Downtown, downtown update:

 

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Lachute’s year-round covered market greets visitors and residents. A covered market, similar to those found in a growing number of Quebec municipalities, was one of the ideas proposed by former mayor Michael Elliott. The proposal never made it onto the strategic planning list of priorities. Instead, Hudson’s administration is offering the use of town land opposite Thompson Park to a microfarming co-op in exchange for their promise to find a source of water – in the sector that isn’t supplied with town water.

Lachute’s SDC was often cited as an example during discussions about the creation of a Hudson SDC.

Lachute’s SDC was dissolved last year because business owners were fed up with being forced to pay for an organization that existed for the sake of having an SDC. To fill the need, Argenteuil County businesses reactivated an existing Lachute chamber of commerce and turned it into a regional association. Membership is voluntary and inexpensive. A self-employed person pays $115. A business pays $175 regardless of its size. Members receive all the benefits of an association – group insurance, credit card discounts and other benefits accruing from being a part of the provincial Fédération des chambres de commerce du Quebec (FCCQ)

Hudson was offered the opportunity to join the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Chambre de commerce et d’industrie (CCIVS). Among its many services to members: breakfast meetings where new members can present their businesses and all those FCCQ benefits. CCIVS self-finances by hosting a calendar of  events and operating the SAAQ licence and registration bureau on Cité-des-Jeunes. Last year, it cleared more than $400,000 from the SAAQ operation on a total budget of almost $700,000 and posted an operating surplus of over $80,000.

Yes, the CCIVS posts its financial statements online, with statements dating back to 2010. As of this morning, Hudson SDC financial statements are a closely guarded secret in clear violation of the section of Quebec’s Cities and Towns Act pertaining to SDCs.

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40 thoughts on “Downtown, downtown update:

  1. in reply to Downtown, Downtown original posting
    After witnessing and participating in all the hard work for no personal compensation put in by the elected volunteers of the SDC I should be offended by what I consider to be an unfair, uninformed tirade against them but I, not unlike Shakespeare, believe that at times, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.
    I can answer all the critical comments directed at the SDC in this hatchet piece but I don’t have the time, inclination or patience to do so. Like my other favorite quote by author Brendan Behan, I also believe that critics are like eunuchs in a harem that see it preformed every night but are unable and unwilling to do it for themselves.
    There are many sanctimonious Chicken Little’s out there telling everyone that the sky is falling when, in fact, sometimes all we are experiencing is a little mild rain.
    So let me state the following.
    All monies collected by the SDC were used for the benefit of the Hudson Merchants
    A full accounting is presented to the Town of Hudson annually
    All members of the board have earned the right to be there
    All money was collected after a fully legal process
    And last but not least, the two hundred dollars collected is little more than a petty cash disbursement for most Hudson Businesses and if they desire to use the tools supplied to them, it is two hundred dollars well spent.
    I can list all the many achievements, initiatives, accomplishments and aspirations of the SDC but feel I would be talking to deaf ears.
    So, keep on attacking the ones that are trying so hard to do some good in this town because, after all, it is much easier to criticize than to contribute.
    Instead of looking for the boogeyman in the SDC, the town administration or the mayor and council maybe, just maybe, you should consider looking in the mirror.
    Frank Hicks

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      1. The facts are all my business taxes since I started here in 2003 were paid in full. If you want to slander my name with members of the Duff fan club please try to get your facts straight because from what I see you are doing a miserable job of that.

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      2. Frank, you still haven’t countered a single one of the facts I presented concerning the SDC’s legitimacy. Here’s what I propose:
        That the SDC post or make available to anyone all financial statements and AGM minutes since its inception;
        Explain how it can continue to receive monies collected on its behalf by this administration when it can’t achieve a voting quorum.
        The rules are the rules, sir. Provincial regulations demand that the SDC provide an accounting. Bluster doesn’t replace transparency.

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  2. You would know more about bluster than I would .We have supplied an accounting to those that matter, the town of Hudson and interested SDC members that cared enough about them to attend the financial meetings. This is my last reply on this subject to you sir. I have better things to do with my time than cater to your whims, It’s been cold here lately and we need all the hot air you can supply so blog on,

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    1. Just as I reported. The SDC hasn’t achieved a voting quorum for at least two years so no longer has the right under the Cities and Towns Act to receive and spend monies collected on its behalf from Hudson businesses. The town refers my requests for financial statements to the SDC. The SDC refuses to provide any accounting as to how it spent $80,000 over the last four years. Something rotten there, Frank.

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  3. Frank, there are some obvious questions regarding what quantifiable boost the SDC has given Hudson’s retail sector and that is all anyone would want in order to evaluate the efficacy of the initiative. Business deals with numbers and returns on investment so at some point there has to be a “come to Jesus” moment and a judgement as to what has worked or failed. No one is questioning the initiator’s motives (SDC) or loyalty to Hudson just the results. If it didn’t work so be it and back to a drawing board.

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    1. Brian, if the issue was simply one of whether the SDC members get $200 a year’s worth out of their SDC, it would be up to them to decide (Facebook, where almost all their advertising takes place, is free). The real issue is whether the SDC executive meets the legal requirements imposed by its own charter and the Cities and Towns Act articles which created it. If the current executive was not legally formed, the town has no legal basis on which to collect that $200 and turn it over to the SDC. And the SDC has no legal right to spend it. Anyone can verify anything I post by following my research. According to the Registre des enterprises du Quebec, Hicks is neither a director nor an administrator of the Hudson SDC and can’t be because he no longer operates a business in Hudson’s core. Diane Piacente never has, making her presidency illegal.
      I’m not questioning good intentions or imputing motives. Nor is this about $200, or whether we should just give from petty cash. This is about the legitimacy of a tax, the same issue westenders fought for. You’ll recall the outrage over a former mayor’s suggestion that Hudsonites are ready to ‘bend a little.’ Who should decide when the rules that govern us should bend a little?

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    2. Brian I appreciate both your honest comment and sincere opinion but I must question your claim that,” No one is questioning the initiator’s motives (SDC) or loyalty to Hudson.” Some people seem to enjoy slinging accusations of wrongdoing and corruption where none exist and more often than not they get away with it. Jim even went so low as to try to insinuate that I hadn’t paid my Hudson business taxes but he failed to verify his erroneous phantom source. Approximately 70% of the businesses in this town pay all their business taxes and I am proud to say I have always stood among those that have taken this responsibility seriously. Can Mr. Duff say the same thing? Our treasurer Terri MacFarlane is away right now but when she returns shortly I would be happy to let you come in and review our books to verify that no board member in any way benefited from funds collected, and that all funds were used and are being used for the benefit of the commercial core.
      The commercial core of this town has tried for years to have a solid working business association and time after time they have all failed because of lack of participation by its members. Everyone is gung-ho when they start but then fall away as time, energy and the need for real participation is demanded of them.
      The SDC has been around for a record four years now and it had a tough breaking in period but once things got underway it progressed nicely.
      As how do we contribute?
      -Mr. Duff states quite correctly that face book and web sites are free but what isn’t free is all the work required to promote them, set them up and monitor them. I guess that part of the equation just skipped his mind. The SDC Facebook has proven very successful in promoting all town businesses that have used it to their advantage.
      -The Christmas fair every year takes time and a great deal of effort to promote, acquire gifts, decorative items and entertainment. This fair has been growing bigger and better over the years
      – The town wide garage sale organized to bring more people into town and to promote this town requires time, advertising, design graphics , signs etc. All co-ordinated with the town and the SDC.
      – The SDC has sponsored over its years many of the events that have successfully promoted this town,
      – The SDC has updated and modernized the business directory of the town. A simple task requiring a great deal of effort since the existing directory was so outdated I believe it was engraved on stone tablets.
      – The SDC produced and distributed a new town business directory and town map
      – the SDC distributed Flags to all merchants on both major holidays
      – members of the SDC worked diligently on the production of. “Le petite Seduction,” and it was through their efforts and the efforts of many more good volunteers that Hudson got the best Canada wide promotion it ever had and was named one of the best town’s to live in.
      I can go on and on but I to what avail.
      All of the above was accomplished with a board made up of dedicated part time volunteers with diminishing resources.
      If you want to kill the SDC then be my guest, It will allow me more free time, take away resources that have been and continue to be used effectively, kill any future initiative planned by the SDC and set the business community, that Mr, Duff once again, rightly states I am no longer part off but still care about , on the road to possible future failures.
      Just one more non-paying at times high stress job I will not have be concerned about losing.

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      1. To those following this thread, it would gladden my heart if the SDC’s turnouts were sufficient to form a legal quorum to elect a legally constituted board. People should know that Former Gazette publisher Louise Craig got the SDC ball rolling with help of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges CLD. She and others spent two years putting together the SDC’s legal framework and worked with the town to ensure all was done according to the articles of the Cities and Towns Act. But once the SDC was up and running, it became clear some saw it as a hobbyhorse for their personal interests, rather than as an organization dedicated to the greater good of the business community.
        My post asks straightforward questions that should pose no problem to a publicly funded and mandated organization. The reaction would lead most people to wonder whether there’s something to hide. Why the secrecy, the refusal to open the books, the defensiveness?
        There’s a bigger issue. It’s this administration’s determination to load the commercial core with taxes and tariffs that will strangle what little remains. Water meters are the last straw.
        Does anyone care if Sobey’s closes the Hudson IGA and moves it up next to Mon Village? One less reason to shop local.

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  4. We have a long history of wasting money and efforts without result. We spent $35K on the badly done photo copied boilerplate Archer consultants report and have not implemented any significant changes in well over a decade. Our uniside walks are still a significant danger to seniors and others.

    To me the issue is not the validity of the SDC or the $200 per merchant. The SDC should report publicly on efforts and financials, transparency is a good start.

    And the SDC needs to publicly report on recommendations to council for an improved downtown core and acceptable levels of taxation. It is, after all, funded by the businesses and not the town, so it should be openly constructively critical of anything that endangers the survival of commerce in Hudson. I don’t recall an SDC drive to improve the awareness of the needs to improve the downtown core, and can’t imaging how you purport to support businesses without doing that.

    The real issue for me is a run-down town core with crumbling sidewalks and not enough parking to develop new buildings and no clear plan to renovate and renew it. We make Hudson a much harder place to invest in than it should be and fail to bring enough local shopping or outside traffic to allow a desirable boutique shopping experience worth the drive.

    Having the SDC provides a comfortable illusion that something positive is being done, but all the best efforts of volunteer leaders can’t overcome the high costs of taxation and doing business in a place that is no longer a significant destination for external shoppers and diners.

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  5. Jim and Peter , I don’t really have any knowledge about the SDC and its financial , strategic , or legal workings. Hell , I don’t even know what that acronym stands for. All I know is that our downtown core is functionally obsolete , a layout that fell into place on an ad hoc basis as each need arose , I guess like every small town. My peeve is that we pay over $500K per year on a planning department who don’t plan at all and treat each new project as a mutually exclusive exercise with wide-eyed confusion. I doubt the SDC has any interaction with Nathalie Lavoie and her by-law storm troopers. So as much as I sympathize with retailers and there $200 “tax” i am more concerned right now with how my $5500 property taxes will be squandered and so should my fellow 2700 taxpayers. When all else fails i revert to selfish self interest and preservation , sort of a bastardized Ann Randian philosophy

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    1. All true. As you may now have gathered, I obsess over principles. It doesn’t matter how much is being stolen, it’s all about how it happened. The best intentions end up spawning the worst abuses.

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  6. No town or city can last forever without becoming inconvenient or obsolete. That’s why planning departments are supposed to exist, to maintain the best possible fit between the times and the available resources.

    I’ve long felt that our planning department has been badly managed by the people of Hudson. For $500K per year we should have a library full of ideas for consideration, some great. What we’ve had is a senseless directionless bureaucracy that lacks future vision and makes change difficult.

    Then there’s the issue that no one can agree to a plan that respects the fiscal realities and makes changes required to remain functional within the realm of the possible.

    Ayn Rand saw this coming decades ago, she tried to warn us.

    Don’t begin to get me started on the layers of bureaucracy we endure that gives us engineering consultants making simple projects expensive and a lowest bidder snow clearing like the village streets this year. I’ve never seen narrower plowed widths and we’re only in January. By March 1, we’ll need to authorize a tender for one-way signs for the village because cars won’t be able to pass each other. I’m pretty sure they were the lowest bidder because they only planned to clear 75% of what the last more local company did.

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    1. Lowest and only , Peter. Seems no one wanted us. I sort of like the snow covered look of the side streets especially after I read the today’s Nat’l Post article about how salt destruction of our infrastructure is bankrupting our cities. At least our salt consumption’s down , better for our health. Ask Jim!

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      1. Well, we could launch agribusinesses to produce less destructive road salt alternatives like beer juice and cheese brine. I’ve always been a proponent of infrastructure-friendly foods.
        Anyway, I saw Guy Pilon and his lady walking in Hudson. I’m guessing he’s not about to show his hand even if VD is interested in a merger.

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  7. Hi Frank, I was at a gathering last night of some TPAC alumni from the mists of time. A member whose judgment I trust quietly stated she had found the SDC’s directories and Facebook site quite handy so as a someone (me) who knows nothing of its doings the testimonial was timely and persuasive. I can’t help thinking maybe your missive wasn’t directed just at me. It would be the first time anyone has asked me to review financial documents and if it was directed at me I would ask if you are unwell. I view columns of numbers as attacking monsters and I run for cover. I wanted only to point out that success must be quantifiable to justify on-going operations. As to the legality of the SDC’s inside doings. I would hope any shortfalls there would not interrupt what might help the Town.

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  8. Jim I think with your expansive knowledge of Hudson you really should run for council or mayor. You know sitting by the sidelines and criticizing is the easy part.. As an elective official you have the power to effect real change. As for myself I know I made a big difference while holding public office and hold my head high. My parents taught me well as far as doing the right thing no matter how unpleasant and I’ve tried to teach my kids the same. Please refrain from attaching the word “illegal” next to my name. My husband takes my reputation even more seriously than I do. I am not the President, duly elected by the board. I am the Interim President named by the board members which I accepted after a lot of arm twisting. Unfortunately, as I am sure you are aware, Hudson business owners are vocal but only a select few actually step up to do the work that has to be done – and somebody has to do it it will not get done by itself. I did not want nor need a job but accepted because the people who do participate including the board members who devote a lot of time away from their private and business life, didn’t deserve to be let down. When our treasurer (Terri MacFarlane of Decor Serenity) is back from vacation, don’t wait for me I’m not back for months yet. Your point about the SDC having a say in the “beautification” of Hudson, that would have been greatt. Let’s just say when that committee was formed, Frank Hicks put up his hand but strangely he was never called for meetings. He would have been a great representative of the SDC. There is an old saying, I’m not sure how it goes, as don’t forget I grew up French — “If you want to get rid of something – ignore it, put spokes in the wheels, don’t fund it, etc.” well that is exactly what this council has done as the SDC didn’t quite fit in with the Strategic Plan of focusing on the Arts, the Centre and Eco-trolleys. You also mention the bringing in of the non-residential tax rate.. I would be hard pressed to find fault with the amount of increase which was roughly 5Cents over the residential rate. You know full well that if you check surrounding towns the non-residential property tax rate is double and even triple the residential rate. You may not like how the sewer and water bills are meted out. Well there was a committee of long standing business owners which met with Ron Goldenberg I believe last year and council came up with what you have now. Were you at this committee? Our biggest battle to date has been getting the town to collect the fees of $200.00. You have your own opinion about whether an SDC should exist and I disagree with you but it is what it is and the members ONLY are the ones to dismantle it with a register and if needed, by a referendum. A chamber of Commerce like the Vaudreuil Soulanges is something the SDC wanted to join this year, not individual businesses but as an SDC. You mention Louise Craig setting up the SDC. Not to my recollection. I met with Julien Turcotte when he was newly elected Director General back in 2009 just after I was elected to council and he came to Hudson and met with council. He suggested many things, all costing money which council at the time, and it seemed to be the reaction for all things past. It’s going cost money. Well we ended up with a part-time, temporary, paid for by the CLD, coordinator who went around and met all the business owners. “Organize the businesses first” they said, well that’s what we did. It’s very nice to talk about achievements and how we should do more but we’ve never had the luxury of knowing where our next dollar what coming from, or I should say if and when. In spite of the “barreaux dans les roues” that we were forever encountering, either from council or the revolving door administration, or the little cliques who didn’t want to work with the majority – hey, little cliques are fine, as long as you’re in it! I sincerely doubt a Chamber of Commerce would do anything to strengthen shop local while we will concentrate on specifically that in 2017. One last note, you put down the Archer report. Seems to me every time someone tries to do something, whether it was the Corker administration who spent the money to have professionals do a marketing analysis, or an SDC run by volunteers, you find fault. Like I said in my opening sentence. I think it’s time to get off the sidelines and run for council. You might be able to make some positive changes. I, and many others, have done their bit now perhaps it’s your turn.

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  9. Must say now that it out on the table, D.P posted a decent point. Why not run for a spot in one position or another, Jim. ? Not my town, not my circus but think you’d do a good job.

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    1. Good questions and comments. My reply is in a blog post. Lone wolves might not be the best leadership and being outside may have more value.

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  10. Frank Hicks, it would be exceedingly easy for someone to be offended by or take personally such an unfocussed and randomly directed common mudslinger slander.

    If you can credibly disagree with someone’s opinion by responding respectfully with facts I have no problems paying attention.

    If you don’t I have absolutely no problem ignoring such comments as discrediting the writer far more than the nebulous intended recipient.

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  11. Peter, I respect you and your family greatly but when talking about unfocussed and randomly directed common mudslinger slander, take a good look at how this blog site fares in that regard with unproven allegations against the SDC and me personally. I read the hatchet job directed against us and knowing that this blog site was full of site supporters and knowing that the site can print ,delete . or distort my views in any way it see’s fit I still decided to answer anyway. I saw it as an unfair fight but one I should not back down from because my integrity, honestly and devotion to this town was questioned. Do as you will with my reply but when unjustifiably attacked I will not back down. Peter the reason you have my respect is because you fight for what you believe in without resorting to unproven and slanderous mudslinging.

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  12. The best point I can make at this juncture is that Hudson’s problems are really not about little things like $20K for the SDC, which $20K should logically be transparently accounted for in full public view, but that many such small issues each serve to divide us into small and often antagonistic to each other groups that distract from the really big issues where we waste huge amounts to little purpose or delay our future.

    We’ve lost our community glue of shared vision and purpose and while we love out town I can’t imagine many are proud of its current state.

    Just fix it, my new town motto.

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  13. in Latin for the logo it’s: Sicut reficere (Just fix it)

    To replace the outdated Noblesse Obilge which literally translated means Nobility Obliges and somehow seems quite pretentious given our current state of disrepair.

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  14. My Latin comes from my old alter boy days when I was required to recite the mass in Latin. I personally like vincit omnia veritas meaning truth conquers all things and the truth is the SDC has always been transparent with the town administration, which is supposed to represent all town citizens and with all the members that cared enough to attend our well announced if not well attended financial meetings. We all share the same goals and I agree we should be working together and not apart but it was not I that fired the first shot . There are issues with this town and I am just as concerned about as you are Eg. legal fees, employee hiring’s and firings, the Pine lake issue, high taxes, water, development, transparency ( within legal restraints), roads, debt, having qualified elected officials willing to work for the low wages provided, clean streets, strengthening the downtown core. tourist trade, high commercial rents and unfair assessment of taxes among so many other items.
    I haven’t given up hope and feel positive about our future and I also believe in watchdogs providing they select their prey carefully and take care not to attack the innocent.

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  15. Shame on me for not opening this page over the last couple of days. That took 43 minutes to read. Every last comment analyzed, some read two or three times. Several with tones that raised my eyebrow on occasion. But what do I know? I do know, is that there is not a single one amongst you commenting that do not love this town of ours. Not one of you. I hear Jim’s discouraged voice narrating and Frank’s quick retort at what may have seemed as a slight, or a question deeper than I care to explore. Peter, Brian, Diane, Frank & Jim……. we are all striving for the same thing-; a revived and vibrant town. Hudson, a Hudson that we can all be proud to call home (adopted home for me) once again. How can we harness all of this energy and passion towards the ultimate goal? For one, we need to keep doing what we do. Pay attention to what is going on around us the best we can and use our voices when we believe there has been an injustice or any unfair undertaking against us or our fellow citizens and business people. Get involved however we can. Speak out, join a committee (if you’ll be had), but most of all remain vigilant and keep sharing the wealth of knowledge, history, experience, talent, smarts and passion each and every one of you possess. We must not be divided, not now. A time when we need to be united and help our community leaders understand what the people of this town want and need. If our small group (the ones who do our best to not only attend every damn town meeting possible, but also to be heard when we feel the need to voice our opinion) start to fragment and turn against each other, Hudson is in serious trouble. I beg of you all to take a deep breath, convince yourself of what your objective was when you wrote what you wrote, and do the right thing for this community. Hudson deserves that. And I also ask that you all consider what side of the microphone you believe you will have the most impact. If any of you think you have the time and thick skin to support a run at council, or even mayor, please do so this coming November. Hudson needs each one of you in one way or another. And I mean each one of you. Please, let us not divide because of SDC’s, territorial taxes, sewage systems, water, businesses etc. I firmly believe that everyone of you that have taken your time to comment have already, and will continue to add to the value of our great community.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Beautifully and wisely said Daren. I fully agree with every word with one small addendum, we must always be vigilant and ensure that in our fervor to fight injustice we never cross the line to where we ourselves become unjust. We are all human and therefore flawed and sometimes we are so enamored with our sense of justice and the sound of our own voice that we lash out and possibly destroy without due diligence being taken, This applies to me as well as anyone else it and when we do so it waters down our true message and can cause needless pain.
      Question definitely- Accuse blindly never
      Words I try to live by, but have been known to slip up on from time to time.

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    1. I guess our den-mother has wisely suggested we stop wrestling and get back to serious work. Men will always be boys, immaturity is just programmed into our genetics, we can’t help ourselves.

      Liked by 1 person

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