Best show in town

The best gauge of how Hudson’s taxpayers feel about their current administration is the attendance at monthly council meetings. Monday’s February session attracted another full house, eager to catch the latest episode in the embattled burg’s ongoing political-reality show, now in its fourth season.

Both question periods heard residents clamouring for answers on contentious files, including:

– Employee X’s suspension. Director-general Jean-Pierre Roy hinted at an indefinite suspension in response to a question from Eva McCartney. (Everybody in Hudson knows they’re talking about about Parks and Recreation director Julia Schroeder’s 15-day suspension for questioning the planning for the Radio-Canada Petite Séduction shoot, but God help anyone who says so in public.)
The exchange began with McCartney asking the mayor whether the sanction had been lifted.
“The inquest still going on,” said Prévost, an unfortunate choice of words as he tossed the hissing bomb to Roy.
“It is a confidential matter concerning an employee,” Roy began. “Technically the suspension was to have finished on the 26th of this month, but for some technical reason it continues but I cannot tell you more, this is confidential.”
McCartney persisted. “Until when is the suspension continuing?”
“ Indefinite, but don’t write…” (audible reaction from the crowd.) Roy struggled to contain his temper. “I’m trying to give you some information in your language…if I do not say it correctly I will tell you correctly. This is a confidential matter…he is not suspended indefinitely…for a technical reason, because we did not receive some testimony we needed to continue. That is all I will say this evening, because it’s not respectful for the employee to talk about his case when it’s not settled.”
“Do you foresee when the suspension will continue until?”
“This is confidential for the moment.”

The strange exchange highlights this administration’s increasingly costly failure to suppress dissent, both internally and from without. This month’s list of cheques issued by the town included one of more than $20,000 to legalists Dunton Rainville to cover eight invoices. That prompted Helen Kurgansky to note this administration has blown $120,000 on legal advice over the last three months.
“The last thing I want to do is fill the pockets of the legal community,” Prévost told her.

We don’t know which budget envelope the legal fees will come from, but we will later this month. There is reason to believe this administration has juggled its 2016 budget figures to create a $600,000 contingency fund. If so, it will emerge when the town has to forward its final version to the municipal affairs ministry at the end of February.

This administration never passes on an opportunity to blame its predecessors in whatever way it can. The culture and tourism director got a Jan. 11 email from the Lester B. Pearson School Board together with a March 2012 letter of intent “signed by the former recreation director and the former director-general” committing the town to cover a third of the $75,000 cost of new playground equipment at Mount Pleasant Elementary. Council resolved to find the $25,000 but the inference was that the exes had acted inappropriately in binding the town to a deal the council of that period had never approved. (I’m told by people close to the file that those smeared by the administration have the documents to disprove council’s accusations.)

UPDATE: Former interim mayor Diane Piacente confirms the issue was discussed. (See her comment.)

Council’s critics note the absence of cost-cutting zeal when it comes to funding publicity-generating events. Hudson will pay $6,000 toward the $18,500 cost of the Land Art project to deface Hudson’s greenspaces, $7,500 plus insurance and security for the annual St. Paddy’s alcohol festival, 10 grand for the Hudson Music Festival (but no insurance) and $15,000 for the Hudson Village Theatre.

The subsidized seniors housing block being proposed for Wyman Memorial’s parking lot is another financial albatross in the making. We’re told (by the councillor for the area (who also manages the Manoir Cavagnal) that Hudson taxpayers won’t have to subsidize it much because they’ll be reimbursed by the Société d’habitation du Québec and the MRC. How much is much? People who know these things tell me 24 to 32 units are not financially sustainable, especially when rents starting at less than $600 must cover the cost of employees to care for, cook and clean the residents. They wonder where churchgoers and employees of this new facility will park once Wyman’s parking lot is gone. They wonder why the town is considering rezoning for this facility when the town has R-55, a 12-acre site already zoned for a continuing care seniors campus.

Mayor Prévost noted with gloom he was mulling dropping Saturday morning meetings, “…an underwhelming success…there have been four, five, six at the most.” The aim was to open an informal back channel by giving residents the opportunity for one-on-ones with the mayor and councillors. “Instead, people prefer to come up to the mic at council meetings and ask questions. Have to deal with that…try to come up with a better way of communicating with you and your concerns.”
There was no clear explanation of why the town was budgeting up to $35,000 to prepare for a March 17th or 24th continuation of this administration’s interminable strategic planning process.
“Sometime in March, we will provide you with shortened version of strategic plan which will become known as the mission statement where you will be asked again to comment, suggest or otherwise your agreement or disagreement. That will be mailed out.” To what end? Governments are elected to lead, not to follow.

If it’s not someone else’s fault, obfuscate.“Several residents are upset with amount of tax increases, and rightly so,” the mayor said in his customary opening monologue. “Most are because of the impact of property values, generally five per cent…however in light of some of the substantial increases, we’re meeting with the evaluators Wednesday (today) so we can understand the basics of their work that we expect to share with you shortly thereafter. We have no control over municipal evaluation procedures. We tendered under the banner of the MRC. I ask you to be patient, wait to hear from us.”

Later, an impatient Jim McDermott asked the mayor what line item on the 2016 budget was affected by the new property evaluations.
“We have a budget we’re not about to start playing around with,” Prévost countered.
Under McDermott’s prodding the mayor admitted the valuation roll was filed Nov. 1, six weeks before the adoption of the 2016 budget.
“So why didn’t you make adjustment before tabling the budget?”

What DOESN’T the town spend money on? On Monday, council approved a bid from collection agency ARO to collect $87,229 in back business taxes for 2014 and 2015. It will cost the town a quarter of whatever ARO succeeds in collecting. In neighbouring Rigaud, mayor Hans Gruenwald, when he finds himself with a few spare minutes, gets on the phone with the town’s tax deadbeats and warns them to pay up because he’s got bills to pay.

Just sayin’ but isn’t that the way to run a town?

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74 thoughts on “Best show in town

  1. “I have to consult our lawyers to see exactly what we can sue for , but we have grounds to sue” the Mayor said. “We can sue on any grounds.” A citizen questioner at Monday night’s council meeting asked about the Mayor’s famous quote of Nov./2015. He didn’t ask in a very civilized manner and had most of the citizenry shaking their heads in disapproval at his approach. I thought : What a great time for the Mayor to just admit he’d misspoke in the heat of the moment and that it had been an inappropriate comment considering our mounting legal bills. Also he might have added that the redaction of specific citizen names in the list of payments to Town lawyers , Dunton Rainville , was correct and names of citizens who were being investigated and named publicly in a Town initiated witch hunt should have never been made public and maybe the whole thing had been a mistake by an overly sensitive administration. Alas it was not to be and the Mayor lost the chance to maybe get his administration some public support.

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    1. The redaction of names on the monthly list of cheques was defended by DG Roy on the basis of Quebec’s AI laws. When does the taxpayer’s right to know trump an administration’s duty to maintain confidentiality? Never. Unless one of the parties chooses to break silence, we don’t know. It’s an excellent way for a secrecy-obsessed administration to evade public scrutiny.

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  2. As much as I didn’t like the looks of our new DG’s hair trigger temper the other night , I do believe he was right in keeping Julia’s name and the details of her case very silent. The council was in error in bringing a strictly administrative matter to the council meeting and they’ve been back peddling since over public curiosity. If one side ( right again , Jim) decides to go public then indeed the kid gloves come off and the lawyers beat a path to your door unless everybody can step back and let cooler heads prevail.

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  3. I have no issue with Hudson supporting the Hudson Village Theater, I think it adds immense value to our community throughout the year, brings lots of outsiders in for a quality experience and the support we can spare is money well spent.

    The music festival is a once a year quality event, I don’t know what formula is used to evaluate our support of it at 66% of what we donate to the Village Theater.

    I can’t say I feel the same about either the Landscape art project which I found not terribly offensive but perhaps not worthy of support.

    The St. Patrick’s Parade packs the town, for a day. I’d bet it inconveniences most retailers and it’s mostly over and done when the last of the parade has gone, except for some lingering drinking and partying at two local establishments. I’d say give them the town for the day, let them bring their own funding.

    In short, I doubt there are any clear guidelines on funding such requests, the town doesn’t appear to fund by evaluating the net benefit versus the cost.

    Sad that we’re having staffing issues and that they drag into council and consume valuable time and resources. Why does every criticism or conflict turn into a legal or administrative battle? Sure that’s not the sign of a well run ship on a level keel.

    And lastly, if I understand correctly we’re funding another $35K to simplify our long term strategic plan into something that will somehow become a mission statement. Seems the mission statement should have come first and/or been an early part of the strategic plan. At $35K, it surely must have to go out to tender because in simplistic terms $35K is in fact bigger than the $25K that triggered a cascade of lawsuits and lawyers bills last year?

    I know the Delorean is coming back into production this year in Texas, but it seems that Hudson has already mastered time travel, as it is always heading back to the same old future, stuck in a vortex of swirling conflict and inefficiency about to flush itself down the drain.

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    1. Like to pop in here on the subject of Land Art. While Hudson did mount an exhibition of works at Sandy Beach last summer, it had nothing to do with Land Art-certainly not by professional standards. The exhibition was a collection of installations using mixed materials, some natural, some found, even chains were included.
      An excellent example of Land Art is in Rigaud. It is the work of the iconic Canadian Conceptual land artist, Bill Vazan. Worth the trip. .
      Hudson temporarily had an excellent land art work by Brian Grubert. It was a moment in time when Brian Grubert was designing Jack Layton Park. During construction he created a berm which echoed the shape of the Pre Cambrian Shield off in the distance. At that point Grubert’s work intervened with the environment through a foreshortening of natural shapes, (shield to berm) creating new site- lines. That was Land Art. Land art is an intervention with the environment, using only natural materials.
      Peter, why did you not find the Sandy Beach project”…….worthy of support” ?

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      1. The Wyman Seniors project, if it is to be assisted living, is an interesting concept but probably too few units to be viable and while it would be in the village but would be on a too small compromised lot. The land in that corner of Hazelwood and Park tends to be wet, and the lot smallish for ingress-egress and I doubt underground parking is viable. If we back filled and re-graded Pine Lake, it could make a dandy stream side assisted living campus close to the village, but I’m just kidding of course.

        The MRC, specifically Vaudreuil-Dorion seems to have no problem attracting these assisted and transitional living projects without subsidy so I doubt there would be subsidies available.

        We do really need to find a solution for our older residents to transition in village, but a series of compromised solutions is probably not our best choice.

        On the subject of landscape art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and while I found it different and it may have way been above my simple minded technician’s artistic comprehension, my comments are basically more about the decision process for funding. Is it a single person decision or is there a committee or do we pick and choose favourites and habits, is there and annual limited budget or do we magically find for the causes we choose to like this year?

        We have, in many instances, relied massively on superbly effective unpaid volunteers, Elaine Steinberg comes to mind as one, and then we find money for various random and not so random causes like parades which make a lot of noise over a few events and perhaps one big day. I have no problem lending the town to a parade or good family event, I’d just like to better understand how we decide to fund or not to a given amount.

        I’d like to presume that there is a value based decision process somewhere in there that extends to long term benefit and a planned division of an annual budget. That would logically be under the Recreation department annual budget, something I’ve questioned many times in the past years when we actually had a local Hudson newspaper. Perhaps eventually the current inquisition will finish and we’ll once again have a director of recreation, but it seems clear that there perhaps wasn’t a clear line for them to follow or perhaps, as an employee, they didn’t follow it quietly enough which is indeed a cardinal sin of employment.

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      2. Have to agree w/Elaine about Land art. She is very kind about my Jack Layton work but the land art was interrupted by the damn park. I would have left it as such : rocks and earth but I would have had to leave town. People do want their pesky trees and benches. Some of the land art , I found interesting especially Daniel Gauthier’s ladder birch oeuvre. The fish snow shoes and the chains in the trees were beyond my appreciation.

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  4. In reply to Mr Ratcliffe. I would just say that the parade is a number of events that support a number of local businesses. Includes willow, the whitlock golf club and the legion. The actual day of the parade brings in approximately 8000 to 10000 people to town that certainly provide business to many of the restaurants shops and depaneur that is surely needed during a very quiet time for businesses. The exposure alone of being seen by so many people can only be a positive. I would ask if the hardware store benefits or if it is an inconvenience for them. My response would be where do people get the building supplies in the days and weeks leading up to the parade to build their floats.
    All this to say that I do believe thales event has a large impact on the local businesses.
    The positive news and Media coverage the parade has seen over the last few years cannot be quantified especially in a time when it seems the only reason Hudson is in the news is for negative and corrupt reasons.
    Worth noting that a major part of the funding requested from the town goes to pay for security in order to ensure a safe and successful parade for both participants and the public

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    1. February 3, 2016
      “Best Show In Town”
      Since I cannot attend council meetings this winter, I still like to know what was discussed. In Jim’s blog, he wades in on several issues that were on the agenda. I’d like to comment, if I may, on a few things. Regarding the monies being requested by the Lester B. Pearson School Board for new playground equipment, our council 2009-2013, elected to fund a third of the $75,000 being requested; the logic being that our neighbourhood kids used the playground equipment, the Parks & Rec. department used it for some of it’s summer program. Everything was done above board, and to imply that what we did was inappropriate is just wrong.

      As far as the Wyman Church wanting to be able to have a building for seniors built on this land, this issue was raised during my time on council (2009-2013). The church needs funds and the elders thought it a win-win situation as the building would house low-income seniors. In my view this is a great example of socially responsible development and I don’t object at all. It would have to be heavily subsidized by the CMHC. Not sure the MRC would throw in some money as it would create a precedent for the other 22 municipalities in Vaudreuil-Soulanges who might want to go that way too. As far as the parking issue, I don’t know why there would not be underground parking (high cost? high water table?) I can see that lack of parking for employees, churchgoers and visitors would be an issue. There are just so many people who could use that Selkirk parking, including the new business in the old pharmacy. The project would also have to have a zoning change would it not? and have the approval and blessing of the neighbours on Hazelwood? unless the church is zoned institutional and this building would also fall under that banner?

      The other topic discussed was the increase in some homeowners’ property taxes. Actually I’m surprised that this is because of new evaluations. Royal Lepage puts out yearly figures on residential sale prices in Hudson as well as the surrounding area. For several years now house prices have continually declined in Hudson while the surrounding towns increased. Now I haven’t checked figures for the last couple of years but it’s pretty evident to me that there are many many houses on the market in Hudson and that they are not selling. So…..why the increase? Ours went up a tad ($50). Maybe I should be jumping for joy but when I realize that our house has not increased in value in years, it’s a bit of a blow. Since a house is usually the most important investment in people’s financial assets, it’s very disconcerting to say the least. Thank goodness there are other benefits to living in Hudson!

      As far as the evaluation role being ready Nov. 1st, if that is so, council would have had plenty of time to reduce the mil rate if it saw that huge increases in evaluation were coming. I also remember that at one council meeting in the Fall, not sure which one, we were told by the mayor that they had approached the MRC because the town was going to use their evaluators. Then, a little while later, I’m sure Ron Goldenberg said that they nixed that idea and decided to use another evaluation firm, one that they chose. Odd.

      And lastly, as far as the town hiring a collection firm to go after unpaid business tax owed by delinquent taxpayers, FINALLY, it’s just not fair to all those who did pay their taxes. There’s always a cost to hiring collection agencies but hopefully this will send a message to whoever wants to drag their feet paying their residential property taxes.

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      1. Thanks, Diane, for having cleared up the smear job on former employees. As for the mini-res on the Wyman property, aren’t you mistaking it with the proposed Treehouse annex?

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      2. Hi Jim, No I know of no such proposed Treehouse annex. Maybe that’s something that came up during the last 2 years? I do remember something about the Wyman property though, there were definitely discussions during my time as councillor. I believe that church is where Michael and Dorris Elliott worship and he would have known of their intentions. Perhaps though it was to build a new daycare and not a seniors apt. complex? Whatever it was people living on Hazelwood were none too happy about it when they heard rumours. We really need transparency on all issues especially TPAC.

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      3. The chosen evaluator for the Town is an interesting topic. I did some research on my own tax bills back to 1988.
        1988-1994- Beaulne, Charles ,& Fournier – 9 St.Elzear – Laval
        1994-2002- Dubois,Fleury,Racicot – 9 St.Elzear – Laval
        -110 Boul. Cremazie – Montreal (moved)
        2002- 2016 Leroux,Beaudry,Picard -110 Boul.Cremazie – Montreal

        Hiring of evaluators must go through the tender process. The new evaluators for the MRC Vaudreuil soulanges – Leroux,Beaudry,Picard . Cost $4,500,000. They must know their stuff, they’ve been w/us in one name/address or another for 28 years and counting.

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    2. Mike Klaiman: My lack of support for the St. Patricks Parade is simply personal opinion as a village resident. I do agree we get a lot of more positive than our usual press coverage from it. Perhaps the parade would be better funded by the SDC which is supposed to be partially funded by the Town of Hudson.

      My real point is mainly that there seems to be a randomness and lack of cost versus benefit formula for council approval of funding for these types of items from a perpetually constrained budget.

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      1. Lets look on the bright side, at least we aren’t horsing around with a $300,000 event budget like our municipal neighbours. 🙂

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    3. Lets talk shop talk here Brian. Quote from your reply :” some of the land art I found interesting especially Daniel Gauthier’s ladder birch oeuvre”

      Like you I found Daniel Gauthier’s sculpture interesting. Gauthier made an in situ sculpture from natural materials in the park. It is not land art. There is no land art in the park. Are you confusing art made from natural materials as land art?

      At this point the reader is probably thinking: – Elaine, why are you be such a stickler over a little definition- who cares ?

      Answer: Public Funds, Public Art and Policy are chained together. Miss a link, the chain breaks. There is a cardinal rule: approval of criteria for a public art exhibition, or any public project for that matter, is by jury. Town council juried Jack Layton Park .

      To my knowledge Hudson does not have a policy on a Public Art Collection. Am I wrong?

      Kudos goes to Gauthier for making the event happen, considering the circumstances at the time.

      Gauthier did a gun-hoe job putting together art installations throughout the waterfront. He is real go- getter. I’d work on a team with Gauthier anytime.

      This reply should not be misconstrued as my hand-up to volunteer on an committee for art policy, it is not. Art Policy should reflect, but not necessarily be limited to, the many different voices of townsfolk and organizations who make art.

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      1. I meant to say alleged “land art”. I will admit I am in the initial stages of being able to differentiate land art from art comprised of natural materials. I am not trying to be snide , because I really believe it’s a fine line between the two.

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  5. Hi Peter. If the sdc ever got thier funding from the town that might be possible. But I believe they are still waiting.
    In terms of the procedures to request sponsorship of an event the town has an exhaustive request form on thier website that anyone requesting monies must fill out. I did so for the parade. How the information is used in terms of decision making well your guess is as good as mine.
    The randomness in decision making seems to be across the board not exclusive to subsidy programs.

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    1. As far as how requests for funding were handled while I sat on council, the decision on whether or not to give monies was based on whether or not the town gave them money in the past. Sometimes there was a request from a young athlete representing Hudson, sometimes the town was asked to purchase a couple of fundraiser tickets i.e. Palliative care gala and of course whether or not there was money in the budget.

      With this council, many artistic or artisan organizations got subsidies, especially last year. I would assume that it’s because the arts are at the forefront of council’s strategic plan to reach their goal of revitalizing the town. I presume that who gets what every year and how much is debated and decided on at caucus (the organizations with the best arguments probably get the nod). I’m sure that council would also hear input from the Culture & Tourism director and the DG before making their decision.

      My personal opinion is that subsidies are fine, within reason, as long as it can be shown that there are measurable results produced by the event. Does it benefit the residents? the shop owners? restaurants? etc. The St. Patrick’s Day parade is a big event which brings many visitors to our town and gives us great publicity. While many think it’s just a one day event, it’s not. It’s actually 3 or 4 events that are well publisized. If we dropped it I’m sure another town would jump on taking it over.

      As far as the SDC perhaps taking over the parade because it’s organization is subsidized by the town, as suggested by Peter Radcliffe, let me be perfectly clear. The mandate of the SDC is to promote our local businesses. We do this by promoting them 365 days a year, not just for one day. Some of the things we accomplished just last year – we set up an SDC website, a Facebook page to promote our members, quarterly newsletters, a Christmas merchants market, the Edward Jones Community Window, a town-wide garage sale, a presence at the Street Fair and other events, a new town map listing all businesses is presently in the works. It is a huge undertaking making sure no one is omitted or put in the wrong location . We also advise our businesses of upcoming town events in order to give them the opportunity to benefit from the extra traffic these events bring to town. This is where we need the cooperation of the town to let us know in a timely fashion what event will be happening. For those not familiar with our SDC, there are approximately 95 businesses in the SDC district who each pay a flat fee of $200 each yearly as per by-law 619. In 2014, because there were many staffing/administration issues at the town, 40+ businesses were never sent an invoice, (some, surprise! had not business permit) some did not pay up as there was no public acknowledgement from council confirming that the fees were mandatory and not optional, we ended up short of money. In 2015, to make sure the town had a proper list of businesses, I went door-to-door to update it myself. I still do not know to this date whether or not the town has collected, or sent out the invoices to all who should get one, as per the by-law. It is certainly not from a lack of asking. Needless to say, there was no subsidy as well. For this coming year, the SDC presented our proposed budget by the prescribed date (sept. 30) based on receiving a subsidy, as well as our Action Plan for 2016. The budget came and went and we are still waiting to hear if we are getting a subsidy. I was advised that it was coming. I guess the administration must be short-staffed or are busy on other priorities. We need that subsidy in order to hire a part-time coordinator to continue adding services to our members. The board has 9 volunteer members, most of which are trying to run their business as well as sit on the board. Brian Grubert talks about donor fatigue regarding donations well there is such a thing as volunteer fatigue also. We have proven that the SDC can accomplish it’s goal of promoting the local businesses. Without a paid person doing specific tasks (including the face-to-face greeting of ALL members) this organization might unfortunately go the way of former business organizations such as HABA, because lack of volunteers and lack of funding is a sure killer of an organization. I am very proud of what people who really care have accomplished with so little.

      So no, at this time, the SDC could not put on a parade at least not without having the paid staff to do it.

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  6. As Peter and yourself have indicated , Diane the success of every initiative has to be measureable. In the SDC”s case has it translated , verifiably, into increased sales for its members as a direct result of these initiatives?I am reluctant to support forced membership , government mandated organizations. There have to be some well-run Hudson businesses who resent this intrusion even at the $200.00 tag. To them it might seem an insult that the SDC /Town of Hudson forces them to shell out $200.00 for help they are told they need which they feel they don’t. All of us know that free market/capitalist economies have their winners and losers. SDC’s were never a cornerstone of this model.

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    1. Brian, it could have worked if not for the cronyism and infighting that Hudson has always been so good at. The SDC model works elsewhere, just as Chambers of Commerce and other NGOs work in many municipalities. We were at many of the working tables where the SDC charter was worked out, with valuable input from a good cross section of the town’s business community. What killed it were the bad decisions taken once it was up and running. Lots of meetings and blabla, but no getting shoulders behind a common wheel. A slew of captains and no oarspeople. No point in shooting the survivors but the guilty parties need only look in the mirror and ask themselves what was the difference between the old HABA and its successors. The only difference is that in and SDC, membership is compulsory for the businesses and owners of commercial properties located within a geographically delineated area.

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    2. Until this and future administrations stop seeing the commercial sector as a cow to be milked mercilessly with regulatory beatings and crappy infrastructure, Hudson’s core will continue to degrade. It will take a sustained, coordinated effort to reverse a decade of not-so-benign neglect. Begin by banning the shipping containers and the scrapped refrigerator vans being used for storage in violation of the town’s own zoning bylaws. The the town where we grew up is looking distinctly upstate-New-Yorkian.

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    3. You bring up a very valid point Brian as far as measurable results. I can tell you from personal experience that after a couple of events that the SDC was responsible for (town-wide garage sale, Christmas merchants market), the feedback that we received was very positive from the businesses who participated. Some said it resulted in one of their best sales days. The key word here is “participated”. Some Hudson businesses don’t read our emails or newsletters nor come to the general annual meeting but are the first to complain that the SDC does nothing for them. It’s a shame as when the town let’s us know of upcoming events we notify our members so that they have the opportunity to increase sales by taking advantage of the extra foot traffic.

      As far as getting verifiable figures it’s a little trickier. As owners of private businesses, these entrepreneurs are not usually willing to share their sales figures so it’s hard for us (and this goes for town-run events as well) to judge whether or not any marketing initiatives or events are having a positive influence on the commercial district or if it’s because the owners are running their business more efficiently.

      Since a lot of marketing is done today on social media, the SDC has a great tool in its Facebook page to constantly promote our local businesses. But….we can only post what we receive. It’s a constant struggle to get businesses to send us news of their products or services and I can understand as they are trying to run these businesses sometimes by themselves. This is why a dedicated paid part-time coordinator is the way to go. This to me is the greatest asset we can have as communication with our members is key to the SDC’s success. Some errors were made in the beginning but we have learned from them. Successful SDCs do not enjoy success in the beginning. The Little Italy SDC, I was told, is in its 6th year and is just starting to hum. Why is that? Well, you need a dedicated board, preferable made up of different sectors of the commercial district and if 6 retailers step up then that’s what you have; you also need support and cooperation from council and the administration, and this has been a real challenge for us but we are forging ahead anyway and you do need volunteers for different marketing initiatives. It cannot be the same board members who do all the work. Since the town has hired a director for culture and tourism, we have had to define who does what. Nicolas is responsible for promoting the town and we are responsible for promoting the businesses. The two really go hand in hand though to be successful.

      The next point I would like to make is in reference to businesses not liking having to be told what they need. Well, that’s very interesting because during Liz Corker’s administration, it was the merchants who actually came to council and begged for the town to help them revitalize the commercial district. That’s when the Archer report was commissioned. Among their key recommendations were that the businesses had to organize themselves into a business association which would be a precursor to the more formal group such as a Business Improvement Area group, better known in Quebec as Societé de Développement Commercial. These SDCs were created by the government to legally act as a funding tool to promote a DISTRICT and of course this means, all the businesses in it. The town cannot use taxpayers money to promote private businesses but can legally promote their commercial district. Susan Kennedy was hired, and did an excellent job of forming the business association. This association though ran into the same problems as all other volunteer associations did in the past, in that when it was suggested to do some shop local initiative, well, guess what, a lot of businesses didn’t want to chip in the money. Ads cost money, printing cost money, etc. This is why the SDC has a mandatory fee, it is funding tool. You also have to remember that this is an organization run by the members, for the members and is a collaboration with the town as a member of council sits on the board. The budget and action plan have to be approved by resolution. So, if businesses want the SDC to be run different, or do some different marketing initiatives, then it is up to them to step up and sit on the board or at least offer some suggestions on marketing initiatives.

      Regarding the assessment fee, it was decided, by the steering committee of the SDC at the time, to charge everyone a flat fee of $200. It was felt that most businesses could afford this. Remember that a one time 1/4 page ad in a newspaper would cost about that much so $200 was deemed very reasonable. The intent was that the town would match the fees. In a perfect world things would have worked well except that the town didn’t collect the fees properly so we had to money to accomplish what we started out to do. To be fair to council, this was probably due to all the upheaval and disfunction in the administration and I would hope that 2016 will be a turning point.

      I hope I have clarified a bit regarding the SDC’s and their function. I have sat down with many SDC directors and coordinators of other towns and they have all said the same thing – to be successful you need cooperation from the town, you need a good board, and businesses have to be willing to participate if they want to reap the rewards. Hudson has always been a tough sell but I’m confident every year will bring improvements benefitting all members.

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      1. Diane, Louise Craig here. As one who is forced to pay the annual $200 towards the SDC, I can tell you that it has been a complete and utter waste of money. The only benefit has been to those who were actually hired by the SDC/Town to carry out the mandate of promoting Hudson businesses. Let’s face it – most of the businesses forced to pay this tax will never benefit from this membership. They are consultants or distributors who just happen to have an office in Hudson. It’s been a few years since I’ve been involved with the SDC, but I believe the town of Hudson was also financing the SDC, was it not a 50-50 arrangement?

        The SDC was set up as an experiment to see if it could help those few businesses who complained of not having a viable business association. Since I was a member of the first working table to help set up the SDC, I remember clearly that we had discussed exiting from the SDC if it could not be self-financed by its member initiative. We also discussed doing an annual evaluation. The experiment has failed and it’s time for Hudson to pull the plug on the SDC as we had discussed during its developing phase while we were assessing its future pros and cons.

        Merchants had been presented with other alternatives. The CLD came to Hudson to see how it could help local businesses. Many of these same businesses, who were fighting to have an SDC, were refusing to deal with the CLD who were offering them their resources and help for free.

        We have some amazing business associations in the region, CCIVS (Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Vaudreuil-Soulanges) is an excellent example of a professionally run business association seeking to help its 370 plus members. They have hosted important regional conferences on the economy, the environment and sustainability of our region and are highly respected by various business leaders and governing bodies.

        CCIVS gives its members a great networking platform and the ability to find new opportunities. I was a member for many years and saw incredible business potential being presented by their hard-working staff.

        They offer member discounts from its members, group insurance without a minimum of employees, adverting mailings sent out with their own mailings, credit card discounts and so on. They are a voice for the entire region, and together with the other regional associations, promote our MRC. All this, for a $150 annual fee.

        Here is their mission statement: Être un réseau de gens d’affaires incontournable, reconnu et influent au sein de la MRC de Vaudreuil-Soulanges, milieu économiquement prospère et dynamique.

        The CCIVS has evolved since I stopped being a member; they are now enabling their members to find new suppliers, partners and business solutions through a network which notifies everyone whenever a new member fits their search criteria.

        As far as the SDC’s marketing, as someone who made her living in that profession for 34 years, I have been underwhelmed by the initiatives of those paid individuals mandated to promote Hudson. And given that most of the money collected to pay for the SDC is going to pay the salaries of the persons mandated, it leaves very little in the way of marketing funds.

        Hudson would be much better off allowing the marketplace to dictate its own future. Business owners are the best ones to promote their products and services. It’s time to pull the parachute that we, you and I Diane as well as the other members of the work table set out in order to get ourselves out of the SDC, before it becomes just another cash cow and another salary.

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      2. This is in reply to Louise Craig’s post re the SDC.
        Louise, I’m sure any of our board members would be happy to sit with you to discuss the wonderful work that our board has accomplished this past year. I believe your business closed about what, 18 months ago? so you are probably unaware of all our achievements. And regarding your statement that the SDC benefits only the person being paid, let me assure you that most of the work was done by volunteers, including myself with a ridiculous shoestring budget. And no, the town did not subsidize us in 2015, nor did they collect all fees owed to us according to By-law 619 in 2014, nor advised us who paid and who didn’t. We got the list of who paid for 2014 in March 2015 and not because we didn’t ask. In spite of all this, when you have 9 dedicated volunteers who give up their free time unselfishly to help promote the district and the other 92 businesses in it , well that says to me that it’s a worthwhile undertaking, it’s actually a gift to the town and businesses. I also do believe that the town should subsidize us as we need a reasonable budget. Progressive towns see the benefits i.e. the mayor of Montreal put in his budget a few million dollars to help existing SDCs and to fund others, Quebec City now has 7 SDCs where they had only 1 a couple of years ago. They are all subsidized and have paid staff.. This council subsidizes the Hudson Village Theatre, Greenwood, Le Nichoir, all great organizations by the way, and guess what, they all have a paid person to run them, its not all run by volunteers.
        There is such a thing as volunteer fatigue when it’s always the same people doing all the required work.
        I haven’t given up on Hudson as it’s our home and if I can help in any way including lobbying for the SDC I will.

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      3. Diane, wonderful to hear Hudson is able to find enough volunteers to keep it going, but that does not change the fact that the funding or membership should be by choice and not another tax. Give the businesses a break and remove as many taxes as possible and invite them by saying we want your business and not just your money. As far as what is being accomplished by the SDC, I’ll remind you that the Gazette spent time and money on a map which advertised all the businesses names and addresses. It took us a month to do, we found the sponsors, it cost the merchants nada, and we got nothing but grief from those complaining about where their names were placed on the list. Again, a professional, unbiased business association is what Hudson businesses need. It would give them the needed insight on what is really out there. Louise

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      4. Of course Louise, the SDC is primarily a funding tool and that is because without money you can’t accomplish very much. It would be interesting to see if there wasn’t an SDC how the businesses would come up with money for marketing initiatives and who would take on the work needed to accomplish the goals. If you remember in the past with HABBA it was always the same people doing all the work and eventually they said, well you can imagine what they said! As far as the town reducing taxes for businesses, this council did something commendable. They got rid of the business tax and instead opted for a non-residential property tax rate. That’s the way it’s done in most Quebec municipalities. If you check out the non-res. mil rate in other towns they are double, the residential tax rate or even more. Council figured the businesses needed help and charged them a 5-cent extra on the residential rate. So, to say the town is not helping the business, that’s not so and this was certainly a good start.
        The board is always open to new ideas on improving services to our members. You mentioned the Chamber of Commerce, we were actually going to look into becoming members, I think organizations can join too. Now we just have to scrape the bottom of the barrel and find that $150…. after paying for board member insurance fees, printing, banners and other promotional items, accounting, etc. and yes, I do remember the map you did and the grumbling from a few; it’s taking us a lot longer to do it (hey it takes time to go door-to-door and check which business is there as the town’s list was not reliable). plus you had a staff to help, we just have volunteers. This map will be enlarged and put up by the town at strategic locations so it has to be very accurate.

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      5. Diane. I congratulate you on your continued involvement with the businesses. However, let me get this, the SDC is paying board members insurance fees, accounting fees and so on? For shame, that was never the intention in the first place. Let’s also be honest about the business tax, it did not disappear as you say, it is now part of the commercial tax rate. Speaking of which, we have to pay a greater amount for water, garbage and sewer than residential even though we use a fraction . Take a look at all the empty buildings in the downtown core and remind me how the SDC makes a difference? More businesses are about to close. Hudson businesses would be far better off getting professional help from a regional non-partisan organization . I hear nothing but complaints from the local merchants about the waste of money, from the incredibly badly designed banners, totally illegible. The thousands upon thousands of dollars spent with the CBC for a tourism segment. From what I was told, so few businesses in Hudson wanted to participate in the programming that CBC had to extend their coverage to other municipalities to fill the episode. You say the SDC is self-sufficient, so I have to conclude that the new position of Tourism and Culture has been fully downloaded to all Hudson tax payers? Did we at least hire someone with a Hospitality background? Hudson’s tourist attractions remain the same and are seasonal, Finnegan’s market, the Hudson-Oka ferry and the Willow . Let the merchants hire local students to hand-out a goody bag with a little something from each merchants. That would mean no insurance for board-members or accounting fees and money left over for advertising. If you insist on keeping the SDC alive, I welcome you to rent my building in the village, pay the taxes and see how far the SDC will get you when you start your business. Louise

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  7. Well explained , Diane. I knew if I prodded you would step up . It is too bad the Council seems to be falling behind on so many files because you have me most of the way to believing in the SDC concept. Time and again I have asked the Mayor and Council about parklands , trails , small farm initiatives and have received one line responses which are condescending and defensive. Mind you this probably would be a good time to shoot the messenger as I probably have earned a bullet. I was hoping they could rise above the past but they’re firmly stuck there with it in reverse.

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  8. Brian, the small farm initiative is an interesting one. My brother-in-law lives in Ottawa and they have an organic sustainable not-for profit farming cooperative that he farmed a 1/4 acre of last year and will move up to I think a full acre this year. He supplied local restaurants and specialty grocers with his produce.

    The land is in an industrial section of Ottawa, the organization drained the land, basic machine prep and ensured available water and other infrastructure, plus basic training and support.

    Did he make any money? I doubt he made minimum wage, but he’s in better shape than I’ve ever seen him and very positive on the entire learning experience, and even stepping up to a larger plot next year. Also he and a bunch of other urban farmers wound up more talented and knowledgeable about sustainable local farming. He’s looking for a small (10 acre+) piece of land he can farm for retirement. In short, if we can’t find farmers to buy into Hudson, maybe we can locally grow some and then zne some vegetable farmettes.

    Hudson could surely find land to start something like this, we could start with probably <10 acres somewhere and you're maybe the guy who probably knows where that land might be found.

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  9. Hi Peter, I grew trees for about the same wage as your brother-in-law but never regretted one minute of it. You definitely need back-up income but , my , it’s a nice lifestyle. Unfortunately 10 acre pieces are hard to come by. I just sold a 10 acre family property : no outbuildings , just a house. The buyer wanted the property, the house was secondary. It’s zoned agricultural but still fetched $40000/arpent so you can see where we’re going here. The problem is our proximity to Montreal(any large metropolis) which drives values up. I know there’s a group in Hudson that have had a few mtgs. about land trusts and co-operatives but any of these which have been formed are farther out into rural areas. I’m interested that your bro-in-law did it in an industrial area. Short term holding pattern for land which will eventually be factories? I know run-down sections of near downtown Detroit are being razed and turned back to farmland. I think I’d want a bullet proof cab for my John Deere if was working that land.

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    1. Land trusts, co-ops, farmettes are all valuable agriculture initiatives. Since Hudson is at its early stage of mapping out a green belt isn’t it too soon to single out one choice ? How about a muti-generational farm kibbutz- eldercare Israeli style.

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  10. We’d need to think outside the box. We take green space from developers, perhaps turn some of that into community ecofarms. Or borrow some land that’s agricultural but not being farmed. Even some of our small orphaned patches of land (the one we recently acquired for taxes as an example.

    There was a segment on the show Sunday morning about a big developer in the US who anchors his big high end residential developments around smallish scale professionally run organic farms instead of golf courses. Residents love the quality of life and congregate at the farm’s market on weekends.

    He’s out of country right now, but I’ll try to get you more info on the not-for-profit that runs this program in Ottawa.

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    1. When there’s a will there’s a way. I would certainly back cluster housing on the Ellerbeck property including organic micro-farms, instead of the old traditional grid-style neighbourhoods . Of course, I would like to see planning for small parks as well and little green spaces where neighbours could stop and converse with their neighbours. Also some thinking about public transportation before all the lots are divided, after all the town would be creating not just housing but a neighbourhood as well. As far as land for small farmers, its’ unfortunate that the powerful lobby The Union des Producteurs Agricole won’t allow sectioning off large pieces of farmland into niche farms. Strange because on one hand they are pushing, along with the government, for locally grown food vs. imported citing the benefits to the consumer as well as to the environment. Maybe that’s their way of protecting farm land as they might assume that if they supported that initiative, the purchasers of these niche farms might, after their house and the road to it is built, go back to their regular salaried jobs and ask the town for a rezoning to residential if they couldn’t make a living at it. Some future councils might jump at the chance as residential mil rate is a lot higher than agriculture mil rate. Doesn’t Hudson already have farmers who farm on small portions of land? I believe Justin does just that on land he rents or is lent? are there many others in Hudson who do this or would like to?
      By the way, how is the town’s agricultural committee coming along? Weren’t they supposed to lobby the MRC through the Urbanism Department for changes to farm land?

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      1. When the new administration came into power the old TPAC agricultural committee : Dave Croydon, Susie Aird, and I had a meeting to show the Mayor and the new agri-committee chairman, Natalie Best about 6 yrs. worth of work and analysis on Hudson’s agricultural land showing : conservation zones , fields , pastures , possible road accesses ,and good areas for green space development all done up on extensive computer renderings w/ 10 and 20 acre small farms . They listened quietly , asked no questions, thanked us , and promptly forgot about us completely . The same happened when Dave and I met the Mayor and Council to show info on continuous trails and where it was headed . This wasn’t vague stuff. Dave and I had worked on it for 15 years at TPAC and had been there for Sandy Beach , Alstonvale, Hudson Valleys, Whitlock West deciding on 10% parkland dedications that would best suit a town wide trail network. 4of 6 Councillors didn’t even bother showing up. Again we were never contacted again. I do see however both the continuous trail network and small farm initiatives made it as pillars of their strategic plan last September. The agri- committee has met twice since November 2013 . Dave , Susie, and I were rejected long ago and the new committee has no relevant information. I am sorry to rant but these people will never get anywhere with any of this.
        Diane, you hit on the absolute crux of the matter in dividing up large farms to smaller and maybe Peter has some ideas on this. HOW DO YOU KEEP THEM FARMING ONCE THEY HAVE PURCHASED AND BUILT THEIR HOUSE.WILL THEY JUST TURN IT INTO SOME PRIVATE ESTATE AND THROW FARMING TO THE WIND?

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  11. Those are interesting ideas. I know Mr. Ellerbeck was going to give the Town about 90 acres of farmland in the agr.zone. Would have fit the bill. Cluster housing with greenspace and micro-farms as the connective tissue. Freddy Henshaw sought cluster housing zoning on his Como property for years. It jndeed does take some fresh eyes on the way we divide up land,

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    1. Glad to see you wading in on this (Feb 9) I have to agree whole heartedly on all except the last paragraph. There are ways of assuring continued farm use …. if it isn’t a productive farm your tax rate changes substantially.
      There are many other benefits to the town that were covered by our proposals (green space preservation, trails net work, controlled development, zoning, conservation land and many more) all of this is lost at this point … talk about volunteer burn-out.

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  12. i have been working with two ten acre organic farmers in senneville on my agricultural land. it took me ten years once i had MAPAQ on my side and more importantly the village of senneville to inch my way into their graces. Neighbours are very supportive but there are still town transplants who want agriculture with no smell or noise. i am optimistic that this is the way to create and preserve rural connections and community spaces. I look forward to moving soon to my new home in Hudson.

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  13. Brian Grubert, I’m astounded at the work you and others have put in without significant effect or even enough interest in what you know. Perhaps it’s your abrasive litigation magnet personality. Just kidding, it is the responsibility of any administration to be aware and to use the knowledge of the past. That said, TPAC, in my humble opinion, was used by too many administrations as a toll of mass deflection that allowed them to do the exactly nothing that some in Hudson wanted.

    One solution is to zone small areas of non-residential farming which are then leased to sustainable organic farmers in varying size plots and give priority to those living in the town limits. That’s what hooked by brother-in-law to try it. If A developer gives some decent green zoned land, we should experiment with it. A common shed and some shared servicing of the land to prep it and let the budding farmers loose with some mentoring.

    Walking trails that don’t connect, iconic lakes that don’t fill, multiple zoned developments that don’t happen. I hope that some of the dreams of the current administration can come true, few of the past dreams are moving forward.

    Alas, we speak of logical things and are unlikely to be seen as credible.

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  14. The root of our development issues, I believe, is that a significant element of Hudson has not yet recognized or accepted the very real need for Hudson to develop.

    There has been over a long time, an arrogance and self-importance about Hudson. We demand perfect solutions, and with our highly imperfect and crumbling town no competent developer will chose to meet the standards we set.

    Officially we’re open for business but the reality is that we stall, study and jam development to a halt whenever we can. So, we remain constantly out of step with fiscal and real estate issues of the times. Some blame TPAC, some blame council. I blame the community because we’re all responsible for setting clear paths our leaders can follow. And the path we’ve been following is unsustainable, something our leaders have told us in the long awaited strategic plan.

    I believe that if we don’t find a way to develop soon, and as the increasing MRC desired densities become reality, we will make our own case that Hudson needs to be merged to survive and also to exist withing the goals and context of the MRC.

    Those who believe that every new development plan somehow diminishes Hudson are actually creating the logical end of the Hudson they know and love.

    To better understand, I have communicated and spent time with those who have tried to develop and usually I walk away wondering how they have been so patient and why they’re still interested in moving any plan forward.

    The reality is that old Hudson doesn’t have that long left if we continue, so perhaps the most profitable development option for landowners is to propose nothing and simply wait a few more years for Hudson to chew itself to death and fail to develop enough new housing to pay its bills and maintain its infrastructure. Once that happens, and we’re insolvent and merged, developers will have a feast as Hudson will finally conform to MRC priorities and they can build easily.

    Next year, your Hudson taxes will have to rise significantly because we’ll be lucky to have 10% of the required and planned growth in development.

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  15. I agree with you Peter. A lot of Hudsonites want their town to stay as is, with houses on large lots, save for the centre of town. They don’t want “cheaper” housing as they feel that if buyers want to move to Hudson they should be instead be buying their older existing houses. Unfortunately a lot of these nice houses also need work and that takes time and money. The younger generation is very different than we were and that’s because they have been brought up with more than we had and their expectations are very high. They want turn-key houses or pretty close, low maintenance, and although they admire large 30,000 sf lots, they don’t want the upkeep. They both work (mostly), kids are in daycare, or if in school they have tons of extracurricular activities. That’s why Mr. Ellerbeck’s project of smaller houses, semi-detached or townhouse are badly needed and the town should work to make this happen. You’re right that some people think that building less expensive housing would be somehow “cheapening” Hudson and that’s unfortunate. Residents also have to be “sold” on the idea and not feel it is being forced on them. There’s also the water issue. It would be nice if town council would confirm once and for all, that there is actually enough water if we were to add another 2,000 residents as is their objective. I’m also not confident that the sewage treatment plant can handle both Ellerbecks, and Sandy Beach.
    Regarding building less expensive housing in an already built upscale neighbourhood, my personal opinion is that it would not be fair to the residents of that neighbourhood who had plunked down quite a bit of money knowing that lots would stay at 30,000 or 40,000′; however, if residents could be assured that it would be in their best interests (lower taxes, revitalizing the town with an influx of new residents, etc.) then maybe it would be welcomed. I think it would be up to their councillor to make a case because failing that, it would not pass a rezoning change.

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  16. Thanks Diane, you’ve been there and done that. I’m fairly sure that the Ellerbeck proposals did not plan to connect to the sewage plant. Also sure that the sewage plant was designed for excess capacity, I asked that question in the public consultation stage and got a vague answer that there was significant over capacity in the design and a modular way to expand it in the future. I’d bet we’re only 60% connected on the area serviced, we just connected this year because it wasn’t cheap and we had a perfectly functioning septic system

    As to water capacity, there apparently is some growing confidence that we have enough. Ask different engineers the same question and you can get different answers. At least it’s being looked at. We really missed an opportunity when the sewers went in to replace the old water lines in that area and also we could have included piping for a separate non-potable supply pumped from the lake for irrigation and other non sanitary uses. I know of new communities in Alberta who require that for toilets, servicing irrigation, pools and outdoor faucets, they avoid treatment costs of all the irrigation, car washing and other uses water.

    Mr. Ellerbeck has been patient past what I would have been with his successive tries to get this approved. A larger non-local developer owning that land would probably be stretching our legal bills to make us conform to MRC density standards and maximize his profit. Hudson has dragged our feet on re-zoning those PMAD density changes but the time is running out and we will have to conform soon. If we miss the time limit we won’t have any lower density options left, so we should be moving as quickly as possible on projects that are ready.

    One final comment. An existing Hudson resident won’t actually have to ever see the Ellerbeck’s development, they’d have to turn off Main and drive through it to see it. The point is that for the hyper sensitive to maintaining our look and feel, they will have to take a detour to suffer some perceived offending view. Unless they go out of their way, it can’t change the view they have of Hudson now. And that development will be right in the Ellerbeck’s back yard, so I’m 100% confident that it will be a valuable and attractive addition to Hudson.

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    1. Point of information: The Ellerbeck development always intended to connect to Bellevue interceptor to the south. Ellerbeck also undertook to extend a line to take in Leger/Oakfield, Willow/Anchorage and adjacent commercial. I’m told the sewage treatment plant is operating at half capacity and the waterworks can handle a lot more volume. The MAMOT quibble with the town is why dezone more agricultural land when Hudson is making no effort to densify serviced sectors?

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      1. High time Hudson got into business of selling water to St. Lazare and VD. All that’s needed is penstock from deep water off Quarry Point to existing well lines, upgraded to one metre once Hudson starts making money. Aquifer study says the volume may not be there. Mayor is right in proposing bandaid solution but wrong in claiming it negates need for new source to meet next summer’s shortfall. It’s time to plan for 10-20 years down the road as Rejean Boyer did in VD

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      2. Build on what we have instead of trying to define perfection. In 50 years and municipal admin which has made water and green space a priority will be seen as prophetic

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      3. PMAD is a four-letter word in Hudson because of NIMBY fearmongers and ill-informed elected officials. It’s a template for the 82-municipality MMC adopted by a near unanimous exec committee and adopted by the Charest government. It has since been adopted by the VS MRC. I’m blown away by the Don Quixotes who mount their asses and gallop off to do battle with bureaucratic windmills. Live with the PMAD, mon tabarnak. Densify the sewered portion of Hudson, stop milking the businesses and commercial landlords and spend the mandatory tax ($200 per business per year) to leverage some improvement cash. I hear Sauvé’s may not reopen this spring. What’s that say to you when Hudson can’t even support a frite stand?

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      4. I think there was to be a pumping station just about where Mr.E’s old driveway was pumping to the pumping station at Sanderson , up Bellevue to the line heading west through the woods along the old Bell servitude and through to the sewage treatment plant. After a journey like that I’d be …………………………you thought I was going to say pooped didn’t you , Jim. well I was.

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    2. The house we occupy in Florida has an underground reservoir for “grey” water used for washing the boat, cars, anything that doesn’t need potable water. Water is more scarce here than at home. I was told that on one little island they dug a well 750 feet and still did not find water. You learn to conserve.

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  17. There is no doubt the Ellerbeck project dragged on and on. I was there for the beginning and middle years 2005-2012. It confounds me to this day what on earth the problem was. The mandate received from the Corker adm. was that Mr. Ellerbeck was coming w/a proposal for smaller lots. The Town was for it as long as it meant smaller houses. What was trying to be avoided was 5000 sq. ft. houses on 10000 sq.ft. lots. as in Ile Bizzard or others. Mr.Ellerbeck agreed and through the years that followed we would hash things out and be right at the approved plan , some time would pass and Mr. E would finally come back w /a new plan invariably with more lots and we’d start again. Sewers came and indeed the crux of his development was he’d be hooking up to the sewer system. PMAD came and the densities would increase again and Mr.E’s plan would change again and again. Finally he was satisfied with the number of lots but then he changed his mind about house size when we asked for maximum footprints not to exceed what was considered proportionate to the lot size. Remember he had never ,ever, officially come with a zoning change request , just plan revisions , over and over …..14 to be exact . He would always leave the meetings unsatisfied. Many other developers came through the years , got their projects approved in always less than a year and went on to build.Hudson Valleys , Alstonvale, Whitlock West, Oakfield , Sandy Beach, UK1, Lower Maple………………Anyway I am so tired of trying to explain what happened there and have Mr.E and others claim the Town and Tpac were out to get him. The mistake was , in hindsight we stayed silent to respect his process while he did not.

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    1. Absolutely correct Brian isn’t it great being off TPAC and ungagged. I was there through it all and the documentation (minutes of the meetings, dates of submission and proposed plans) are all on record and the collective memory of all of the members over the years will confirm what Brian says. If you are in doubt ask your self why so many of the other projects went to completion and Mr. E’s didn’t.

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  18. There’s no sense in rehashing the past, I’ve clearly heard both sides and they don’t match closely. Every side has a different version of the same facts or excuse. 14 revisions is ridiculous and points to a badly flawed process, the Ellerbecks are intelligent and well versed in the business of real estate, I’m shocked they’ve had that kind of patience.

    The reduction in lot size was a good idea, but the zoning change proposed by town then severely limited the footprint to unworkable.

    I’m sure the footprint desired or required for viability wasn’t even close to 50%, but if everyone would have sat down in one room, including Ellerbecks, Mayor and Council, TPAC and Town Planners and there was a clear desire to get it done, it would have been done. So I presume that there wasn’t at that time a clear desire to come to an acceptable compromise, and it didn’t get done. SO I maintain that there simply wasn’t a desire to get it done, which falls onto to council not TPAC.

    If we don’t get such a meeting of minds and and agreement soon, eventually we’ll be far less happy when the PMAD finally must be accepted and enforced. Ellerbeck probably would benefit financially as that land would be worth a bunch more under the density required by PMAD.

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  19. They’re the ones who made all 14 revisions unasked for. As I said I’m tired of the whole thing. Has anyone seen Mr. Ellerbeck. He hasn’t been back to the Town since April 2014. He’s got a pro-development council , a pmad that plays right into his hands. What’s he waiting for? Doesn’t it all start to resemble a badly played game? And always someone picking up their ball and going home ? Some patience was required by all the rest of the players in this fiasco also. as you said, past is past and I think I agree with development which will keep taxes down. The experts are pretty much in line w/the thinking that spread out suburbia like we have in Hudson rarely brings taxes down and at best is zero sum . 50 houses on 30000 sq.ft. lots require a lot more infrastructure (which will at some point need replacement) than one condo tower or even clustering houses and saves way more greenspace. Yes we must grow or face inevitable tax increases but we need to grow up as opposed to out , cluster as opposed to spread or it’s all just a fools’ parade where we grab more taxes now with no regard to to saving money for eventual infrastructure replacement in 20 years . Then there are the people like myself who will pay higher taxes obligingly for the quality of life I prefer out here in the wilderness. Less Infrastructure should always be the goal.

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    1. The footprint size vs the lot was the last stumbling block when I was on council. If memory serves me right and I could be off here but TPAC had recommended that the footprint total not be more than 12%. There was of course an allotment for a detached garage, shed of an extra 5%. This issue had never been raised before by TPAC. I think Mr. Ellerbeck felt that 20% was more in line and Janet, who certainly knows real estate, said that if someone wanted a two car garage, then it would leave the house size at 900sf which would not be ideal. The thing TPAC and council wanted to avoid was Kirkland style houses, large on small lots (no disrespect to Kirkland residents!). I was ready to compromise to something in between and so was someone else on council, but we were outvoted and that’s the way it is when you sit on council. I was surprised that Mr. E. didn’t insist, make a better argument or come back. I guess he was discouraged. I to think though that perhaps it would have been better if he had had someone representing him. The project was very personal for him with reason. I’m surprised that more hasn’t been done to start this project. I know he moved his house, cleared some land. You never know he could be getting ready for spring. Let’s hope.

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  20. George Ellerbeck posted the following to clarify a number of statements made in this thread:
    In 2004 Janet and I had an unsolicited offer on our house in Como. There would be no point in selling unless we could stay in Hudson. The Johnston property had been for sale and had been unsuccessfully pursued by a western Hudsonite. As an investment it made good sense to purchase the farm as the area between the river and the train tracks was already zoned ‘white’ – Residental for 30,000 sq. ft. lots. The remainder of the farm which extends southward from the train tracks to Harwood opposite the Ultramar [on Highway 342] remains “Green” – Agricultural. In total 57+ hectares.
    During 2006 the biologist reports and soil testing were completed and reconfirmed after the 2008 Hudson Wetlands Report. I contacted Mayor Corker and requested an exploratory meeting with the TPAC during which we wished to discuss the option of having 15,000 to 20,000 sq. ft. lots with 15m wide roads instead of the Hudson norm of 20m wide roads. TPAC rejected the concepts and chided us for not having a professional drawing. It was during this period Hudson was looking for a lot for the Palliative Care building. We offered to donate part of our area to the organization. We also requested a limited subdivision of large lots but it was rejected due a post 2005 by-law that stated that only one lot could be divided from a residential property otherwise the whole property must be subdivided.
    Shortly after our second rejection Whitlock West was approved with 15m wide roads and semidetached housing.
    The sewer line from Bellevue was unaccountably installed across our agricultural land rather than along the Main Road to Hudson. However a short portion of the line came as far west along the Main Road in Como to service Parson/Wilkinson Circle which is adjacent to our property. The sewer line is presently under used and as a result the town has to annually spent thousands of dollars to put chemicals into the system to keep the flow active. The Director of Public Works has confirmed that an additional 100+ homes would solve the flow problem. The town’s filtration plant is nowhere near its capacity.
    In the 2009 Master Plan Mayor Corker suggested that our subdivision should be allowed to connect to the sewer line to accommodate 15,000 sq. ft. lots for single family and semi-detached homes. With the arrival of a new administration under Mayor Elliott we proceeded to try again to get a subdivision proposal accepted which would entail a by-law change. Before we could even present our proposal the TPAC issued an edict that our property if subdivided, must have 25% of the lots over 30,000 sq. ft., 50% over 20,000sq. ft., and only 25% of the lots could be 15,000 sq. ft. So much for Mayor Corker’s vision.
    I had a plan drafted by architect Richard Grinnell and on the advice of Mayor Elliott proposed several multi-attached (4 two-storey units/building) housing were introduced along with the single family houses. There was a road connecting the area to the tennis club road in the first plan in 2010. I was told to revise the plan as the road infringed too much on a wet area. With the elimination of part of the road there was now more area in the revision to accommodate more units. TPAC didn’t see it that way. On the north side of the stream the density of 9000 sq. ft. per multi-unit was acceptable. TPAC demanded 14,000 sq. ft. per unit on the other side of the stream. Another revision was required. And on it went. TPAC would agree with the proposal with each revision except there would always be additional “but’s”. Such as no driveways allowed from the 30K lots on to the Main Road (that ruined a 30m wide park entrance to the site), A ditch had to be investigated (the MRC biologist finally decreed it was a ditch, not a stream). That took four months! Our biologist’s report was questioned (the same biologist that had surveyed the Oakfield/tennis club area). It took six months for the Environment Committee to inspect and subsequently concur with our biologist. Finally at the end of 2011 after the TPAC had completely disregarded a revised plan that had complied with all their demands we then abandoned the idea of multi-family units and requested semidetached units. (It’s all available in the minutes of the TPAC meetings.) If anyone thinks that paying architects is for additional unwarranted plans is practical I can ensure it isn’t.
    Once again density was the issue. In April 2012 the numbers were finally agreed upon. It took until July for the Urban Planning Director to draft the by-law change. When the bylaw was shown to me I couldn’t believe it. The TPAC had again changed the minimum area per unit which would mean another revision and secondly out of nowhere came the maximum footprint for our dwellings would to be limited to 12% of the lot size. Footprint sizes versus lot sizes had never been discussed at any time during the negotiation process. The maximum house footprints in the zones adjacent to ours is 20%. This was clearly an attempt at spot zoning, which is illegal. TPAC would not change its decree and the councillors, who had not received a full explanation of the ramifications of a 12% footprint from TPAC chairman R. Spencer, voted to agree with TPAC. Brian Grubert has written about his fear of a 5000 sq. ft. houses on 10,000 sq. ft. lots (50% footprint). Well, imagine a 12% footprint, a 1200 sq. ft. bungalow with an attached garage on a 10,000 sq. ft. lot. The living space would be reduced to about 950 sq. ft. It would not be worthwhile to buy the lot just to build a shoebox home. Rarely in Hudson has anyone built to the maximum footprint, even at 20%. So why was the 12% footprint pushed so hard? [Ellerbeck believes] TPAC had run out of objections and was desperate to kill the project. Returning to the TPAC or making a direct request to Council (probably the weakest in Hudson history) asking them to alter their decisions would have been a waste of time and money.
    In 2014 there were TPAC members who still did not realize that PMAD existed and that the density requirements would affect Hudson. To avoid the PMAD restrictions we submitted a proposal to the new administration in November 2014. In June 2015 I volunteered a revised proposal to address the rumored concerns of the committee. DG Campbell sent us a note indicating that we would receive a reply after the Strategic Plan/Vision was presented in September. That didn’t happen as the Phase I dealt primarily with the arts and culture. Now we are wondering if the next Strategic Plan/Vision scheduled for this spring will encompass our request. Will the PMAD requirement of 16 units/hectare be forced upon us?
    Our goal has always been to have lots similar in size to those recommended by Mayor Corker. TPAC at its delusional peak tried to micromanage our project. [Ellerbeck reminds us that] Hudson Valleys, Alstonvale, Woodcroft, Simon’s Farm I and II, Oakfield, Whitlock West, Hudson Sandy Beach, were established prior our entering the game. The UK1 developer was given the merry-go-round treatment for years.

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    1. There is no doubt that a 12% footprint can mean a 1200 sq. ft house on a 10000 sq.ft. lot with an attached garage at 400 sq. ft. leaving an 800 sq.ft. living space. It can also mean a 1200 sq.ft. footprint with 2 stories which would equal 2400 sq.ft. with a detached garage of 5% lot occupancy of 500 Sq. ft./ or a 2 story home with an attached garage of 400 sq.ft. leaving living space of 2000 sq.ft. The 1 story houses would resemble the typical bungalow existing now on Mt. Pleasant and the 2 story houses would resemble those on Woodcroft or most of Fairhaven. Maybe TPAC was delusional but it’s what we thought was our mandate to ensure flexibility of design while preventing the “Kirkland” complex. We did not know who the eventual developer would be but we knew whoever it eventually was would need to abide by our zoning bylaw. Real estate changes hands all the time especially after rezoning and there can be little doubt that densified rezoning leads to higher value resales.

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  21. Diane, thanks for clarifying that blocking point on the smaller lot sizes demand that came up late in the 14th revision of the process after smaller lots were made possible by having the connection to the sewer. That developer funded sewer connection would have also connected a number of existing houses.

    We wore the Ellerbeck’s will down and the end was a proposed zoning that would have limited the smaller lots to tiny homes, even for the semi-detached buildings. Anyone could do the math and realize that the zoning proposed by the planning department (based I presume on TPAC recommendations) made it difficult to build and sell homes.

    My opinion, is it would probably be in the Ellerbeck’s best interest now to wait out the PMAD, the density of the development could be much higher after that. PMAD is something that Hudson has delayed again and again, but I think we’re probably on our final one year delay so there’s a short window to approve less dense zoning that will stick. There’s no excuse not to have the PMAD done by now, we’re got a lot of money going into planning and not much building getting past TPAC to manage, but the final strategic plan re-write seems to be one of the stumbling blocks.

    It’s not a question of a town overriding TPAC, it’s a question of meeting and compromise in everyone’s best interest. It would be in the best interest of the Town, who have a target of 80-100 new homes per year, to get this development approved before we’re subject to PMAD. Maybe someone could invite TPAC and the Ellerbecks to a meeting intending to break the logjam and draft an acceptable compromise.

    I disagree on Diane’s point that the Ellerbecks might have been better off having someone represent them. We had the ideal developer personally engaged, a family deeply knowledgeable and involved in the community. Hudson proved itself resistant to development and they tried 14 ways to make Hudson change that attitude.

    So, the ball’s in Hudson’s court any way I look at it. We need development, we know where an interested developer is and we basically know what he wants and needs. Leadership can make it happen, expecting another proposal from the Ellerbecks is just a continuation of the same thinking that hasn’t worked 14 times before.

    And one of the best reasons for this development: It’s not actually in anyone’s back yard except the developers.

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  22. Have to agree with pretty much everything Diane said . It’s what my memory recalls and the smaller house sizes were discussed and agreed between Mr.E. and Tpac in 2008. I was there and I asked the question which was after Mr.E had lectured on the need for more affordable smaller houses so younger families could afford to live in Hudson. I asked if he agreed to have the condition enshrined in the zoning bylaw and he encouraged it. It is minuted and it was Council’s request at the time. All the documentation is there It was open to negotiation until the developer refused to discuss it in 2012. Allow me just a small point on one issue. We agreed the dev. would not have an impact on Main Road and asked that that no driveways exit on to Main other than , obviously the entrance road. Mr. Ellebeck chose this as a huge issue that he couldn’t abide by telling us it was nonsense. Our mandate was ,as well as vetting the internals of the project, to lessen impact and circulation problems on Main which is already congested. Mr. E went away again stating how intractable we were to any who would listen. As I said it just seemed a game after awhile.

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    1. Right once again Brian. No matter how much some people want to rewrite history the facts are there in the minutes, hard copy of the proposals and collective memory of those involved.
      Once again Peter has a lot to say for someone who wasn’t there.
      I don’t disagree with him on the main issue, no one can stand in the way of development, lets just make sure it serves the better good.

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  23. I come away from a re-read of this whole issue with a clear understanding of why the PMAD exists and why we will be subject to it sooner or later. Meetings were held and each side walked away with a different view of action and what needed to be done, and even what was said or agreed. Another reason TPAC minutes should be published in a timely fashion on Hudson’s website.

    I also see that Hudson has always known what it doesn’t want to become, but has remained very clear on what it would like to be, but our aspirations are often out of step with economic and market realities. So we have an inventory of unbuilt 30,00 sq foot lots and refuse to zone something the market wants. Just another way to block development for some. Sandy Beach is stalled, Hudson Valleys wants smaller lots for some of the unfinished parts, etc.

    If there were any game being played it was that Hudson is a closeted anti-development community, except when a few decide it’s necessary. Whitlock Ouest was a perfect example, especially the original plan to use Birch Hill as access to inconvenience Whitlock less.

    The past in many communities was full of varied zoning within the serviced and white zone of any town and that complicates the approval process and allows too much opinion based decision or even favouritism. Communities could treat different developers differently with varied small zones, and Hudson has. The MRC structure needs perpetual development, I feel that is ultimately a flawed model, but Hudson is a willing or unwilling part of that model no matter what we think or do.

    Hudson has been in MRC, PMAD, AMT, SQ and other alphabetical threats denial for too long, and one day soon there will be far less flexibility on many issues including the ways we have used to stall developments in the past.

    If the current administration can’t entice development then their strategic plan is a sham that will crumble expensively. Luckily, we finally have an administration honest with the numbers of new homes we will need, and that forces them to be pro development.

    Time will tell if the current and finally elected not acclaimed Hudson Council have the vision, marketing and management skills to entice developers to proceed within Hudson, especially the developers who have invested a lot of time and money over the years only to be judged to have been playing some sort of game. Truth is we need them more than they need us, and more so every passing month.

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    1. You are absolutely right, Peter. I have asked for all the missing TPAC minutes but I’m not optimistic. This administration’s position is that only when council reaches a decision on an application to urban planning and rubber stamps that decision at a monthly council meeting, is the decision made public. It works to the benefit of an autocratic administration because what SHOULD be an administrative process is transformed into a political process. This is why Rob Spencer fought to have TPAC minutes posted at the start of his first term under Elliott and Villandre. Posting the minutes means citizens have an opportunity to get involved in the process, as is the case in most Canadian provinces and U.S. states. Quebec has resisted opening the process because it makes it more difficult for developers and elected officials to get cozy. This is precisely what the upcoming Faubourg Contrecoeur trial is all about.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Marcus Owen is continuously reminding our adm. at Council meetings about getting the minutes of TPAC get togethers on the web site. Each time there’s a lot of paper rustling after which he is assured the future will see it done right. Last TPAC minutes available on the Town site… October 8, 2015. He was told last time by our new DG they were under no legal obligation to post them there even though under urban planning on the site there is a list of Dates with either agendas or minutes. So there Peter, I’m guessing nothing will really change. It is the urban planning dept. which is responsible for furnishing the missing minutes. Leave a message and they’ll get right back to you within the month.

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    1. Mayor Corker’s secret mandate to the TPAC?
      If Brian Grubert received one he didn’t reveal its contents to the citizens of Hudson nor to the potential developers. I used to be under the impression that the ADVISORY Committee was established to assist the Council by doing the ground work as well as ensuring that the developers, builders, and merchants in Hudson were informed. The TPAC initiative was a great concept for the founding group of 13 members until the group mutated to a committee of seven. TPAC became the Town Planning CRITICIZING Committee. The TPCC rather than outlining the unwritten laws from previous administrations waited until a developer unwittingly transgressed a dogma. As it is with most of these tenets they became misinterpreted, incorrectly enacted, and outdated. The question remains why do these unwritten rules exist in the first place?
      The Traffic Survey commissioned by Mayor Corker concluded that Hudson did not have a problem nor would it have one due to the town’s limited potential for growth. The above discussion Mr. Grubert refers to was a question asked concerning our visualization of house sizes in Como. We did not and still do not want “McMasions” on our property. There are already areas in Hudson set aside for that type of dwellings. The attempted implementation of the 12% footprint rule rather than accepting the Hudson norm of 20% for our area was unacceptable for so many reasons. Mr. Grubert’s justifications for 12% are shallow and do not take into account that every house cannot have a basement for storage, the age of the owners, the fact that detached garages went out style after WWII, and that once a house is built to its maximum footprint of 12% there can be no footprint increase to accommodate a sunroom or an extra ground floor bedroom. The 12% rule categorically condemns bungalows, the dream of many seniors.
      Nor has Mr. G. acknowledged that the developer has the option of trying to maintain the Hudson eclectic approach to the size and style of residences that will be built in his area. If a house plan is acceptable the request for the building permit goes to the TPCC for its blessing and finally to the Council for its approval.
      Our current architectural planning and by-laws will have to change dramatically when the MRC density rules are endorsed. 16 units per hectare using the PMAD example equates to 4714.8sf per single family lot. (1 Hectare = 10,000sm = 107,639.1sf. 30% is deducted for roads and greenspace = 32,201.7sf leaving 75,437.4sf to be divided by the density of 16 = 4714.8sf). The single family lot area can be increased in size but only if there are attached/multiple unit/condos housing in the planned subdivision.

      I’m done with ‘flogging the dead horse’ and will make no further comment.

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  25. You give me too much credit , Mr. Ellerbeck. I have rarely been persuasive enough to have influenced that many people on TPAC or Council. Anyway my TPAC jersey has been retired for 3 years now and I daresay that any opinions I have are junk mail to this administration. I wish you the best and I know I speak for Jim Duff in wishing you would keep on engaging on whatever issue comes up on this site………….brian

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  26. Obviously the appearance is that density rules are not Hudson’s friend, certainly in those areas where sewers are available. I suppose the fallback is to develop around septic. I’m not sure, but I think the provincial norms for minimum lot size with septic and town water are 15,000 sq. feet, but that may have become 20,000.

    Hudson shot itself in the foot at exactly the wrong time in the national and local economy by insisting on 30,000 sq. feet, and those lots zoned that way still have not sold out and are seeking reduction via zoning change. a revision that will be fought by residents in that area as devaluing their large properties.

    Decades ago in Vermont new developer zoning required either a small sewage treatment facility or common septic. The common septic ensured a minimum inconvenience hookup when sewage treatment became available at a later date. I believe Whitlock Ouest has a common septic system, perhaps if Birch Hill ever gets sewers it could be connected eventually. It is, long term, better to develop with sewage treatment where available, Birch Hill is an example of a long term community liability due to building where compromised or minimally acceptable drainage exists.

    The Ellerbeck’s project sought smaller lots at the time by connecting to sewers, a great idea with an under capacity and supposedly expandable sewage treatment plant. The access to smaller housing models for a mix of both young families and autonomous seniors in a pastoral setting just out of town center solves many issues at once with minimal visual or traffic impact on Hudson.

    Time to rip off the rear view mirrors, I doubt we’ll ever get any satisfaction or even absolute truth by forensically exploring how the 12% option happened and who is to blame. But that 12% was the straw that broke the spirit of the Ellerbeck’s plans, so it needs to be addressed and changed or confirmed as cast in stone .

    Hopefully the team currently in power will take time away from their other battlefronts and grab the steering wheel of this foundering ship and start looking forward at the looming PMAD brick wall and financial crunches if we don’t develop. We need someone to build a bridge.

    I’ve looked at it carefully and I believe the Ellerbeck’s project, as they last proposed with an allowed mix of semi-detached, perhaps row houses, and detached homes, but with the much more usual Hudson standard 20% footprint (plus 5% for garage) is exactly the compromise we probably need to unlock this development opportunity.

    I’ve heard it called Eisenhower’s law: “Above all else, do something”

    I don’t believe the town of Hudson should wait for a proposal, I think they should reach out with a draft of a footprint revision of the proposed bylaw to kick start this from exactly the point it last went off the rails.

    Anyone against this idea: please post here to object logically and respectfully so that we may all better understand each other and specifically why you think this proposal would damage or limit Hudson in the present or the future.

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  27. Not to be too technical , Peter, but I believe revision 11 came closest to a layout and density concensus between TPAC and Mr.E. The contentious issue there was the lot occupancy (%) and the FSI (floor space index – more of Dave’s input required here to properly explain this figure which is prevalent in modern urban planning ). So we’re at 20% vs 12% in lot occupancy. Surely there can be some opportunity for compromise and resolution here no matter the numbers .I believe the sewer hook-up is probably a go if it doesn’t prove cost prohibitive to the developer. I can even see some of the other houses down there helping with the costs . Heavy clay there. I’m sure right next door the Oakfield Development is mostly ECO-FLOW or BIONEST . Both systems can find approval even in soils which percolate poorly. The problem is they take up a bit more room than conventional septic systems . Tricky on 10K sq.ft. lots but doable if legal. I’m not totally conversant on that issue.

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  28. I’ve seen and heard various comments that I’m being alarmist or using scare tactics to support development in Hudson, especially that I’m overstating the risk of the density limits in PMAD.

    I do my best as an amateur involved citizen to understand the complexities of the municipality and the decisions we make. I’ve never cared if I was popular, but I am rigid in doing my best to be well informed and state correct positions.

    To be fair, much of what I know of PMAD has been gleaned from others. One side has spoken in specifics and the other in generalities. SO I may have, to this point, lacked some of the facts to back up my positions.

    To be perfectly clear, I have no interest in any developer’s project, but I have a deep belief that there are several factors in our past and present that make some higher level of development imperative to maintain our autonomy and avoid insolvency or eventual merger. The current administration’s strategic plan sets that bar at approximately 80-100 households per year for the next 5 years. I think that is a reasonable goal for fiscal reasons, but that it will be impossible to achieve for social and political reasons.

    I’ve asked several of those who have commented that I am fear mongering to clarify it for me on this blog, so we might all learn something. So far, I have not had any clarification. SO I’m undertaking to actually study the issue in more detail and will use the PMAD as reference in further comments so that we may discuss specific points.

    For those interested in a common discussion I’ve located an English detailed version of PMAD at:

    http://cmm.qc.ca/fileadmin/user_upload/pmad2012/documentation/20120813_PMAD_eng.pdf

    It’s a glossy 220 page version of the PMAD, not legally binding because it’s in English but it’s the best of several documents I could find.

    On first quick skim and a detailed reading of just a few points:

    PMAD need not be feared, but it MUST be respected. Its typical government group think and suggested guidelines that likely will eventually be dictated. If we don’t manage our implementation of PMAD it will eventually be forced upon us (my opinion) one way or the other. The other way of enforcement is usually an inability to get grant money because we’ve gone off the government’s defined track. The was a time in Hudson that we could not get grants because we had too little debt and were deemed able to finance projects ourselves. Not the case any more, now we’re skirting the limits of acceptable debt and looking at PPP to allow financing some big projects in our strategic plan.

    I think Hudson is terribly remiss in being behind schedule on PMAD. We should already have passed a PMAD acceptable land use bylaw to define our available land and intended densities. Especially if those intentions will likely differ from the big brush goals of PMAD. To not have a stated plan in by-law risks a deemed tacit acceptance of the goals of PMAD that we will not like. I think we should have already defined our plan into law by now, we pay a planning department but we don’t use them properly. The challenge here is that we will then actually have to treat all owners of white zoned land equally and fairly. We’ll lose the ability to redefine goals project y project and to pick and choose favourites. That is actually one of the stated goals of PMAD, to allow developers equal access under standardized rules.

    Hudson should be very specific that we are a TOD free zone. The Hudson train station, with only one train per day, does not define the downtown core of Hudson as a TOD and that would exempt us or at least define our intent to be exempt of TOD status. The PMAD maps show Hudson core as a TOD, but to really be a TOD you need a mass transit concentration point, and I can’t call one train per day mass transit. I’d love to see an LRT with hourly trains, but until then we don’t really have a mass transit hub and should not have allowed a Hudson TOD designation to ever get in the PMAD documents which date way back.

    I welcome discussion and look forward to clarifying some of my positions. I thank those who have pointed out these issues and those who may have called me names and those who have questioned my intentions for the motivation to dig deeper into this very important subject for Hudson’s future. We should all be better informed.

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    1. I’m just curious Peter, where would you think a mass transit concentration point should be in Hudson? When I sat in Joel Gauthier’s office (Dg at the time) there was a large map on the wall with all the existing stations and the proposed ones. There was a dot near Montee Manson and when I asked about it I was told it was supposed to be a station but that the directors of the AMT had decided not to invest their infrastructure money there for the time being. If you remember, they were concentration their efforts and $ in the Train the l’Est.
      When the PMAD document was released and I grabbed a copy, lo and behold, there it was again on Montee Manson, although visible only when you enlarged the map with a magnifying glass, it was so small. So my point is, thinking ahead, if we are going to add another 2,000 people in Hudson according to the strategic plan vision how is Hudson going to address transportation issues? Maybe I got so confused by all the bells and whistles in the plan to forget looking for what was being planned for transport.
      In my view, a TODD for “transit oriented development”, means centred around a transportation hub, which means not only trains but buses, a central point where commuters come by bike, walk, drive, take a bus, whatever, to get to Vaudreuil or downtown. Whenever myself or Tom Birch, who was on transport committee before me, tried to get more trains per day for Hudson, we were told that was impossible, that it was not cost-effective, as the ridership did not warrant it. Many Hudsonites were starting to drive to Vaudreuil or took one of 5 CIT morning buses to Vaudreuil simply because there are many more trains leaving from there. There is also an Express bus that goes to Cote Vertu metro which runs late into the night. With some of the highway reserved for bus lanes, it’s a very good option into town.
      So my question is, is it not time to start thinking about the transportation issue before all these developments are all built? especially Sandy Beach being walking distance to the train station? Will we not need more transportation options rather besides cars for all the extra commuters? This could mean a Hudson express bus going straight to Vaudreuil’s intermodal hub.
      As this bus would have to leave from a central point, near the train, that to me would qualify as a transportation hub and therefore, a TODD. If, on the other hand, the AMT proposed to go forward with the Montée Manson option, then the TODD in the centre of town could then be eliminated. Of course, the Montée Manson option would have to go through green zoned land but if the AMT said to the government that they needed to build there, the government would just pass a decree and it would be a fait accompli. That station would then serve not only Hudson but St.Lazare and the new builds in Vaudreuil West.
      I haven’t heard anything about what has been going on at the CIT transportation meetings as there is no councillor report on those meetings. If I’m not mistaken, Mayor Prévost sits on that committee. Would be good to know what in the strategic vision is being planned transportation-wise for Hudson.

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    2. Good PMAD on you Peter.

      Stepping in here once again with a disclaimer. If a person has first-hand information, there is an ethical obligation that goes with it. Herein is a report of a conference I attended. In no way should this report be construed as otherwise than a duty.

      Thank you for bringing PMAD on to the table, Peter. PMAD is one of the key issues being discussed by municipalities throughout Quebec. PMAD in itself is not more than a document, a cookie-cutter guideline ‘to be respected’ in developing municipal density.

      Like yourself I thought PMAD was carved in stone until I along with a few others from the region, attended the CMM Agora last fall. There I learned municipalities are encouraged to think of PMAD as a basic template adjustable according to municipal’s treasures- hard and softscape heritiage, green spaces and so on.

      For the lack of a more sophisticated term to describe a PMAD application of such, I coined the term- ” a socially responsible PMAD”. For me, that phrase humanized what might otherwise be a general doctrine. A socially responsible PMAD defines density that is proportionate to land mass and pride of place. A socially responsible PMAD acknowledges and therefore encourages development by virtue of its well defined guidelines; it avoids over-development.

      Chateauguay-Lery is an outstanding example of a socially responsible PMAD application. The mayor Natalie Simon spoke clearly and passionately about the joint venture her council and citizens went on to tailor fit PMAD to their municipality. Citizen’s involvement played a huge role in the process.

      While PMAD success stories were not limited to Chateauguay -Lery, Mayor Simon voice stands strong in memory. What I heard was the voice of a passionate, determine and democratic political leader. Off stage, one-on-one, Simon was even more impressive. She was approachable, carried a humbleness that aired on side of inclusivity and credited the citizens for nurturing the very essence of the town loved by virtue of identifying its retainables.

      As your are a citizen of Hudson Peter, I assume your concern is PMAD application in Hudson ?

      From what I hear in the streets, Hudson financially needs to develop min. 80-100 household per year. Someone must know the PMAD timeline and limits before the judge rules, I do not.

      best of PMD to you

      Elaine

      .

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  29. Diane, My point is that we’v been coloured in on the PMAD map as a TOD for a long time, yet here are no plans in place or service to justify that designation. Being designated as a TOD has higher “suggested” densities for new developments that we may not want to have locked in stone in the future.

    We need to actively object to things that don’t or can’t apply to us, because they can come back to cost us or limit us later. The Vaudreuil train station is a good example of what is meant to be a TOD.

    In my opinion we should have, when this process started in about 2008, been getting it clear that we did not have a concentration point for transit that will justify being called a TOD. In the old days of Hudson I’m told there were 6 trains a day, we have one expensive train now.

    The CIT bus initiative is better suited to our area, it has been a great accomplishment.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. What a great conversation. Thank you ,Peter. And thank you Diane for bringing up the Montee Manson area. I think so important to our future. There can be no denying that our train station , as Peter says , will never serve as a TOD. So difficult to densify old neighborhoods. So many hurdles. Montee Manson has , if you look at Google maps so sparse an existing population that development there could be seen as bothering almost none of the status quo. TODs need collector routes leading to them . The crossing of Manson and the railroad tracks has 342 & Chemin Daoust and 40 to the south and Main road to the north. If there was a TOD there with the tracks to the west transformed into a road all the way to Quarry Point rail crossing it would pick up all the Hudson traffic as well as buses. It would cross Sanderson where it could pick up the ferry traffic. Main road through Como would become a secondary east/west as it should be. The rest of the rail line from Quarry Point to the Rail crossing at the bottom of Macaulay Hill could be a nature trail and then west of there back into a road to again take some pressure off Main to Montee Lavigne. With a TOD on Manson now a higher density well planned Hudson community satellite could be planned with it’s own small retail and enough room perhaps for a little light industrial with great access to the trains , the 40 , and the shopping area where the factory outlets are. Vancouver has become experts at these small satellite communities connected by LRT’s. A lot of people have done away with cars in them. Affordable housing , tax revenues, densification, water from the nearby river, connection to the Town sewers or its own plant and Hudson only slightly impacted. It’s exactly what Mayor Pilon , for obvious reasons never wanted happening . He wants it all to stop at Vaud.Dorion. This is a mandate the Town should give our planning department and one ,as planners , they should have been dreaming and studying for years.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. One point many seem to miss is that densifying of old neighborhoods does not seem to be a pressing goal of the PMAD protocol for an almost fully developed village like Hudson. So there would be no expectation that a single vacant lot in the village of Hudson would be required to be much denser than the buildings surrounding it. Rezoning vacant land into a development would need to be denser, but I don’t see much land in the village that fits that standard. Any rezone of R-55 would probably be expected to become higher density, so we should hang onto R-55 and find a developer to make it viable likely by dropping the Alzheimer’s care part.

    On the other hand, Sandy Beach is vacant save for one home, but it is already zoned for a specific density and I don’t read that we’d necessarily have to change the zoning to be denser because we have it currently approved. But, it’s the kind of land that PMAD would expect to be higher densisty with access to sewers.

    PMAD seeks to ensure that white zoned currently vacant land gets developed at higher densities, the ultimate goal being to protect more green space while concentrating the services required for new developments. It will be harder to change land from Green to White, which I think is a good result.

    Brian’s information on Montee Manson is interesting. That would be an ideal location to define a TOD zone, conditional on a train station being placed there. It would serve surrounding communities and could be higher density easily, which would bring more users to the train which should bring more trains per day. We should be lobbying for this option and make sure we define the existing Hudson Village as NOT TOD.

    No fear but I’m wary as I’m the government skeptic and while PMAD is currently soft sold as recommendations and guidelines it could easily become more written in stone at some point. Especially for those who do the Ostrich and leave their heads in the sand by doing nothing or ignoring it. Our best defense is to define clearly and in our way ASAP.

    NOW is the time we should be clear on defining acceptable “To Hudson” densities that will allow responsible development while maintaining the look and feel of Hudson. Put those into bylaws and I doubt the government would force a change because the tone is that they currently want this to be “voluntary” and they provide guidelines as “suggestions”.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. As a matter of record on this site I will update the last TPAC minutes published on the Town website just to keep track —– Oct.8/2015. Today—Feb.22/2016. Also the headline banner on the Town of Hudson website as of today is for the Shiverfest —Feb.6-7/2016. I feel it’s also important to advise of upcoming events not just the ones that happened 3 weeks ago. But I’m not in marketing and probably don’t understand the specifics.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. I reviewed the TPAC agenda posted for nine months of June, 2015 thru February 2016,

    While there were a number of renovations, garages and lots of signs for businesses, but only one new home to be discussed in August 2015. Since we don’t get minutes who knows if it was approved or was sent back for revisions?

    At the lower goal of 80 new doors per year, we’d need to approve 60 new builds in nine months on average. We’ve only discussed one. The 80-100 per year target seems a long way off from the reality of today.

    Liked by 1 person

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