Signs of frustration in Hudson
PHOTO BY NICK ZACHARIAS
A few Hudson residents recently took umbrage with the removal of several mature trees in preparation for a condominium project on Main Road, leaving a series of anonymous notes decrying the development and accusing councillors of impropriety.
By Nick Zacharias
A lot in the centre of downtown Hudson has been cleared to make room for a new condominium development and some citizens have reacted to the sight of the area newly stripped of trees with a plea for change in the town’s approach to development. A collection of handwritten signs grew up on the caution tape in front of the scene, calling into question the actions of the town council, one even going so far as to name individual councillors and another to use the word, ‘Kickback’ implying that financial improprieties had taken place in the approval process for the build.
“Look around Hudson does the word kickback come to mind?” said one sign, while another called for the resignation of Councillors Jim Duff and Daren Legault and a third asked, “…why does the town of Hudson allow you to do this?!!! Enough!” and was signed, “A very angry taxpayer.”
The signs have since been removed.
Difficult to have a conversation
The fact that whoever posted the signs did not attach their own names is a frustration for District 6 Councillor Daren Legault, who was called out personally. “It makes it difficult to have a conversation about it. I try to keep an open-door policy, I’m here to answer questions,” he said, adding that he wished the people responsible would come to him or to the town council directly to voice their concerns. “We have nothing to hide here.”
Legault went on to say, “The idea of kickbacks, I would never say that in my life about someone without proof … and unless they make it up, nobody is going to be able to come forward with proof like that.” He also said it was unfortunate to see the lack of respect for people like him who have stood up to take on the role of public office.
PHOTO BY NICK ZACHARIAS
One of the angry signs that was left near the lot on Main Road where condos are slated for development. All the handwritten signs have since been removed.
Changing the face of Hudson
The cleared lot will make way for a building containing 20 condominium units and one commercial unit on the ground floor. It is one of several similarly-sized condominium projects in various stages of completion or planning currently in the downtown core, and the visible signs of an impending growth spurt for the town are starting to draw more visceral reactions.
“It’s too late to do anything about the condos at Main and Cameron,” said Trevor Smith, a Hudson resident who posted pictures of the signs on social media that someone else later took down. “I think it’s a lost cause. I don’t agree with the way the protest was handled, but the real protest should be at Sandy Beach.” He went on to say that Sandy Beach and other large-scale projects like it will not only destroy natural habitat but also permanently change the face of the town, adding that in a matter of a couple of years, there will be a larger influx of people than the town has seen over decades, going back to the 1960s.
“As councillors we can’t impose our personal point of view on landowners,” said Legault. The town has by-laws and it also has requirements imposed upon it by regional bodies and the province. “When a land owner wants to develop, when the rules are written in black and white and all the boxes have been ticked, you can’t turn around and change your mind … far be it from us to move the goalpost on people.” To do so, as often has been sited by council, would be to risk not only losing funding and co-operation from the region and the province, but to also risk facing lawsuits from developers.
Legault did say that for future developments, if the majority of the people of the town were willing to take on the fight to protect undeveloped spaces (while knowing the consequences) he is ready to listen. “People have to come and ask the questions,” he said.
For the part of Smith, the time to ask the questions has come. He doesn’t agree with the pressure to densify Hudson in the same way as communities closer to Montreal, or the logic that the density should be tied to the existence of a one-in-one-out a day train.
“The town is already strained on the weekends with the infrastructure we have, and if we add a thousand more people, everyday will look like that. It won’t be Hudson anymore,” he said, and wondered aloud, “Do we determine our future, or does someone else?”