You may be wondering why I begin this with a photo of one of the boil-water advisory signs at the entrance to neighbourhoods along Highway 342 in Vaudreuil-Dorion.
So read on.
One of the reasons I launched this WordPress blog was to give area residents a soapbox, something I’m often told is sorely lacking since the Gazette Vaudreuil-Soulanges ceased publication in October 2014.
The way I see it, my job is to get people talking again, to get ideas flowing again. I don’t see that happening at the municipal level. People can’t be bothered when they conclude their ideas aren’t welcomed or treated with respect. Whether through arrogance or ignorance, this administration has made it clear the only ideas it welcomes are those which dovetail with its own agenda. This is a legitimate approach but it’s hardly participatory democracy.
So it’s humbling to see the depth and breadth of informed comment on the issues I’ve raised on thousandlashes.ca. Hudson may have many faults, but the intelligence, wisdom and collective life experience of its people is not one.
Via this blog, we’ve learned of the work done by previous administrations in key areas of discussion – Brian Grubert and his Agricultural Advisory Committee colleagues on how best to incubate small-scale sustainable agricultural operations, the role of the Town Planning Advisory Committee – an advisory body which recommends, but has no power to dictate to the mayor and council. It is a shame when elected officials can’t find the guts to own up to a decision, instead blaming it on TPAC. As former mayor Liz Corker once told me, “we can ignore TPAC’s recommendations, but if we do it all the time, they’ll get discouraged and quit.” Compared to its neighbours, Hudson is a better place for its activist TPAC and it will be a shame when Mayor Ed Prévost and his council replace it with a hand-picked herd of trained seals.
This is just one of the many changes to come in the days ahead. Some of them are for the better, such as the sale or long-term lease of the town-owned lot at 98 Cameron to a developer. We had long hoped for a multi-unit residential development on this site because it will set the stage for others. The Daousts have expressed interest in a residential development on their works yard across the street and I fervently hope the town can iron out its differences with Josie Pascoe so as to allow her three-storey condo unit to be built at the foot of Cameron. These are all high-quality projects with the ability to bring new consumers to a town sadly lacking in reasons for optimism.
Some readers may recall how I accompanied the MRC delegation to the PMAD hearings at the Canadian Railway Museum in St. Constant. At the time I wrote that we would lose because the greens were on the side of the PMAD’s five-year freeze on all agricultural dezoning off the island. I still think the PMAD is a four-letter word but I think we agree it’s best to densify where services allow. The MAMOT quibble with the town is why dezone more agricultural land when Hudson is making no effort to densify serviced sectors.
So I support densification in the sectors where densification makes sense. I hope the Ellerbecks will re-present their project just west of the ferry. As Brian Grubert and Peter Ratcliffe explain better than I can, this project would have the added benefit of protecting a 50-hectare greenspace in perpetuity. I know this greenspace well, a mix of wetland and old-growth mixed forest, a natural park for future generations.
The town would benefit in other ways. The Ellerbeck development always intended to connect to the Bellevue sewage interceptor, which passes through that greenspace on its way to the treatment plant. Ellerbeck also undertook to extend a line to take in development on Leger/Oakfield as well as the Willow/Anchorage Inn and adjacent commercial zone. To address Diane Piacente’s concerns about the capacity of Hudson’s sewage and potable water treatment systems, I’m told the sewage treatment plant is operating at approximately half capacity (with 71 per cent of eligible users hooked up). The water treatment plant, as you probably know, was built to precipitate iron and manganese from the water supplied by the town’s three wells because of the impact on pipes and appliances and the propensity for certain bacteria to breed.
While the water filtration plant can handle considerably more volume than it is currently, ultimate capacity depends on backflush water storage and THAT depends on the levels of iron and manganese from the town’s wells. (The more we suck from Bradbury, Wellesley and Viviry wells, the more iron and manganese ions are pulled into the screen at the foot of the well and the more contaminated the water becomes. The water is safe to drink notwithstanding those levels (chlorine can be introduced during the precipitation/decantation process as well as directly at each wellhead) but it becomes an aesthetic issue with homeowners and businesses because of taste, odour and staining issues.
So, next summer and barring record precipitation (hardly a record this winter!) Hudson will once again institute a watering ban. Not because the treatment plant can’t handle it, but because the Town of Hudson needs a new well we can’t afford.
I’ve been writing and saying this again and again, but this time I’ll be making it personal. Mr. Prévost, we don’t need another well that will fail because the demand on it is too great.
We need to start drawing water from the Lake of Two Mountains.
St. Lazare, Rigaud and Vaudreuil-Dorion all have problems supplying adequate drinking water as well as water to fight fires. So ask them whether they’d go in on a project to draw lakewater to supply everyone. Nobody will have to drill another well. Or boil another kettle of water unless they’re making tea.