I resurrected two columns published prior to presentation of Hudson’s water and sewer loan bylaws. Here’s what Peter Ratcliffe had to say: pg-09
My Oct. 30 2006 Hudson Gazette column follows. The water and sewer loan bylaws were presented a month later, raising the total cost from $16 million to $24 million. Conclusion: Hudson went into this project knowing the west end water question was unresolved. I wish we had pushed the issue even if others didn’t.
When later becomes now
Elsewhere in this week’s paper, Hudson resident François Hudon argues the case that every one of Hudson’s 2,200 addresses should be taxed equally for the proposed sewer treatment system and upgrades to the Town’s waterworks.
Hudon isn’t alone. This past weekend, I was waylaid by a prominent resident who demanded why any household not served by the sewer system should have to pay for it. I had scarcely finished that conversation when I ran into a couple from the west end whose water pressure had just dropped off for the umpteenth time, wanting to know why their taxes aren’t worth as much as everyone else’s.
Scarcely a day goes by that I don’t hear from another resident of Birch Hill, Brisbane and Upper or Lower Whitlock, threatening to vote against the bylaw if they’re not connected to the sewer system.
As I predicted, the Town’s delay in tabling a loan bylaw for the water and sewer works is giving rise to rebellion.
Before I wade deeper into this debate, I’m 100 percent in favour of this project. I’m tired of drinking water that tastes like blood (and get off my case about water softeners!). I’m disgusted with the sight of raw sewage flowing in the Lake of Two Mountains. I’m sick of the pervasive smell of fecal matter in our ditches and streams.
It’s going to cost us. As a business in the centre of town, the Hudson/St. Lazare Gazette will be assessed its share of the 75 percent of the cost of the sewer project. As an unsewered Hudson household, we’ll continue to shoulder the cost of maintaining an aeration system at our home.
But voting against the loan bylaw may end up costing us even more. As I wrote in August, municipalities that take their drinking water from the Ottawa River are demanding that Quebec force Hudson to stop dumping its untreated sewage. Since then, I’ve been told that if Hudson votes aginst the loan bylaw, the feds and the province may well pull their money, force Hudson to clean up its act — and foot the sewage component of the bill all by its lonesome.
If the sewer project dies, so will the continuing-care seniors’ residence and the proposed medical centre, neither of which is economically viable if it has to build its own treatment plant.
So why hasn’t the Town of Hudson presented its case to the people? It’s now November, more than a month after public information sessions were supposed to have been held to brief taxpayers. Here’s the dilemma I suspect is facing the Town:
Sewerage: The original plan connected homes, businesses and public buildings in a quadrilateral bounded by Main Road, Côte St. Charles, Cameron and Lakeview, plus Mount Pleasant Elementary and Westwood Senior High schools and the proposed seniors’ residence on Charleswood. A separate network collected sewage from residences on Bellevue, Sanderson, Seignieurie, Parsons and Wilkinson. Everything fed into a new waste-water treatment plant next to the municipal snow dump on Wharf Road. Now that the folks of Birch Hill and Brisbane are militating for connection, why not the homes around Pine Lake and everyone above Lakeview? It’s mushrooming.
Cost: The federal and provincial governments are committed to $9.8 million, or slightly less than two-thirds of the original $15.5 million cost. That would have left $5.6 million to be picked up by Hudson’s ratepayers according to a cost-sharing arrangement to be presented at a public consultation prior to the tabling of the loan bylaw (or bylaws, depending on how the Town decides to divvy up the cost.) Some 1,300 addresses would be liable for anywhere from 60 to 75 percent of the sewerage bill, with the remaining 900 paying the rest. A number of unsewered homeowners aren’t happy because they’ll end up paying for a sewer system while having to maintain a septic tank, weeper field and all the rest.
Water: Again, who should pay? Not all 2,200 addresses will benefit from improvements to the Town of Hudson’s drinking water treatment infrastructure. Originally, the Town had hoped to be able to solve the west end’s chronic water woes with a new reservoir connected to Rigaud’s two new wells, but that plan fell through when it learned that the proposal carried a $1 million price tag. Does the Town float a separate loan bylaw for the reservoir and tax the 55 west end homes it serves for the full cost? Or does the Town write the cost of laying pipe from the top of Macauley Hill to the Hudson border into the overall water-system upgrade?
Bottom line: Pay now or pay later. For nearly 40 years, Hudson has evaded its duty to the environment and its neighbours. Whatever the reason for the incompetent handling of the water/sewer file, this project MUST be completed.