. The idea is to balance things out by making sure you progress at a rhythm that allows you to keep pace. We have some solutions for dealing with the water issue by adding three more wells,” said Rivet.

“The main issue is how we can make sure we don’t fall within the patterns of the past few years,” he added. “It’s not an easy answer because there are some situations over which we have no power, like droughts.”