Waiting for Bill 122

Warning: some elected officials may find this dangerously boring. Do not attempt to understand while doing anything which requires wakefulness.img_0798

Bill 122 was introduced in Quebec’s National Assembly Dec. 6, “an Act mainly to recognize that municipalities are local governments and to increase their autonomy and powers.”

When it is adopted sometime in 2017, it will give Quebec’s 1,600 municipalities broader powers over urban planning, including zoning. It will change how municipalities are allowed to ask for the 10% greenspace requirement for a proposed subdivision. It will govern how municipalities plan their spending priorities. It will lay down tough new freedom-of-information and fiscal reporting requirements.

It will make public consultation a cornerstone of development policy.

Municipalities will no longer be required to post public notices in local newspapers. Instead, they will face tougher transparency requirements, including the obligation to post every public document on a municipal website.

Once Bill 122 is adopted, municipalities will have far greater autonomy over zoning and development. Section 85.5 deals with a new word, requalification. A municipality may identify requalification zones in its planning policy, where redevelopment such as densification or urban renewal wouldn’t require a rezoning bylaw subject to referendum. Until Bill 122, a municipality wishing to direct development or renewal had to adopt a plan particuler d’urbanisme, or PPU. Vaudreuil-Dorion used a PPU to bigfoot opponents to the sunless canyons on de la Gare. L’Île-Perrot used a PPU to rehabilitate Grand and Perrot Blvds., but in both cases all it required was Quebec’s blessing.

Here’s what the new law says (boldface type and quotation marks denote exerpts lifted verbatim from the draft bill’s English version available on the National Assembly website):

Every municipality that wishes to avail itself of the power provided
for in section 85.5 shall first adopt an information and consultation policy.
The policy must contain measures that are complementary to those in this
Act and are designed to foster public participation and the dissemination of
information. The policy must enable the public to make comments or
suggestions, orally or in writing, and provide for dissemination of information via the Internet.
The policy must also provide for the production of a consultation report and
its tabling before the council of the municipality.
The Minister may, by regulation, fix any other requirement concerning the
content of an information and consultation policy.
The policy applies, throughout the territory of the municipality, to any
amendment or revision of the planning program. 
Every municipality that wishes to amend or revise its zoning or
subdivision by-law in a way that significantly modifies the standards applicable
in a territory situated within a requalification zone must first produce and make
public an analysis of the probable social, economic and environmental effects
of these new standards. The analysis must draw a connection between the
modifications and the directions and objectives contained in the planning
program.

Another major change governs the 10% greenspace requirement from developers.

The rules must also take into account, in favour of the owner, any transfer
or payment made previously in respect of all or part of the site.”
[…] The municipality may require the
transfer of land whose surface area is greater than 10% of the surface area of
the site if the land in respect of which the subdivision or building permit is
applied for is situated within a central sector of the municipality and if all or
part of the immovable is green space. […] If the municipality requires both
the transfer of land and the payment of a sum, the amount paid must not exceed 10% of the value of the site.
The council shall, by by-law, determine the boundaries of the central sectors
of the municipality and define what constitutes green space for the purposes
of the third paragraph.

Bill 122 also imposes stricter fiscal reporting requirements on municipalities. For example, a municipality’s treasurer must submit to Quebec by May 15:
– a financial report;
– the chief auditor’s report;
– the external auditor’s report.
Any revisions must be tabled at the next public council meeting. Moreover, “the treasurer shall table two comparative statements at the last regular
sitting of the council held at least four weeks before the sitting at which the
budget for the following fiscal year is to be adopted.”

Municipalities will be forced to clean up their procedural act. No longer will they be able to present a notice of motion of a proposed bylaw, then adopt said bylaw later in the same meeting.

Every by-law must, on pain of nullity [declared null and void],
be preceded by a notice of motion and a draft by-law tabled at a sitting
of the council and be adopted at a subsequent sitting held on a later day.
The notice of motion and the draft by-law may be tabled at the same sitting
or at separate sittings, but the draft by-law may not precede the notice of
motion.

Finally, Bill 122 will make Quebec the final arbiter in determining “what information every municipality is required to disseminate in an open document format on a storage medium so that it can be reused.

The regulation must set out the terms governing the dissemination of such
information, which terms may vary according to the different classes of
municipalities.”

When will Bill 122 be adopted? We don’t know. The Couillard government and Quebec’s two major municipal associations have been trumpeting its virtues for the past year but it could take another year before it becomes law.

In the meantime, the old rules apply. Municipalities should keep this in mind before attempting to justify policy changes based on legislation yet to be adopted.

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35 thoughts on “Waiting for Bill 122

  1. I’ve made my case many times that Quebec does not want small municipalities, and in our case especially a small municipality with bilingual status.

    I fear the consultation, documentation burden and required bureaucracy to install and maintain that grows well beyond what a community of 5,100 souls can afford to bear or stay in compliance with.

    In general laws like this seem designed to allow Quebec to declare us out of conformity almost at will or a time of their choosing, even if they have tolerated relative non-conformity for years.

    Is there a way to simply say “enough, we can’t handle this or comply with it and have no intention to even try?” If not, then we’re well and truly screwed over coming years.

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  2. Peter, I’ve studied the bill and weighed the ramifications for Hudson. Under the right leadership, this can be a win-win for Hudson and its taxpayers. It requires a critical mass of citizenry to agree on the basics. In my discussions with people, the basics seem to boil down to everybody’s willingness to pay for services for everybody else.
    Hudson has been divided and conquered for so long, we’ve forgotten what it feels like to agree on a common goal. Your ‘Just Fix It.’ is the logical starting point. Along with knowing Quebec’s rules and how they can be fairly, expediently applied to everyone.
    If citizens would rather fight over who pays for what, Hudson will drift rudderless and engineless until it fetches up on the next shoal.
    I believe there are Hudson residents with the wisdom and charisma needed to restart the engine, reinstall the rudder, consult Quebec’s sailing directions and set a new course.

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    1. I’ve always been in the camp that saw the 30/70 , 70/30 split on sewer and water contributions as beneficial to my Town. I’ve also seen how Diane and Daren have very strong points on the cost of installation and upkeep of private wells and sewer systems and the why of how they do not want to pay on top for services they do not receive. On top of that they are now harangued by our bylaw enforcers to empty their septic tanks every 2 years at $300-400 and in the case of eco-flows and bio-nests (which are pretty much the standard in new systems these days) to have annual $500 inspections . This on top of the initial installation costs of $50000 avg. for their water and septic which might be expected to last 30 years. I am surprised the Town has not mandated a water quality inspection of their wells at their cost. It may yet come. The capitalized and expense yearly sum of these private systems approaches $4000 w/o inevitable malfunction repair costs. Hard to stay filled with brotherly love and citizen duty in the face of what they pay.

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      1. We just have to replace the peat in our ecoflow. Cost? $1800 plus taxes. The town should call our section of town “RURAL”, even though the urban perimeter goes all the way to Montée Lavigne on town’s map. Which town do you know of that has no water in their “urban” perimeter? Maybe the could get grants under the “rural” government programs. It’s a thought! And, yes, I test my water, I value my health. $65.00 for twice yearly tests (as per government suggestions), Spring and Fall, and $300-400 for each test of mineral content. Isn’t the town vigilant about testing potable water for their citizens? Of course, as it’s mandated by provincial law actually. We are the forgotten 80 homes in the west end. that the town doesn’t care about. Not one line anywhere in their “wonderful” strategic plan does it even whisper “water for the west end”, so don’t insult me with arts centres, art-etudes programs, eco-trollies and more events to bring more people into town. Start taking care of us, the taxpayers. You don’t keep throwing fancy dinner parties for guests when you can’t afford to feed your kids!

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      2. Diane, you posted while I was replying to Brian. Yes, the town has a moral and legal obligation under Bylaw 504 to connect every door to town water or help subsidize an alternative. The West End will be supplied when the town makes the inevitable decision to draw its water from the lake. This will happen whatever local politics pretends.
        Every household with a septic tank eventually will face the replacement dilemma. Kilteevan and Hazelwood residents bit that bullet. Trail proposed a sewer deal for residents of Birch Hill, Brisbane and upper and Lower Whitlock but taxpayers balked at the price. I hear many would like to revisit that decision as their ancient ecoflo systems fail.
        All this to say Hudson residents have to start thinking as a collective, rather than a bunch of feuding siloed neighbourhoods. This is my challenge to everyone, Diane.

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      3. Maybe I’ve not made my thoughts clear. The town has an obligation to connect every household to municipal water. We know this can be done for the west end via a line from the Hudson Valleys/Alstonvale wells, both of which are already connected to the filtration plant.
        That includes every address from the foot of Macaulay Hill to the town line, including households currently paying $350 annually for substandard water from Rigaud.
        Use that same loan bylaw and federal/provincial funding to build Hudson’s new lakewater intake and treatment plant so we can service eventual densification east of the corner of Lower Alstonvale and Main and provide the community with an alternative to well water.

        As for sewage costs, why are you turning this into a debate over who has the most expensive, trouble-prone septic tank? Our home is served by a grandfathered Ecoflo system near the end of its life. I would like nothing better than to connect to the sewer system instead of being forced to replace it with something a lot more expensive and trouble-prone. I know from talking with SRS I’m not alone. The 1,500 doors not on the sewer system are all in the same boat. I can assure you everyone’s sewage stinks the same.

        My point is that every Hudson taxpayer has skin in the game, so let’s find a solution everyone can get behind. Otherwise, why doesn’t Hudson Heights secede from Hudson under the same terms it merged under in 1969? Why doesn’t Alstonvale demerge from Hudson Heights? How about Choisy joining Rigaud? Como climbing into bed with VD? C’mon, Brian, you know there’s a solution. All it takes is the political will to find it.

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  3. Jim you’re correct. Hudson wastes time, energy, money and progress by lack of direction and insufficient understanding of finances and governments towns answer to.

    We were slow adopters of MRC when it was inevitable. What Hudson is going through is completely logical. When a town proves insufficient management and oversight, there must be rules to handcuff it to doing nothing until the citizens have a clear definition of future direction.

    It forces one of two methods. We can study the rules, play the game as laid out and we can benefit from higher government assistance and structure. Or we can ignore and deny the rules and die a slow and painful death by a thousand cuts as we run afoul of the regulations.

    We need to plan a future from the sum of the possibilities of our current fiscal situation, including our infrastructure deficit in the plans, and somehow we need to keep growth of taxation to a reasonable level.

    Example: I disagree with funding repaving via long term debts. This because maintenance is an operating cashflow issue and we’ve been paying significant taxes with insufficient paving being done. To repair our roads is a 15-20 year project where we budget 4-5% repaving per year. Trying to fund it over 5 years with long term debt will handcuff our borrowing options for major improvements, as well as our ability to get grants (our debt levels will be too high).

    Long term debt should fund new infrastructure, major complete rebuilds and initiatives that add value to the entire community. Those projects should get government grants if the rest of our house is in order.

    I hope you can somehow find a charismatic pragmatist who doesn’t need to be liked short term to steer the ship called Hudson. There are difficult waters ahead and everyone needs to paddle in one direction.

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    1. Bang on with your comments on road replacing, Peter. Decent, safe streets and sidewalks should be a given, not a goal. While other Quebec municipalities are debating the merits of 3,000 versus 4,000-kelvin LED streetlights, Hudson struggles to find which of its dim, inefficient and expensive sodium vapour lamps need replacing. I walked out of last night’s council meeting feeling sad for the town where I choose to live.

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  4. At personal risk, I remain baffled at the lack of acceptance and ongoing complaining of some owners of the rural nature of the property they bought or built in the more rural parts of Hudson, probably partly for the purpose of isolation or exclusivity. They didn’t have those services when you bought them. I’m ready to declare this part of Hudson the Whinery Sector.

    Water yes, you’re absolutely correct. An administration said we would water the west end to make a big project happen and then the same administration backed out on the deal when costs went up. You got screwed, but not by the citizens at large, by engineering companies who didn’t properly estimate the project and an administration reluctant to borrow more money.

    But you’re no worse off than when you moved there. I believe that we must solve that water problem when we solve the water supply problem for all of Hudson, which is why I have proposed Thompson Park as an intake point that could supply the west end of town with a small or medium (our wells could become non-productive with more time) treatment plant so we can directly supply water to west end and also to the existing town wide system.

    Sewers probably never economically feasible. Waterfront and some soil conditions require higher cost septic systems, those costs were surely obvious or should have been brought to your attention in due diligence when you moved there. Nothing the town has done has disadvantaged you on septic issues from the time you moved.

    Want sewers, there’s a village home waiting for you with free 3am loud exhaust symphonies when the Chateau Shellac empties out.

    Birch Hill, from some residents I’ve spoken to and tried to mobilize, would be an uphill battle to get the residents to pay for sewers. They’d need to overcome the objections of neighbors to get approval for that whole sector’s new debt to install sewers. Many of the septic systems have been replaced at great expense and connecting a sewer makes some significant cost to landscaping and piping. If the pipe goes out the back, the sewer line is in front and you’ve got a finished basement the costs can exceed $20K from one resident I spoke to. Perhaps a trench through the back yards to pipe it up would be the best solution.

    Of more importance and actually possible to connect is the Village above Lakeview, much of it by gravity feed without adding pumping stations. There are still cess pools on some homes, no matter how often you pump they still stink in the summer. We don’t seem to be able to compel those owners to replace, but banks won’t lend without a septic system so when the longstanding resident eventually moves on they will have to replace to sell.

    We’ve got more problems than money, we’re not going to get grants until we have operating budgets that fix existing infrastructure deficits and anyone who believes otherwise is smoking something yet to be legalized.

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    1. Peter, I’m all for the 30/70 split as soon as it works both ways. And yes, we knew moving to the countryside we would need to fend for our own water and sewage. We just didn’t realize we’d be expected to contribute to everyone else’s in the village. I’m getting a mixed message in that you agree that we got screwed, but at the same time you expect us to be ok with it? Why would anyone be ok with it? One thing was presented, agreed and then changed without telling anybody! But only after everything was signed and done! Come on. I was of the impression you were pulling towards an all for one and one for all scenario. Whiney Sector? Really? I’m curious to know how you’d feel if there was an extra line on your taxes to pay for my well, my softener, my water treatment, my backup generator to run my pump during power outages, my electricity, my water line repairs, my water upgrades etc. I’d even be willing to give you a glass of water if you happened to be cycling by on a hot day as part of your compensation for contributing.
      I take offense to the Whiney Sector comment as I truly believed you to be a fair and honest man and that comment is very disrespectful towards those of us willing to stand up not only for our rights but also the laws and standards we live to. I take this as a personal slight as Diane and I are the only people willing to invest the time and energy required to ensure that we and our neighbors are treated fairly. Essentially you are referring to me as a whiner and I think that is unfair.
      And by the way, there is nothing in place for us west enders to get our compensation because apparently it doesn’t work that way as I have been told on several occasions by different mayors and councils. But people like you seem to think it’s ok to work in the other direction with us have nots contributing a portion to the systems for those that have the services.
      Time to move away from this subject as what had been wronged was corrected. Some people just can’t seem to get over it regardless of how much of a non-brainer it is.
      The other option is to help us get the damn municipal water line installed if you truly believe we are all equal as Hudsonites.

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  5. Christ Jim , what’s with the hyperbole , you sound like you’re stumping. Nobody said anything about demerging and remerging. I was pragmatically referencing the costs of living off grid and being asked to pay for the general upkeep of the Town as a whole. I said I was fine with paying a 30/70 split of water and sewer (as per Corker) But part of reasoning out a solution is to find a compromise that will also suit the pipeless. Read what I said instead of jumping on things you’re taking out of context. You can’t ram this brave new world Mother Theresa crap down people’s throats while whining about commercial water rates and the SDC.

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  6. I’ll put both our prods down to keeping things lively . Anyway I’m not so big on kind and reasonable. I’ll go to Chloe’s site if I need that. And I’m sure Frank will be along in a minute to put things in perspective.

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  7. Excuse me Peter! Your quote “you knew those services were not available when you bought” Really??? and you know this how, were you there? We built in 2006 and were told by the urban department when we went for our permit, that the water was coming to the west end. It’s a basic question before you build no? Wish I had gotten it in writing, actually, everyone got it in writing, did they not, in the form of By-Law 504? Do you really think this project and by-law took only a month to put together? No, years in the making and the town knew the water line would be extended. We figured we’d put in a well and could always use it later for landscaping when we connected the house to the water line. We already had a surface well and a deep well just outside Knowlton on our 200 acre farm. Having a well was certainly not knew to us but getting promised something and not getting it is a different matter. Especially after you’re plunking down a million+ on a home. I am insulted when you can me whiney. We spent $4,000 of our own money getting a legal opinion as to the legality of charging someone for a service they were not getting or couldn’t possibly get. .Jurisprudence is on the books to confirm that is so, not people chasing windmills and people who think they know it all. It’s good enough for me to take it to court if the town tries that again with the excuse that I should be generous. It’s not the first time I have stood up for principle and you know what? fighting for justice or principle is expensive, troublesome and might lose you some friends but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. You insinuate that we are cheap because we don’t want to subsidize people who do have the service? You are way off base, yes, lucky you who have water when you turn on your tap. Stop slinging and concentrate instead on finding good candidates to run in the next election, people with humility and common sense willing to speak to past councillors, mayors, former TPAC members, you name it, whoever would have something to offer to help them on the right track. A lot of great candidates like their life and are away enjoying warm weather in the winters.

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    1. With the $186,000 approved Monday, the Town topped the $500,000 mark in legal fees for the last 11 months. Anyone who threatens to unleash lawyers, including thin-skinned elected officials, automatically loses the argument and disqualifies themselves from any bid for public office. If we can’t discuss and negotiate without legal pit bulls at our side, Hudson will only get more fractious. Is that what citizens want? I don’t think so. Why not concentrate on a solution instead of wasting energy snarling and snapping? I risk being declared a stumping Pollyanna by Brian but I’ve been called worse. Diane, all I ask from everyone is the same respect for law. The town promised to deliver water to the west end as a condition for the approval for Bylaw 504. The town has to deliver on that promise, period. The town’s task is to honour that agreement. This should be a bedrock precondition for anyone to be elected or reelected.

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      1. Diane did her due diligence. Put the axe away Jim. I believe you are currently fighting a fight over a tax you are being charged for which you feel you gain no benefit. At least Diane has taken her time and money to get accurate information and guidance versus those of us who choose to assume. Me included.

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  8. Water and sewers are two different subjects.

    Frankly, I don’t know the exact timing, but I presume that the bylaw to do the water extension was in place and the project timeline implied you’d have have town water?

    Some sewers in certain areas planned were cancelled and the extension of town water to the west end was cancelled. I’m not sure that those changes to project scope were implemented properly, but we were mid project with cost overruns and the administration at the time reacted as they saw fit.

    Your construction timing was unfortunate and you might have a case that Hudson should have paid for your well, but surely the legal fees to recoup that would exceed the cost of the well. My comments were general toward the more rural end of town, certainly anyone who built with a promise of town water is different from someone who bought or built without a written promise of town water would be a different case.

    Diane, for the record I am firmly in the camp that believes that you and others not on town water should not be charged for any water related charges if we cannot deliver water via a town pipe. I’ve never said otherwise.

    I believe the cancellation of that part of the major sewer and water project was wrong and shortsighted and not in alignment with my opinions at the time. In fact at the time I wanted to see a much larger area sewered, the Lakeview and below line left a lot to be desired.

    Also, I personally have never had problem with the sewered village area paying 100% of the after grants debt and operating charges for the sanitary sewers. Even if that means we would subsidize the schools, churches and municipal facilities and not for profits for everyone in town.

    However, any split of those charges was legally implemented with public consultation by another duly elected administration with the perceived consent of the citizens at that time. We were told that such a split was a common model among communities such as ours.

    You chose to seek legal opinion at your expense and risk, the town surely had legal opinions at town expense supporting their side. That’s the legal process and until someone actually pays lawyers more money to file suit and eventually gets a judgement they’re both able to say that their lawyer says they’re right.

    Basically, we just can’t fight and block development and urbanization and still wish for urban services in areas we demand must stay rural.

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    1. The town is reimbursed for schools, churches and municipal buildings by the provincial government to compensate. So another argument out the window on that issue that you purposely raise to make us appear to not be contributing our share.
      The administration should have informed the population that they were reacting as they saw fit and not done it in secrecy. This path taken makes it impossible to respect their decision when you only find out about the change of direction years later. And only after you’ve been getting taxed regardless of the changes that resulted in not getting the service agreed.
      Call me a Whiner if you want to, but I’ll fight the good fight for my nickels and dimes just as I am sure you would.

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      1. Daren, the town isn’t compensated according to my understanding of the word. The town gets a pittance from Ottawa for the post offices. Quebec likewise for Hudson’s three schools, medical centre (but not the pharmacy), daycares, municipal buildings and the AMT right of way. It doesn’t begin to cover the real cost to taxpayers. Churches are tax exempt, so everyone subsidizes them even if they don’t avail themselves of the spiritual uplift.

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      2. Jim, they get something. Pittance is your choice of words. People who throw out the argument that all citizens, serviced or not, are responsible for the betterment and good of these buildings conveniently neglect to mention the payments from Ottawa and Quebec. Actually, we were never even told about them while being talked down to by Corker and Elliott. I know because I was at the mic at the time. Am I skeptical? Damn right!

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  9. If anyone runs for mayor in 2017, they must make clear statements on two issues among many others.

    1) Hudson Water for all of Hudson, especially in the West End cut off from the original plans and those areas currently serviced from Rigaud.

    Every approved and buildable lot in our area should have a connection at the nearest town street edge and have the option to be connected to Hudson’s water infrastructure, and frankly everyone should pay the same blended rate and not the shortsighted and confusing divisive and disparate hodgepodge of rates we have now.

    2) Sewer extension plans and connection deadlines, starting with the areas cut off from the original plans and those who are not yet connected and a clear definition of those areas where connections are not foreseen.

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  10. OK , now I am annoyed and will join Diane and Daren in their water cause. From the Montreal Gazette 17/1/2017 Off Island Willow Place reopening article -Albert Kramberger. Start of Quotation ” The Town will have some work with regards to the relaunch of the Willow such as connecting the facility, which currently relies on a septic tank , to the municipal sewage system , Prevost said.
    “The septic tank is inadequate to look after the needs of the Willow on a long term basis” he said adding that a 400 meter pipe needs to be installed to connect the business to the sewage system. ” End of quotation.
    He forgot to mention the $200k pumping station along with the 400 meter pipe , but hey, they’re just details. This following on a recalled overweight budget and 5% tax increases. Restaurants have a 95% failure rate in the 1st year but what the heck let’s just jump right in there and promise them the moon in the media. No sense in waiting to see how the new owners do .
    These words will be retracted also . This man needs to go . This has happened to often in his 3 1/2 years. He completely misreads Hudson at every turn and backtracks with some off the cuff ,( don’t bother me with details and naysayers’) , remarks in his wonderful pre -council fireside chats.

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    1. Brian, I agree with the Willow Place sewage issue. It’s probably communication issues, but almost sounds like there have been discussions and conclusions.

      Three residents of Hazelwood agreed to and were rightfully charged approx $60K for a very short extension, without pumping to Lakeview sewer connection and will pay that as a debt service levy on their tax bills. Saved them the installation and maintenance of complicated septic and eliminated at least one cesspool on chronically damp soil.

      It is not Hudson’s responsibility to spend to extend the sewer line if that address is not currently serviced with sewers, but the owner of the property’s responsibility to maintain a septic system adequate to purpose.

      I am 100% against spot special interest zoning not on a long term plan, 100% for expanding the sewers to as many lots as possible when the cost of the expansion competes with the cost of installing and maintaining a septic system.

      George Ellerbeck’s development proposals included connection to the line back to town and eventually the Hudson Brick Shithouse, at George’s development expense. That cost would be amortized over a bunch of new residences and would have generated good use and revenue of our infrastructure. If this extension were part of that plan, makes more sense.

      But if it’s a standalone spot off the cuff plan it’s hard to explain or support unless the owners are paying for the required infrastructure as part of their plan to purchase the Willows.

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      1. I think it was a communication lapse by our Mayor.It’s that these lapses keep happening over and over. Jim says he holds his cards close to his chest and he’s right . But that comes across to a lot of ordinary citizens as uninformed. Nobody attended his now defunct coffee with the Mayor on Sat. mornings because , I suspect , nobody got anywhere with his sphinx like demeanor toward questioners. I’ve watched it happen at council meetings. Serial questioners like Eva and Chloe are met with cold indifference not just by him but by generally the whole council. They are treated as an inconvenience. Ed Prevost is a veteran corporate warhorse. So we’ve tried Hudson Corp. I say let’s move on.

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  11. I also jumped when I read that about the Willows. You can say the Willows is important and brings people to town; however, using taxpayers dollars to bring the sewer line so that the Willows does not have the huge expense of emptying their septic system is not right. Absolutely should be the Willows new owners’ responsibility, or they can wait until George finally starts his project. He has always said he would bring the line to connect to the Willows as part of the agreement. However, no building yet? How long does the Willows have to open as a restaurant/inn? 6 more months? I agree wholeheartedly with Brian’s comments about Mayor Prevost, this administration has to go. Answering Jim’s comments about lawyers fees and people who threaten to sue shouldn’t run for office. Well, let’s see, I went to see lawyers when I found out our wonderful DG who had been working for the town for over 40 years had been hiding very important information to council which was a huge breach of trust.. I got very needed advice on what to do. I asked for her resignation and the rest is history. So, lawyers do have their purpose and I did not use them lightly. It took me days to pick up the phone and ask for advice because I knew that when I made that call, the cat was then out of the bag and it was likely to open up a real can of worms – which it did. My legal opinion is just that, one lawyer’s opinion but important. Maybe the jurisprudence in the courts came after? When I called the Municipal Affairs department while Interim Mayor, I asked why they would allow something that was obviously contrary to the Municipal Taxation Act? They said it was not their job to see if everything was llegal they were there to make sure the paperwork was in order. Swear to God! If you are trying to shame me because I chose, at my expense, to defend my interests? Now that wouldn’t be very nice now would it!

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  12. I’m not trying to shame anyone, Diane. I’ll give you full credit for forcing Louise Villandré’s resignation and triggering the UPAC investigation that never really went anywhere because Villandré refused to snitch. You also get full credit for hiring Haulard and convincing her to take the legality of the water and sewer loan bylaws to MAMROT. I’ll even credit your council for firing Mayor Elliott for not paying his taxes.

    UPAC never found proof Villandré hid important information from council for 34 years (her total length of service, not 40). What they found was that the external auditor’s reports never made it to council for seven years prior to her departure. Lawyers for the town and the external auditors have since agreed the town should pay the auditors because, as UPAC enqueteurs made clear from the get-go the job of the external auditors isn’t to identify fraud, but to sound the alarm over irregularities. This they did. We can argue about whether they should have physically placed a copy directly in the hands of the mayor and every councillor, but it wasn’t required by law. Bill 122 will require a municipality to make public all financial documents, including external auditor’s reports and it’s way overdue.

    Everyone getting exercised over the town’s implied promise to connect the Willow to the sewer system and rezone it to allow expansion should keep this in mind:
    The Willow is located in a residential zone. Its right to operate as a business was grandfathered at the time the sector was rezoned. It’s the reason why Mike Dobbie had just nine months to rebuild it on the existing footprint after the original building burned.
    Your council asked Nathalie Lavoie to draw up a proposed rezoning bylaw that would have allowed the Willow to add uses and alter its grandfathered status, but the bylaw never made it to a public meeting because you must have known the Willow’s neighbours would contest it in a referendum, in part because spot zoning is illegal.

    As for the sewer extension that would allow the Willow to connect to the Bellevue line, my understanding of the system is that it would require the cooperation of George Ellerbeck, who I assume would like this or future administrations to greenlight his mixed density residential project. As a condition for his project’s approval, Ellerbeck was ready to sewer that sector. Is Mayor Ed intimating approval for George’s umpteenth iteration? One never knows because the mayor plays his cards close to his chest. But the impression I get is that he’s waiting for the early passage of Bill 122 to move in his last couple of months to get the requalification ball rolling on R-55, Sandy Beach and a bunch of downtown developments. He may run out of time but it’s still possible if the NatAss makes 122 a priority.

    My contempt for people who routinely hire lawyers to do their talking stems from the many times I was threatened for speaking and writing what I knew to be true. Lawyers have their place and we have used them when we had no other choice. Negotiating is better.

    A footnote: I’ll be posting the famous water/sewer map prepared by LBCD and presented to citizens in the fall of 2006. The map includes a water line to the west end.

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    1. UPAC didn’t need to find proof she had kept important information from council. I found proof along with my colleagues. Did mayors/councillors know that deductions at source were not done resulting in cheating the tax authorities? did they know that so many other things were not declared as well? I will give them the benefit of the doubt because we really don’t know. Remember also that councillors did not get medical benefits so would not have seen the missing taxable amounts on our pay cheques which is how this whole thing started with Sylvain discovering that medical benefits were not declared. Only the mayors can avail themselves of that. When the auditors are flagging all kinds of irregularities in contravention of the income tax act as well as the Cities & Towns Act, and this information is not coming to council (for years) because the DG keeps it hidden (for obvious reasons that became apparent when she was charged with fraud) then that is a huge breach of trust. You are absolutely right that it is not the auditor’s job to look for fraud, just irregularities and to flag them. They did. Mind you when year after year the same irregularities are never fixed, well you wonder why they didn’t ask to sit with the whole council. We will never know what transpired there, water under the bridge, but hopefully we can learn from that lesson. That’s why it’s important for every councillor and mayor also, to speak up when they feel irregularities are being committed by whomever. The MRC has lawyers/advisors who can help councillors when they are faced with such irregularities being committed and they are not sure. Obviously when you first get elected, you cannot possibly know the Cities & Towns Act by heart. I sincerely hope that good candidates will not shy away from running because they saw what happened to Rob Spencer after he spoke up. Ostracized, treated very badly. I read the complaints and what the minister said about them. They were concerned that certain things were not being done correctly by council, maybe just vice de procedure, and I’m not saying it was deliberate but probably due to inexperience. Given what transpired before, it was wise to nip it in the bud. Councillors should not be afraid to speak up, it’s part of the responsibility of being elected.

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