Screwed, Hudson style

Warning to developers: Hudson doesn’t want you and will make your life hell.
The latest sighting of Hudson’s true anti-development colours came near the start of Monday’s February council meeting.
It’s the part where the councillors take turns reading the decisions of the Town Planning Advisory Committee. I tape these singsong recitations because they’re the only tangible proof that something has been decided since this administration has seen fit to turn TPAC into a policy instrument and ceased posting TPAC minutes online.

“448-450 Main Road: Commercial/residential project R443, considering this project subject to SPAIP (site planning and architectural integration program) Bylaw 571
First submitted in February 2014, with [four subsequent meetings], TPAC does not recommend preliminary rendition of the preliminary proposal for mixed building project.

“Members of TPAC do not see justification for extension of corridor between the buildings. In addition, both sides of the building should be connected as one building as per national building code. It is proposed by Durand, Woodhead that council agrees with TPAC that extension does not meet security and technical norms and that they can be joined underground to permit more parking and aesthetics.”

Josie Pascoe, owner/developer of the commercial/residential project at 448-450 Main Road, was stunned by this latest twist of the Hudson screw. “I had no idea what’s happening,” she told me Tuesday. “There’s no openness, no communication.”

Pascoe had planned to start construction of a 12-unit condominium block this spring, but after two years of negotiations with TPAC and Hudson’s urban planning department, she sounds ready to toss in the towel.

“Is it really worth going on? It’s not as if Hudson has an excess of major projects demanding attention,” she said. “They should give their people a mandate to get things done…if something doesn’t agree with them, they should pick up the phone, find solutions.”

She has already dropped money and energy into the total rehab of the 100-year-old former Habib’s, to the benefit of the entire community. Included in the commercial reno was the sales office for a dozen condo units in a separate building to the rear of 448-450 Main. Hudson’s zoning bylaws allow only one building per lot, so the plans for the condo included a glass-enclosed breezeway joining the old and the new.

Two years later, these clowns are asking her to forget the breezeway and build a tunnel.

If Pascoe decides she’s had enough of being jerked around, she’s not alone. Remember Chris Vinson, the hopeful Hudson resident who wanted to build an office/retail complex on Cameron opposite Cunningham’s? Cunningham’s enjoys taxpayer-subsidized parking; all Vinson was asking was the right to be able to claim access to a few public parking spaces along the mini-park opposite his property so he could satisfy the town’s selectively applied parking requirements. Even though he was ready have the park space landscaped to the town’s specifications at his expense, he was turned down. Instead he was told his clients could hoof it the 300 feet up to the former medicentre at 98 Cameron.

So rather than incur the cost of maintaining the two derelict structures on the double lot, he had them torn down.

Hudson’s stiff parking requirements for multi-unit residences and commercial properties are famously flexible when it comes to an administration’s pet projects. One of the councillors who refuses to explain to Pascoe the reasons why she’s being jerked around was all aglow at Monday’s meeting about a project to build a three-storey apartment block in the Wyman Memorial United Church parking lot. Unlike Pascoe’s proposed condo block, it would have no basement and therefore no underground parking. Wyman would retain the land but lose its parking, presumably because it would continue to enjoy public parking on the municipal lot at the corner of Main and Selkirk. If that isn’t a double standard, I’m the Pope.

Never mind that Hudson already has R-55, a 12-acre site off Côte St. Charles zoned for a seniors’ continuing-care campus. Never mind that Hudson has already been screwed twice by unscrupulous developers who promise an assisted-care seniors facility when they get their permit, then renege on the deal.

Louise Villandré, Hudson’s former town manager who is to be sentenced February 22 after pleading guilty to charges of fraud and abuse of trust, was far more honest in ensuring that people knew what was happening at the administrative level and why.

At first it was a joke, people wondering if the Town of Hudson could have Louise back to clean things up at town hall. It’s not funny any more.

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40 thoughts on “Screwed, Hudson style

  1. Hudson’s fiscal plans require development of 80-100 new taxpaying doors each year, so to stall a funded and shovel ready development in the downtown core seems very counterproductive.

    I don’t frankly see what we’re accomplishing or what the difference to the average citizen is if the buildings aren’t connected, or are connected by a breezeway or a tunnel. But I do see the difference in tax revenue if it doesn’t get built.

    We’re the slowest growing part of a fast growing MRC, shrinking in importance (except perhaps self-importance which we’re never short on) as our fixed costs rise every year and our ongoing fiscal management digs deeper holes we won’t be able to fill without development.

    Lawyers love us as we can’t resolve our problems and developers simply take their money elsewhere, but parades and landscape art get funded.

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  2. R-55 , What a sad saga it was. It started so generously with a group of Hudson philanthropists buying a key parcel of undeveloped Hudson land. They searched and searched for just the right people to develop it into a senior care facility encompassing all the stages from autonomous to assisted to dementia care. A small community specialist was found in Anbar Health Care from somewhere near Chicago. Some very impressive presentations led to our Hudson group selling at pretty much what they’d paid to Mr. Anbar. They kept a legal right of repurchase for the same if our developer hadn’t started within 2 years.
    A beautiful plan was drawn up , a rezoning referendum was passed and a brand new sewer line at tax payers expense was extended up Oakland to service the project. Boom, 2008 reared it’s ugly head and money dried up and our developer went looking for a mortgage on the land . The private lenders were unwilling to take a 2nd position behind our citizens’ group buy back lien and unfortunately the citizens were persuaded to give up their right.
    The mortgage loan was for $1.5 million , Mr. Anbar then scarpered w/o forwarding address and the land went back on the market for $3 million with our new landowners requesting a zoning change to high density residential leaving the Town yet again at the senior care altar . To Mike Elliot’s credit he never , ever budged on a zoning change . To this day what went on between Anbar and the lenders remains somehow murky.
    So , at last, here’s the thing. I am thinking the Town has every right to EXPROPRIATE the property at the market value for what ever this piece of land would fetch with its current zoning. We spent taxpayer dollars on this project and it remains the best site for our senior care hopes and dreams. And I’m willing to bet with the good of many at stake, any civil court judge would see it our way.

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  3. Brian, I’ll correct one part of this. The sewer line was not installed at general taxpayer expense, Corker’s original shared financing was protested by some citizens and found to be illegal. Only those taxpayers in the connected area pay for he sewage treatment plant and the sewers. Those in areas without sewers don’t pay anything for this fiasco.

    R-55 is indeed a sad saga and broken dream, now overpriced by debt and stuck there for a long time with a declining market and restricted zoning. We’d have a battle over market value and I think we can only expropriate for a general use purpose, so unless the town is planning to build in conformance with R-55, it would be ugly to expropriate and flip it to another developer or re-zone to higher value purpose.

    That said, we could perhaps offer a few years of tax holiday for new R-55 building as an incentive to a developer. Failing that, we could find another suitable lot to rezone to same R-55 specs and perhaps the solid threat of that would make the asking price on the current lot more reasonable.

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    1. I must disagree with the statement that the 65%/35% sewer infrastructure formula was “found to be illegal”. One individual decided on their own that it was and then presented their opinion “as fact” to council who accepted this opinion at face value which resulted in the undoing of a bylaw that had previously gone through all the steps required by the Cities and Towns Act to become law.

      From the onset (1999) in the relentless quest to obtain government funding for a municipal sewer system, we were told by our consulting engineers (who have done similar projects elsewhere in the Monteregie) that many municipalities as a matter of course tax a portion of the capital infrastructure cost for sewers to non-users, the logic being that reducing soil and water pollution benefits everyone and that everyone should also share covering those “public” buildings that are not taxed. MAMROD was fully aware of what Hudson was doing when it submitted its loan bylaw for this project for approval following its adoption by town council and required registration day. Never once did council ever hear that the proposed formula was “illegal”. MAMROD approved the loan bylaw for the project and in turn both levels of government (Quebec and Federal) approved the funding to make the project a reality.

      Perhaps we should consider this … what if most of what this individual presented “as fact” was not? Perchance, things may have been a lot different over the past two years ….

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      1. Thank you for this clarification Liz Corker. I think the current division is more unfair and that your administration had done a good job of allocation for the correct reasons which was then yanked back because we seemed to be told with some authority that it was illegal. I do commend your administration for getting the sewage approved and installed, we’d be in more of a mess without it.

        Hudson regularly rewrites its own oral history as fact based on rumour.

        Your last question is a very important one that we’ll likely never get answered, but there seems to have been a lot at play there from day one, mostly we the citizens.

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      2. Liz is right. About time someone finally put that myth to bed. That bylaw was legal and agreed on by the citizens. The problem came later on when the Main road watermain from Mac hill westward was found to be cost prohibitive and removed from the project. The people being serviced by it should have been removed from paying their part of it …… it should have been that simple.

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      3. Well myth or no myth, before I built my house I was told when I asked the urbanism department if water was coming and was told yes. The citizens of Hudson accepted the loan by-laws, yes they did, but for the 80 homes in the west end, they didn’t oppose because they felt there would be a benefit, just like the rest of Hudson taxpayers. Unfortunately, due to increased costs, that part of the project was dropped and we are now responsible for our own water and all the costs that we incur because we’re not connected to that very essential town service. The problem started after LV left office as while she was in office she had us all believing, including myself on council, that everyone should pay as we all benefitted from better water when we mosied into town. I personally felt that if the water I was served at the Viviry tasted better I was also paying more for my meal as the restaurant was paying higher taxes. The other ridiculous notion was just like the school system, we all pay school taxes whether we have kids to send to school or not. Not really as if we adopted tomorrow the school would be there, whereas if I wanted to connect to the water line it’s not there. When the new DG decided that this by-law was illegal and town council kind of agreed, well I couldn’t be sure about whether or not we would be charged. It was hard to get an answer. Daren Legeault also was on the case and it was very difficult for us to get any confirmation. To satisfy not only my curiosity, it was also a matter of principle, we hired a very well respected municipal lawyer at our cost, to give us a legal opinion on whether a town could go against the Municipal Taxation Act which states that a town cannot charge a taxpayer for a service they are not getting. His research found that a town west of us, not sure which one as I don’t have my paperwork in front of me, this town tried to charge some residents for a benefit they could not enjoy, I believe it was for sewers. Judge ruled against the town. So I am quite comfortable knowing that the 80 houses in the west end should never be charged either for water or sewers.
        As far as MAMOT approving this loan by-law as submitted, well I was told by someone at MAMROT that they are not there to check to see if things are legal they assume the town is doing it right, they are there to check the paperwork for the grant.
        I’m hoping MAMOT is more vigilant about these things now as they were lax in their duties. Sure towns are given great autonomy by the government over their own affairs but they are also supposed to abide by all the rules of the Cities and Towns Act. Rules were not always followed in Hudson. For example the town was the only town not submitting, as required, their yearly benchmark figures (indicateurs de gestion) to MAMROT, out of 1400 or so municipalities. Perhaps if the government had insisted a bit more, a lot of unpleasantness could have been avoided for the taxpayers of Hudson.

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  4. Peter, you’re probably quite right about the sewer. Was it laid w/the intent of having the eventual r-55 developer pay for it when his project was built? Was the corker regime left holding the bag for those costs. I meant for market value to reflect that in-place zoning and for that zoning ,which I quite like to be carved in stone (it was really quite specific) until our Town can try again to put a deal together with a developer specializing in this field. The current owners seem to have no interest in this type of project and their asking price reflects it – 3 million. It would be interesting to at least see what an independent appraisal would conclude based on the current zoning without the speculation of any chance of a future zone change. It might be 3 million and then it obviously would not be worth the expropriation route. It’s just such a great piece of land with such a great purpose I hate letting it lie in limbo. Anyway discussion is inexpensive and back seat driving is stress free. I’m good at it.

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    1. Lets not forget that when the R55 was originally implemented there was an existing single family residential zoning that would have permitted about 7 homes (just like all of the rest of the neighbourhood). The surrounding zone property owners were presented with a very well conceived, low density seniors care facility that would have had very little negative impact and this was clearly defined in the requested zoning change. The neighbours permitted this change to go through given these guarantees (not an easy sell in this town). Major Elliott was totally right in his stance that the R55 zone should be maintained and never densified to line the pockets of a land flipper. Prominent seniors care facility managers have considered this site but the cost is prohibitive.

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  5. Brian, As I understand it the pipe was laid up Oakland specifically for that connection. Also the pipe up Crescent for The School Formerly Known as Hudson High School was done to service the expansion of the school.

    The developer of the seniors campus would have logically been responsible for a share of the project capital costs and operating costs, probably on a per connection basis like the rest of the sewer system.

    The overall capital cost of the “SYSTEM” was to be borne 35% by the non-connected and 65% by the connected. We don’t charge schools or churches or town buildings a connection fee. Today, only the connected residnces and commercial properties pay anything for for sewers in the town, including town buildings, schools and churches, perhaps we should have Sewered resident passcards into the loo in those places and pay entry for non-connected ho need to use our sewers.

    The 65%-35% split was the illegal part of the plan. A town is not allowed to charge for any capital or operating costs of services that a property can’t use. That issue came up with the water system loans applicable to the West end of town that doesn’t get Hudson water and that argument carried back into the division of the sewage costs and fees.

    It’s all water under the Pine Lake Damn now, the plant and pipes are in, the cost overruns logged, grants mostly approved and only those connected are now paying. Which is why we who are connected should welcome and demand ever more users to be connected to share the operating costs. Currently though, we’re paying way under the replacement, operating and maintenance costs of a modern septic system and that should translate into higher property values. Example: Three homes on Hazelwood above Lakeview agreed to pay well in excess of $50K via assumed debt in taxation for a short pipe so they didn’t need to replace septic and or cesspools. Yes, we still have operating cesspools in parts of Hudson, walk around on a hot summer day and you’ll find the ones in bad shape.

    Back to R-55: Basically, a $600K property acquired, rezoned and sold to Anbar for excellent reasons and good purpose became a $1.5M mortgage and Anbar probably made quick money running from the project and defaulting. Now the mortgagor wants a big return asking for $3.0M for the land which amount they could only get by getting zoning changed and building something else. We can’t force a developer or landowner to build, we can and should refuse to significantly rezone it.

    Again, we can’t just expropriate a property because we want it, unless we will use it for a use that benefits the whole town. Unless taxes aren’t paid, we have little recourse. So unless the town builds the project we’d have to abandon the R-55 and make it a $3M park for example.

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  6. $3 million parks are probably not what Hudson needs now. There is still a phase 4 of the Alstonvale project kind of orphaned below the escarpment and by the railroad tracks across from Thompson Park. 20 acres , gorgeous views of the river on an evergreen covered knoll. I believe it may have been a second choice of our eventual r-55 citizen buyers. Any other large enough pieces are probably agricultural.

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    1. I was reading with interest the topic of Josie Pasco’s proposed development and was disappointed to learn that the project is stalled, yet again. That’s very unfortunate as the town needs this investment which will only help in revitalizing our commercial district. Since I don’t have all the facts as to why TPAC rejected the proposed extension and council accepted its recommendations, I presume the project was studied at length before coming to this conclusion. There are some very good people on that committee and it’s unfortunate that TPAC always seems to get a bad rap and I can tell you that most of the time it is not warranted. After my term as councillor and interim mayor I volunteered and was appointment to the committee. I decided to leave after my first year as I felt I couldn’t move anything forward, there didn’t seem to be any direction. I do believe posting the minutes on the town’s website would go a long way to explaining why decisions are made. Seems the DG believes, maybe rightly so, that it is not illegal not to post the minutes on the town’s website but for a council which ran on being utterly transparent, it leaves me wanting. Let’s hope Ms. Pescoe doesn’t throw in the towel, sticks with it and that the project is successful for both her and the town.

      Regarding the issue of Cote St-Charles property. Yes, this is zoned for a seniors’ complex. I believe the wish was for it to be for autonomous seniors, semi-autonomous and then for the alzheimer/dementia population. The asking price was 3million dollars unless it’s changed recently. I really don’t know if anything like it will be built there. I was just reading the other day that the Chartwell Residences had committed to build a large seniors’ residence in Vaudreuil-Dorion. Why did they not come to Hudson? I assume there are lots of reasons, some financial, some and probably the most important one in real estate – location. Let’s face it, seniors in Vaudreuil would have access to many trains/buses a day, be close to shopping. I predict quite a few Hudson seniors will move there and still be close to their friends, activities, church. Very unfortunate for us. As far as the town expropriating the land, I’m not sure I get what Peter Radcliffe intended. Was it for the town to purchase it (taxpayer’s money) and then turn it over to a developer?Not sure we have that kind of money right now. I also read not long ago that the owner of the Baie D’Urfe residence, the Maxwell, wanted to build another senior’s residence in Baie D’Urfe on land purchased by the town. Since a lot of the funding would come from CMHC, he applied and was turned down for a mortgage, not because he is not good at what he does but because when Ste. Anne’s Vet hospital is turned over to the government, there will be about 650 places for seniors in that building. They felt the market would dry up for other residences. I guess the Chartwell got lucky, or maybe they got private financing.

      Regarding Jim’s comment that Louise Villandre was far more honest in ensuring that people knew what was happening at the administrative level and why. I guess Jim is saying that because of the lack of transparency that seems to exist now? Wow! I guess you mean “selectively” Jim. So many things were actually hidden from council, things changed without their knowledge, Cities & Towns Act not respected, Loi fiscale not respected and I could go on and on. On the surface things looked like the town was very well run. Oh yes, but at what cost to the unsuspecting taxpayers?!

      Diane Piacente

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      1. People tend to forget the bad stuff. Me, I thought it was a trenchant comment on the current administration’s perceived shortcomings. Hey, Diane — don’t shoot the messenger, okY?

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    2. We have land of appropriate size and with existing seniors zoning and we have seniors project developers ready to come to town. Our problem is, as with most other vacant land development in Hudson the land owners are greedy and uncooperative.

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      1. Greedy, uncooperative landowners? The problem as I see it is a town where developable land is the battlefield for competing interests and public opinion. Development approval should be an administrative process, not a political slugfest. One set of rules for everyone.

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      2. To Jim below and Dave above , I don’t think the word greed can be applied with any fairness to the free market system in general and land sales in particular. The ownership of land goes with the presumption that the seller will try for the highest price he can get and the buyer for the lowest he can pay. Changes in zoning is where it gets tricky and where abuse can occur which is why we have the very political process of registration and referendum allowing citizens their say. Kind of like the jury system it allows for both sides to have their say and those most affected to judge. I think I’ve been reading too much about the Ghomeshi trial.

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      3. I don’t think greed is the reason the project hasn’t gotten off the ground. Sure, the land is expensive but in relation to what? Are they asking about $4.00 a sf? The Rosenberg foundation wants to get back what they invested and the $3,000,000 is just an asking price. I think the reason a developer isn’t biting is that the monthly rent would have to be very high for him to get a good return on his investment. Remember that when this project was initiated, rates on return of investment were quite a bit higher. I remember someone saying that when older Hudson seniors sell their homes, invest the money and use that investment to pay for rent and services. Well, you don’t get much today for your money. Invested in fixed assets, 3% if you’re lucky and besides those houses are not selling nor are they increasing in value like they used to. I don’t know what kind of rents the investors were thinking of when they gave the project to Anbar. I do know though through researching for a family member, that there are a lot of expensive seniors residences in the West Island which are not full. The market is not as vibrant as people thought. Personally I would like to see a seniors residence with rooms under 3,000 a month, the reasoning being that people on lower incomes do get back some of that money every month from the government. Also, anything to do with more than 1-1/5 hours of services a day well that’s another story, and the rent would probably be more than 6,000 a month. I think the town should send a strong message that they would be open to some sort of tax break in order to entice a developer. We need this project very badly.

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    1. Brian, Oxford dictionary …… greed …. wanting or taking in excess…..

      Land acquired through mortgage default for an allegedly $1.6 M and put back on the market with no additional upgrade for $3.0M almost twice the amount. = Excess
      I’m all in favour of making profit but when your profit margin stalls a potential project who wins? Looks to me like a lot of property owners are holding this town to ransom with the densification threat. (which is not as real as some would have us believe).

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      1. Dave I am 100% in agreement that the R-55 sector is stuck in a need for greed. That did not go as planned on any front, it’s a sad story.

        I am no expert on anything, I am generally deeply interested in the sustainable running of the town as a whole and I’d love to know specifically why we don’t need to fear densification and how we might avoid PMAD guidelines. I’ve been led to believe seem to be under a deadline with a hard final extension. If my fears are unfounded it is based on what I’ve heard and what others seem to know and everyone has a bias. Please enlighten us all from your perspective about why densification is not a real fear.

        If we could survive with zero development that would be 100% fine with me, except we’ve been living in an area that has grown via development and pulled many of our common costs upward rapidly. We have also not been maintaining our own infrastructure well, so there’s a deficit there. We overspent on the fire hall (my opinion) and we need many things we can’t just tax existing residents for.

        The current Strategic plan implies that we need 80-100 new doors per year for the next few years to maintain tax levels at current while addressing some old infrastructure and some new plans.

        There will be no chop and divide infill of village lots as a two adjacent teardowns at $200K each would support maybe 3 new structures on smaller lots at a land price of too high to build.

        So Good Development will soon become ones that we can actually get some building done quickly and therefore must suit not just our vision of perfect but the market’s vision and the developer’s ideas.

        Sandy Beach was a great development idea that has gone pretty well nowhere so far, I think one door total.
        R-55 is stalled until someone with enough money buys in to buy out the lenders looking for a big return. Not happening in the near term.
        Alstonvale and Hudson Valleys are beautiful and well done additions, neither fully sold if I’m not mistaken and plenty for sale and not moving.
        Whitlock Ouest seems to be a good development at a price point and configuration that markets well and while it’s not my taste I don’t have to see it unless I drive into it so I won’t judge that.
        The redo of the burnt apartments looms and doesn’t fit well where it is, but it’s a nice upgrade from the old but also at a much higher price.

        Thanks for all or your time on TPAC, and for the knowledge and experience you bring to this discussion.

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      2. Dave, everybody knew the terms of RFF’s bridge loan to Anbar. Everybody knew what would happen if Anbar defaulted. Everybody had plenty of warning that Anbar was in financial trouble. But everybody in the know made sure the little old ladies who had been encouraged to mark their condos in the project with an X were fed a line of bullshit instead of being told the truth.
        Anbar could have gone to a Canadian bank for a loan. Knowing what we know now, the consortium should have cosigned the loan or better, retained ownership through a 99-year lease as Shaar did with the Treehouse Daycare Centre. But for reasons best known to a few, the deal was structured to give RFF the land when Anbar defaulted. Your question should be why everyone from the mayor on down allowed themselves to be scammed by Anbar?
        Dave, believe what you want to believe, but neither of us were at the table when the Anbar/RFF deal went down. I’ll continue to believe the Registre foncier. Facts don’t have a spin.

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      3. R-55 predated the PMAD and the densification debate and TPAC was among the cheerleaders. The only person who expressed any misgivings about the solidity of the deal was the late Doug Chisholm. I realize it’s not within TPAC’s purview to ask what would happen if a developer defaults but it didn’t stop TPAC from asking that question of George Ellerbeck. Would that TPAC had exercised that zeal when Anbar was setting us up.

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      4. I would like to reply to Jim’s assertion below that he wished TPAC had been as diligent about asking Anbar the tough questions as we were of Mr. Ellerbeck. Now you’ve gone and done it . This should have been hashed out by now as in what Peter describes as rearview stuff. But you had to go and say that. The consortium of business citizens who put this deal together w/Anbar were the people responsible for due financial diligence. To say TPAC is responsible for vetting the financial fundamentals of a private deal between a group of deep pocketed Hudson business men(that excludes Dave and I) and an American property scammer is not in our hood. We were responsible for analysing the rightness of the plan and zoning change and seeing it through registration and if need be referendum along with council. I still feel the zoning there is appropriate and viable to Hudson’s needs regardless of who owns it. That’s the thing about free markets , eventually the present owners will have to lower their price and sell or whine to the Town to change the zoning. We just have to hang tight. What the hell is the rush to accommodate anybody especially in the aftermath of such a stinkin’ shady fiasco. We never questioned Mr. Ellerbeck’s financial resolve nor was it our place . We dealt in putting in place zoning which is most beneficial to the Town regardless of who the eventual developer is. Hey, wait a minute , were you just trying to get my bowels in an uproar(my mom used to say that)?

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      5. Something is sticking in my throat: the need to use ‘ greed’ in reference to Rosenberg Family Foundation – mortgage holders of R-55 defunct senior’s development.
        Is it True or false: Royal et al sold the land to Anbar at a profit?
        Is it True of false: Anbar got a mortgage on the land @ close to double the purchase price ?
        Question: Have you factored-in RFF’s loss of annual compound interest @ rate of the loan x years – before you figured them folks greedy?

        Moreover, until that land is sold no one has made a shit pile of money off it.

        I don’t want to be offensive, nor risk enemies but- whose greedy now ? .

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      6. Sorry none of your points stand up to scrutiny. Not interested in email debate … no body wins.
        Just making a point that lots of over priced land doesn’t get us projects or a good reputation.

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      7. Not sure where to reply to Brians Feb 18 th comments below but that is exactly the crux of it. Well said Brian thankfully you can write well and express ourselves 🙂
        And quite often give us a chuckle as well.

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  7. Diane , Peter wasn’t the one who recommended expropriation. I was. He and I had a discussion to and fro . He was against expropriation and made stronger points than me. I am the expropriator.

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  8. The comment about greedy uncooperative landowners and developers indicates exactly why Hudson has and likely will continue to have a development deficit leading to a long term tax crisis. That bias has been a part of TPAC for a long time.

    Development is a free market, and the communities around Hudson have enjoyed some of the fastest growth in Quebec over the past couple of decades in all price ranges.

    Surely, without such bias, we might have picked and chosen some quality development projects for Hudson from the development boom surrounding us?

    Instead, we now finally recognize that 80-100 new homes per year is required for a long range strategic plan right when the economy slows and new house starts are down.

    We’re truly an anachronism, somehow maintaining ourselves perpetually out of sync with the realities that surround us.

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    1. Exactly, development is a free market and that is why developers won’t come to Hudson. Land prices are just out of proportion and local “developers” for the most part unable or unwilling to market their land properly.
      For someone constantly on the outside and never participating, past the occasional letter to the ed. maybe you should volunteer some real working hours as a TPAC member. You would then have some real facts and experience to draw on.

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  9. Dave, your opinion and an interesting perspective that I respectfully find incorrect.

    Both on developers not coming to Hudson and on my own level of personal engagement and involvement and the number of hours I’ve spent in the interest of Hudson.

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    1. Dave, with respect to your valuable input, Peter has contributed more than people will ever know. Moreover he has attempted to bridge rifts, a thankless assignment in a community where real and imagined slights are carefully nurtured and feuds persist long after their causes have been forgotten. Myself, I believe the need for an activist TPAC are done. It’s only because of Quebec’s prehistoric view of public consultation at the municipal level that we’re even having this discussion. The old model demonstrably hasn’t worked Hudson’s advantage. Let’s move on.

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      1. Jim, I am curious, would you cancel referendums too?

        How might Citizens have a say if some neighbourhood change were to occur near them, changing their ideal of place? Is this not tampering with the basic civil rights which come with ownership?

        I always understood TPAC’s to be the collective memory, the particular eyes and lives on the ground and in neighbourhoods, offering refinement which legal textual garble cannot assure.

        We seem to regularly confuse who leads and who offers recommendations to those who lead. Unfortunaly, committees and their recommendations lately seem too have been rendered pointless, as if just for show.

        I agree, planning decisions should remain for the elected to make ultimately. But are they receiving all the data they require to make these decisions? Do they have the time and a variety if dolutions to draw from for this decision? Leading up to a decision, discussions, presentation of the varioud elements at play should be tested, shared, debated, evaluated, revised, resubmitted until the best outcome possible is derived for all concerned. Who best but a group of concerned citizens who hold some expertise, some attachment and memory of how/why things were done this way years ago.

        When the larger vision/the administration’s ideals changed every 4-years, what and/or who remains the common denominator across all these years? It should be the Planning program. How many of you have read this lately? It is a good vision statement/poryrait for Hudson, not to be simply ignored, avoided or turfed out for a new and improved replacement.

        In my opinion, public participation is important and keeps the elected and administration effective and accountable.

        Thanks for all you do in keeping discourse awake 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Jim please re read my comment putting it in it’s urban planning/TPAC context you will see that there was no intention to denigrate Peter’s contributions to Hudson. My comments refer solely to his lack of experience in this one field.
        I don’t object to him expressing an opinion what I object to is his comments made as if they are based on fact, when they really aren’t. (I notice that he is still at it in his latest rant re Ellerbeck).
        For anyone to accuse me of bias is way out of line. I have spent a great deal of my career designing and promoting public and private sector development and if I had any leaning at all it would be in favour of GOOD development.

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  10. We EX-PACs have had our skins thinned through the years so Jim and Peter will have to roll their eyes and try to forgive us our eccentricities. Dave and I were there a long time , many would say too long but we were committed and we took the potshots in moderately good spirits. Remember there was no one lining up to take our places in the old days. As new people came on with their own axes to grind , Phil Avis, Joyce Galliker Hank Snow, and Rob Spencer (just a few) they eventually saw the value in an engaged TPAC working at arm’s length from Council . If our recommendations were not followed we grumped and pouted a little but moved on. Grudges were a fact of life on both sides but 8 people could not hold up intransigence for long while trying to move forward so we always tried to find a way. People who own land are not fond of groups who see their properties differently than they and it was always a negotiation. I was the park and greenspace guy mostly by default because there was never anyone in our urban planning dept. who had any skills there or who showed much interest. Dave tried to make some sense of our downtown core and parking screw-ups. Dave has had a long career in urban planning and was always our go to procedural guy. Now no one is left who has the histories of these many files left hanging but they have some great people in Martin Leshowitz and Darren Legault who will figure it out . I still believe in TPACs and I think we got some good stuff done and started. I would ask you not to judge it all by a few projects that stalled themselves and got a lot of squeaky wheel attention.

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  11. Thanks Brian, akin to writing for the Hudson Gazette, TPAC is surely one of the most thankless and criticized volunteer efforts in Hudson, especially in the era you guys were there where there was not much direction, proper management or vision on mostly acclaimed councils for decades.

    I’m not shocked but saddened that while we spend close to $500K annually on sub-urban planning and we still don’t have onboard a skill set or a solid plan for parks, parking etc. They should spend all their free time dreaming and scheming parks, walking trails, parking and green space, because they’re just not managing much building.

    We spent $35K on the mostly photocopied and boilerplate Archer report and the downtown core is as bad or worse than ever. We battle over parking for new buildings and stall them. We need to buy or expropriate some land somewhere for parking so new or rebuilt buildings don’t have to bring their own. My goodness, where will we park the new Eco Trolley between runs?

    And, we don’t really have a workable zoning plan that creates equal opportunity for developers who own white zoned land and who can buy into to and meet the current council’s highly acclaimed and long awaited strategic plan development goals or face rapidly rising taxes. Wait, there’s a contract out to spend a few more thousands to make that Strategic plan simpler and easier to understand, arriving in March 2016 I believe.

    The bright spot is that on development issue, which has been like water torture, it is no longer a question of can we do it or do we want to do it. Now we’ve at least defined that we must do it or we crumble fiscally, proper and legal management of Hudson past might have avoided the cliff we’re perched atop. We can pick and choose and demand within reason, but in the end we must find a quick acceptable compromise and get it done well and quickly. If we fail and get merged we will be lose Hudson and the community will changed for the worse.

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  12. Are we going for a Key West-New Orleans French Quarter vibe here? I just love the idea but some adjustments would have to be made like wider wheels and an awesome set of shocks so the drinks wouldn’t spill!

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