Always I’m stating my studied opinion and thinking out loud. Some will say I’m being alarmist; others are more than certain that I’m crazy and only time and how we manage ourselves will determine if the future finds me correct or completely wrong. I’ve never wanted more to be wrong than on this subject, but I find we keep following a self-destructive path and something will force change upon us.
Let’s examine some simplistic reasons why Quebec might wish small municipalities like Hudson to fail or stumble enough that merger is our only sensible or available option. Simply put communities of 5000 citizens can become a real pain in the ass to big government.
It’s not just Quebec; the evidence clearly shows that wherever possible Provincial governments are joining towns to simplify management of many issues. Less points of contact and more homogenized needs to service makes their government of us easier on a day to day basis. The Provinces will argue successfully on the possible efficiency gains and cost savings, but in that spreadsheet process our emotions and attachment to a village heritage don’t get any significant weighting or offsetting value.
Provincial governments get significant pushback and endure legal challenges whenever they force mergers, so it’s my opinion that an unspoken part of the long term strategy to create fewer larger merged towns is to weigh municipalities down with bureaucracy and make it more and more difficult to function correctly at too small a size. Of course they won’t publish such an intention, and perhaps the growth of municipal bureaucracy is just natural government evolution that’s unintentionally crushing small towns.
If we fail to administrate to the required government standards or we eventually need trusteeship, we can’t get grants and maybe even we can’t borrow money from banking channels to finance municipal operations. When we fail to function or govern ourselves, we are no longer qualified to control our own destiny, we can get rolled into a neighbouring community and their life gets simpler.
In my dark and cloudy crystal ball I see Nouveau Hudson becoming an attractive quaint waterfront hamlet within the ever growing municipality of Vaudreuil-Dorion. Hudson would no longer enjoy bilingual status; our failure would surely close that option.
Where Hudson now has six Councillors, Vaudreuil Dorion currently has eight municipal Councillors with about seven times our population. Logically, within V-D, Hudson would have a single municipal Councillor and V-D would have nine Councillors as they’d expand Council to a total of ten because it’s usual to have even numbers with the Mayor breaking ties.
Our administration needs would easily fit within the V-D buildings and systems, immediately saving a few million to build a new Hudson Town Hall. It would be difficult to elect a mayor from Hudson to challenge the longstanding V-D dynasty. V-D is successfully attracting the new hospital, senior’s residences, businesses, schools, and government grants, what’s not to like from an upper government or even citizen’s perspective.
Before you discount my forward scenario, look towards some of the players in V-D politics who are good people successfully building an expanding empire and also look to the incentives that the Provincial government and the MRC would enjoy when Hudson fails.
Honestly, in functional terms we’d be more efficient and have less ability to fight among ourselves, so given enough time and enough new villagers in our Hudson village six story condos, I’m not actually sure that such a merger would be completely terrible as growth would drown out the existing population quickly. Potential developers and builders would surely love the new structure; it seems quite easy to get those things done in V-D.
I’ll ask our blog commentators to tell me what value they’re sure we’d lose and why we maybe should actually stop fighting among ourselves and start fighting to avoid such a future.
I believe that the only way we can save Hudson for Hudson is to find the incentive and ways to actually become a cohesive and very well managed community. Fail to do that and we will fail because our failure has already been pre-planned and we’re executing their plan for our failure almost perfectly.
14 thoughts on “Designed to Fail: Part Deux”
There are 87 MRC’s in the province and 23 municipalities in the Vaudreuil Soulanges MRC. Long have I pondered these contraptions of our provincial government and I firmly believe they were meant to replace the for the most part tiny helter skelter politics of ,for the most part parishes, within the province. Religion based committees with steeples. I am for the most part a despiser of multi-levels of government and would prefer to see the inefficient levels extinct themselves. At this juncture our regional MRC seems more efficient than our stumbling municipal structure. 23 municipalities with a rep from each municipality (elected) and a rep (elected)for each 10 k of population per municipality with a minimum of one per municipality. United States of Vaudreuil Soulanges protected by the Ottawa, the St. Lawrence and the Ontario border. A mighty fortress of purest ideology and we won’t never get old and we won’t never die. Thank you Peter for your patience.
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Who Cares? Who TRULY cares.
The majority of Hudsonites want their town to be well run, responsive to their needs, and respecting our environment and history. If they can get that, the council could sit on the Moon.
The only serious question , if we were part of a larger municipal grouping, is whether the new arrangement would do these tasks better or worse than the current arrangement,
My view is that it would probably be better.
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Thanks Bill. Interesting that you and Brian don’t disagree by that much.
If not enough people care to struggle to survive, we won’t but could simply die slowly and that would not be pretty.
With fewer choices as part of a larger community we’d have a more peaceful existence and fight less among ourselves. If eventual failure to thrive is inevitable should we try to proactively choose our dominant partner from among our neighbours? V-D or St-L?
Being a simple minded elder citizen , municipal status makes no difference towards my understanding of community commitment. I’m a simple lady of a certain age. All I ask is people are nice to each other. If there is a merger, as long as body bags are not part of the process, I ‘m good.
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Elaine I will testify that there is probably not much simple about you except your laser straight unwavering focus on what’s ethical for today and the future and your belief in community which makes you wonderfully complex.
Bill, Rigaud is not a likely candidate for merger as they’re too close in size and a merger between near equals is tougher than a 7:1 ratio with V-D. St. Lazare would be another likely candidate, but if you look at the geographic chunks of V-D along Harwood so joining V-D would streamline a bunch of geography.
Frankly I’m shocked and shamed at the easy acceptance of this eventual merger idea, I expected that suggesting such a thing would be repulsive and raise some passionate ire among the small group here. That shows me that people are somehow starting to write off Hudson as a valuable and viable entity. We have started to lose our self already.
when they won’t respond , and I mean council and adm., on any level of inquiry , then let’s get rid of them. as Bill says if we can put one man on the moon can’t we put this whole adm. there. Hey I’m sounding like Trevor.
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The next election should bring some superb candidates to Hudson municipal elections and help change our future.
I’m hoping that Bill and Brian are both on that list.
Both have run before, we really need them to run again and possibly bring their knowledge and passion to Council.
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Small reminder about provincial politics regarding municipalities. There are 1100 municipalities in the Province of Quebec. And there are 444 municipalities in the Province of Ontario. The population of Quebec is 8,155,334, while in Ontario, it is 13,547,994.
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Thanks for these facts Luc
Doing the math:
The average population of a municipality in Quebec is 7414 and in Ontario it is 30,514.
It’s not easy to be small, so somehow we need to be very efficient and very compliant with upper bureaucracy.
I have a problem with the word “compliant”. I feel that it has a negative sound. It must be my French language that rebels, especially in Hudson where I’m still waiting for the French version of the complete Strategic Plan. To obey the rules does not necessarily mean to be submissive.
For example, most of the small municipalities have problems to cope with provincial regulations concerning firefighting. They cannot deal with the financial burden that security rules impose on them. Should they be defiant and sacrifice the security of the citizens and the firefighters just to be able to control their own diminished firefighting services, although they might be very proud of it? We saw what happened during the terrible tragedy of Isle-Verte in January 2014. There are better ways to manage complex situations without losing its sole. Sometimes, we have to think outside of the artificial boundaries, be it for security reasons, the environment, health, or just the well being of the population.
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Shame on Hudson for not releasing a French version of our Strategic Plan at the same time as the English one.
A primary function of leadership is bringing vision and direction to chaos, immediately behind that is salesmanship because we must have enough believers to make any significant change and change never seems to sell itself.
Wish Luc Hétu would participate more often. His remarks are pointed and always- every single time- thought provoking.
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Compliant implies that we are necessarily subservient to the bureaucracy above our level. Not negative or positive, not submissive or defiant but just the rules we must follow. If we can’t follow them we can’t govern ourselves will be the presumption.
I will try to refrain from specific comments on firefighting, but the past proves that rules are just words without enforcement and enforcement only becomes activated after a failure. Be it Hudson 2005 or Isle-Verte 2014 or Lac Megantic with railroad rules, our society somehow presumes that when we write a rule it will be followed and citizen and firefighters are at risk when these issues are not well managed.
The newer firefighting regulations are again structured better for a regional department than a bunch of scattered municipality departments. The sharing of top level expertise would reduce risks to citizens and firefighters probably at a lower overall cost. This consolidation too shall come to pass with inevitable compaction, certainly hybrid systems of a few full time firefighters and a bunch of volunteer are already popular.