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.