A short history of Sandy Beach

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Trilliums in bloom in a Sandy Beach wetland. For 60 years, Hudson has been debating the merits of buying versus developing the 60-acre site. (Jim Duff photo)

On Thursday, Feb. 16, Hudson residents will learn how Mayor Ed Prévost’s administration proposes to allow Hans Muhlegg to develop Sandy Beach and what it will mean for the thousands who take advantage of Hudson’s public window on the Ottawa River.

This latest public consultation will be Muhlegg’s fourth kick at the Sandy Beach can, each under a different mayor. Steve Shaar cut a rezoning deal approved by 72% of the vote in an October 2001 referendum. Elizabeth Corker’s administration adopted the attitude that environment ministry hurdles would stall the project until Muhlegg gave up and agreed to a sewered project of 70 single-family dwellings. Michael Elliott did his utmost to move the project forward but couldn’t get the pieces in place before his time ran out.

Hudson’s current administration appears to be in a hurry to submit a revised development plan I suspect may not be subject to approval by referendum. I’ll get into that later on.

This is an old, old game, this dance between the town and a succession of Sandy Beach owners. In the ‘60s the Blenkinship family was ready to sell the 60 acres to the town for $235,000. A dozen years later, Claudette Boyer offered it to the town for the taxes owed before selling it to Muhlegg’s company for $450,000. Muhlegg himself has expressed his ambivalence at seeing Sandy Beach developed. I’ve come to believe the people most interested in seeing it developed and the least interested in seeing it remain greenspace are the past 60 years of mayors and councillors.

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Sandy Beach development according to 2001 rezoning. The two orange sectors marked H3 would see a mix of single and multi-family units. The smaller of the two would also permit a three-storey 50-door seniors’ residence. The green section marked CONS represents the 20% greenspace. Although it doesn’t show on this town map, the town also gets a 100-foot-wide strip along the beach. This may no longer represent the agreement between the town and the developer.

Sandy Beach hasn’t changed much since the retreat of the glaciers. Algonquin tribes fished salmon, muskie, perch and walleye in its shallows and sheltered among its ancient pines and hemlocks along the same shoreline where toddlers splash.

New France brought the fur trade to Sandy Beach in the form of a trading post and gristmill. Historian Maben Poirier once showed me the massive square-cut stones and remnants of the millpond where pre-Conquest entrepreneur Marcellin Farand dit Vivarais built his mill on the creek that bears his name. I’ll post an interesting sidebar on Maben’s musings.

The Viviry River and Parsons Point created Sandy Beach. Swift-flowing and clear, the Viviry drains a 114-square-kilometre watershed with its origins in the spring-fed bogs at the top of Côte St. Charles. In its rush to join the Ottawa, the Viviry transports tonnes of fine sand from St. Lazare, only to drop its load as it runs into the slow-moving river. Over the centuries the sand from the Viviry has mixed with the sand from the Ottawa’s long fetch to form a perfect half-moon alluvial delta all the way to Quarry Point.

Sandy Beach is Hudson’s last remaining window on the Ottawa River, the last reminder of Canada’s steamboat era. During the Depression, Canadian Pacific ran trains directly to Sandy Beach, filled with inner-city dwellers yearning for escape from Montreal’s heat. The Blenkinships, who owned it back then, charged a quarter per car to cross the culvert bridge where Vivaris’s dam once stood. Old timers recall the beach, snack bar and store with the excitement of teenagers. It sounds like a magic place, which of course it still is.

Development was always an option. The 60-acre parcel was zoned for roughly 40 single-family dwellings on 40,000-square-foot lots, but the cost of subdividing and servicing that part of Hudson made it financially unattractive until Hudson adopted a new master plan in 1994. Nicanco’s holdings were included in PAE 1-C, a new zone which would permit condominiums, semi-detached homes and townhouses.

The current discussion had its beginnings almost 20 years ago and as you’ll see, has been shaped by unintended consequences.

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Revised Sandy Beach development shows beach access cut off just to the east of the access servitude (red lines, right centre) as well as alterations to the original conservation zone along Viviry Creek.

In a March 25/98 front-page story, the Hudson Gazette reports:

The fate of one of Hudson’s last remaining pieces of waterfront greenspace depends on whether there’s a market for single-family homes on the 60-acre site – or whether the owners will be permitted to rezone the area for multi-family dwellings.
The Hudson Gazette has learned that representatives of the owners of Sandy Beach met two weeks ago with Hudson Mayor Steve Shaar and others to discuss the possibility of zoning changes for the environmentally sensitive area.
[…] Planning Committee chair Elizabeth Corker believes a development of single-family homes on the property would not be economically viable.
“At least 10 per cent of it is in the flood zone,” she said. “The developer has to give the town 10 per cent in greenspace.” Another 15 per cent would be required for roads and other infrastructures, meaning there would probably be room for about 30 homes.

April 8/98: Citizens petition for unfettered access to beach. Organizers Shawn Murphy and Heather Cockburn point out the town has the right under PAE 1-C to claim as greenspace any 10% it chooses and notes that 10% of the 60 acre total lies in a flood zone.

April 15/98: There’s no rush to buy Sandy Beach, Mayor Shaar tells residents at the monthly council meeting. He accepts a 250-name petition demanding that the 10% greenspace allocation be in the form of beachfront stretching from the tip of Quarry Point to what is now Jack Layton Park.

May 13/98: Shaar tells the monthly council meeting he’s to meet with Nicanco May 26 to discuss buying all or part of Sandy Beach. Asked about Muhlegg’s offer to help find funding to purchase the property, Shaar said Nicanco’s offers were vague and the letter disjointed, as was a followup letter. Shaar reads Muhlegg’s latest letter to the meeting expressing dissatisfaction with the lack of an offer from the town and asking for a meeting to discuss the company’s proposals. The mayor concludes by saying negotiations won’t go far with a $6 million floor price.
The story quotes Muhlegg saying formal and informal meetings on the future of Sandy Beach have been going on for seven or eight years, leading some residents to wonder whether promises had been made when the 1994 master plan was adopted.

May 27/98: Corker challenges Nicanco’s asking price, wondering how a 60-acre property with a municipal evaluation of $2.37 million can be worth $6 million when half will be required for infrastructure or undevelopable.

July 6/98: Nicanco bars public access to Sandy Beach and posts a security guard at the Beach Road entrance. Nicanco’s Robert Sabbah says the fence is necessary to prevent vandalism. Shaar calls it a pressure tactic. The town, he says, is not prepared to make wholesale changes to the PAE, which poses no barriers to development.

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2001 Sandy Beach development plan

July 29/98: Tempers flare at Nicanco’s Sandy Beach information meeting as residents shout down Muhlegg’s presentation of his proposed Pine Beach Village. The development would include a restaurant-inn, 60-suite seniors residential complex, 22 villas, 12 semi-detached units, 60 townhouses and a fitness centre with an indoor pool. Nicanco claims the development will generate $400,000 a year in taxes.

Residents zero in on the lack of public beach access. Although the proposal includes 9,000 square metres of greenspace, public beach makes up 125 square metres and is located in a wetland. Muhlegg claims wetland can be transformed into beach. Not everyone is opposed; resident Peter Johnston calls it a well-thought-out project that should nt be condemned because people want to walk their dogs.

Aug. 5/98: Mayor Shaar later says Nicanco’s plan was rejected because the comprehensive development program (PAE), doesn’t permit commercial development. Nor is the town happy with the greenspace being offered. The beach property offered isn’t a beach. At $6 million, the town isn’t buying and Hudson historically doesn’t expropriate, he adds – so the ball is in Muhlegg’s court. Nicanco complains the town is asking for 42% of the 60-acre total. Not true, says Shaar. “They’re including roads, flood zone, greenspace – things that are not part of the calculation.”

Sept. 23/98: Nicanco to present new proposal for Sandy Beach. The story quotes Robert Sabbah, director of business development for Nicanco Holdings, Hans Muhlegg’s brother-in-law. It’s the first sign of a break in the impasse that began with the beach closure.

Oct. 13/98: Discussions between Nicanco and the town continue. The new proposal would include an integrated project with a large building with full services.

The rest of 1998 and all of 1999 passes without public announcement. Then, on Feb. 16, 2000, Hudson residents learn that PAE 1-C is being rewritten to allow a mix of housing. In April, the town planning advisory committee recommends council approve Nicanco’s latest proposal. On May 24, the Gazette reports Nicanco’s fence has been removed in a number of places to allow free access to Sandy Beach.

Meanwhile, events were quickly overtaking Nicanco’s development that would change Hudson forever.

In June 2000, the town awards a contract to the consulting engineering firm LBCD for a feasibility study for a sewage collection and treatment system for Hudson’s downtown core. No fees are payable unless the town receives federal and provincial grants. (In February 2001, LBCD’s mandate is extended to Como’s Bellevue-Sanderson sector.)

Oct. 11/00: Town, Nicanco close to deal. Beach access is the major sticking point.

Dec. 13/00: LBCD submits sewer study. Estimated cost: $6-9 million. (Actual cost: $16M)

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Hudson’s main sewer interceptor under construction on Wharf Rd. The town’s aim has always been to add doors to the system while getting developers to assume the cost.

Feb. 14/01: Town, Nicanco reach agreement in principle. The developer will give up 20 per cent greenspace, or 12 acres – twice the required allotment.

March 12/01: Town holds public consultation on two rezoning bylaws that will allow mixed-density residential development on Sandy Beach. Fifty residents attend. Bylaws create three zones. R-6 (11.6 acres), the closest to Quarry Point, would allow five single-family residences on 40,000-square-foot waterfront lots. R-7 (23.65 acres), the largest sector, would permit four units per hectare, equivalent to 25 single-family units or 95 townhouses. R-8 (10.6 acres), across the tracks from Manoir Cavagnal and to the west of the Viviry footpath, would allow any combination of 12 single-family dwellings, 40 multi-family units and 50-door seniors residence with a maximum height of 42 feet – three storeys.

May 16/01: Town, Nicanco agree on larger setbacks to create wider buffer zone between the new development and residents on Wallace and Sugarbush.
The estimated cost of LBCD’s sewage project rises to $9.4 million, 85% covered by grants.

May 24/01: Two dozen people attend public consultation on bylaws 408 and 409, modifying zoning bylaw 321 and subdivision bylaw 323.
The 54-acre development would preserve 75% of the pine forest and 50% of all trees.
In exchange, the town gets a right of way (ROW) to 1,186 feet of beach, beach access and 11 acres of greenspace.

Most of those in the room oppose the zoning change. They argue that most of Nicanco’s 20% greenspace allocation is already protected wetland or flood zone. Quarry Point environmentalist Kathy Conway asks what happens to the deal if the environment ministry doesn’t approve the project.

That’s our problem, Nicanco’s urban planner Marc Perreault tells her. It proves to be prescient.

Mayor Shaar tells the crowd the project would add a maximum of 150 residential units to the town and reminded everyone the town is facing a $9.4 million sewage system bill. The project is unrelated to the sewage system, Shaar adds – but provision should be made for connecting the Sandy Beach development.

May 30/01: Council tables notices of motion of both zoning bylaws. Residents of contiguous sectors R-1, R-2, C-2, Y-1 (comprising most of Hudson) are eligible to sign a day-long register. 374 signatures are required to force a referendum.

June 27/01: Nicanco’s Marc Perreault warns there will be no further public access to Sandy Beach if the proposed rezoning is rejected.

July 4/01: 444 residents sign the register, 70 more than required to force a referendum.

July 11/01: Council indicates it will withdraw the proposed zoning rather than forcing a referendum. Nicanco is said to be ready to proceed with single-family dwellings.

Aug. 8/01: Council reconsiders, schedules referendum for Sunday, Sept. 30.

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Town administration scrapped any pretense of neutrality in the leadup to the Sept. 30/01 rezoning referendum.

Sept. 5/01: Town, Nicanco hold open house to explain the project. The open house launches a massive ad blitz extolling the virtues of Nicanco’s project and downplaying the negatives. Opposition is divided and has difficulty getting its message out. Other projects, like Whitlock West and a proposal to run an access road between Highway 342 and the Oka ferry, fragment those who might otherwise oppose Sandy Beach development. A powerful argument in support of the project is the need to widen the user base for the coming sewer project.

Sept. 30/01: Both rezoning bylaws pass easily. Just 862 of 3,418 eligible voters vote 72% in favour of the project.

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Citizens opposed to the 2001 rezoning bylaws never had a chance of swaying public opinion.

From that day on, nothing goes according to plan for Nicanco. Four years after residents approved the rezoning, the 150-door development has seen construction of a single home on one of the five R-6 lots.

Under Quebec’s Loi sur l’environnement, regional environment ministry inspectors make the determination whether a proposed subdivision requires further study. Their decision is based on acquired data, such as satellite mapping and a basic knowledge of the local topography. Sandy Beach, with a checkerboard of sensitive wetlands, flood zones and ticked all their boxes.

Two more years will pass before Nicanco provides the ministry with multi-season flora and fauna studies needed for authorization to extend Beach Road to the far end of the proposed development. More time is spent fighting the town for the right to service the five lots on Royalview via Sugarbush. At one point, it looked like the only house in the entire project would not be issued a certificate of location because it was located on a private road. Normally, a municipality takes over ownership of a subdivision but Hudson balked until Nicanco agrees to foot the bill for sewering the entire project. To this day, Beach is a private road, while at the far end, Royalview is public.

Dec. 7/05: Hans Muhlegg blames delays on “unplanned and unexpected development constraints.” Asked how a third party would interpret this, he responds: “It’s disguised expropriation.”

Worse, the environment ministry determines that a 1.5-hectare wetland in the middle of R-7 could not be filled in, leaving Nicanco’s largest sector with a money-losing hole in the middle. (It wasn’t until the 2012 passage of a Quebec law allowing developers to backfill a sensitive wetland by trading it for a protected wetland of equal or superior quality in the same watershed that Nicanco could proceed.)

March 30, 2011: Hudson mulls wetland swap to revive Sandy Beach project
How far should the Town of Hudson go in helping developer Nicanco revive the moribund Sandy Beach subdivision to add users to the new municipal sewer system?
Nicanco president Hans Muhlegg is asking the town to sign off on a deal that would protect a parcel of wetland the town already owns in exchange for allowing development of a five-acre wetland in the heart of his 56 acres.
Regional environment ministry officials confirmed last week they’re studying the proposed land switch to determine whether it falls within their land-trade parameters. Under controversial Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks (MDDEP) guidelines, developers can ‘buy’ the right to develop wetland by acquiring wetland of equal value in the same watershed.
But Muhlegg isn’t interested in putting more money into the project, says Hudson mayor Michael Elliott.
“His request has simply been ‘will the town help me by freezing a piece of land you already own’?” Elliott explained prior to meeting with Muhlegg and his team last Tuesday. “In other words, to take a similar wet zone which we [already] own opposite the treatment plant, that we already have a court order telling us we can’t do anything with, and rezone [it] to be a sensitive ecological area.”
Nicanco already has the right to develop Sandy Beach, thanks to a 2001 zoning bylaw approved by a majority of residents. The plans call for a mix of single-family, semi-detached and seniors’ residences — all connected to the municipal sewer system.
But by the time he was ready to develop, MDDEP had changed the rules. “Part of the problem is he didn’t move quick enough,” Elliott said. “He should have moved eight or nine years ago for him to get his dispensation.”
Development means an end to unlimited public access to Sandy Beach, but that was already established in the 2001 zoning bylaw. The public will have access to roughly 11 acres, including 720 feet of shoreline — twice the mandatory 10 percent greenspace allowance Nicanco had to give the town.
Last week’s meeting with Muhlegg and his lawyer and biologists was to establish whether the five acres in the middle of the proposed development is as environmentally sensitive as MDDEP’s biologists say it is. The town has asked McGill biologist Martin Lechowitz to go over the data from both sides and advise the town’s environment committee, which will make a recommendation.
The mayor admits he’s torn between seeing more users on the sewer system and protecting every possible inch of Sandy Beach.
“I don’t particularity want to make that decision whether the town should help him,” says Elliott. “As far as I’m concerned the town lost the beach 25 years ago when we could have had it for $235 000.”
Even if the wetland swap is refused, it’s not going to halt development, Elliott points out, “but it will change his drawings where buildings are going to be.”
Both the mayor and town planning committee chairman Rob Spencer see it as an chance  to revive an $80 million project while widening the town’s tax base. “The sewage treatment plant was designed to take it,” says Elliott. “I think it’s a win win for the town.
He pointed out that Muhlegg has already given the town more than twice the amount of greenspace required by law. “The decision has already been made to develop the bloody place, it was zoned for development we agreed to that years ago. so all we would be redoing is rezoning a piece of land we can’t do anything with anyway and we own.”

Since that was written, Muhlegg has satisfied the ministry’s wetland trading requirements by renegotiating the conservation zone with the town. The latest map shows alterations to the green corridor cutting across R-7. It also indicates a reduction of beachfront to the east of the access servitude from the end of Beach Road.

None of these revisions have come before public council meetings although they have been discussed by members of TPAC. At worst, say concerned residents, the Prévost administration will present residents at the Feb. 16 meeting with a revised Sandy Beach development proposal limiting beach access while dramatically increasing the number and density of residential units.

Why would council be in a rush to get this done? One theory suggests it’s because neither Nicanco nor the town want to find themselves on the wrong side of Bill 102, a top-to-bottom rewrite of Quebec’s 40-year-old environmental protection act. As of last week, the draft bill was in legislative committee undergoing a clause-by-clause study and could be ready for adoption before the June break.

For Nicanco and this administration, the major differences in the rewritten act are its new transparency and public consultation requirements. For that reason alone, I wonder whether the proposal being presented Feb. 16 will attempt to replace Sandy Beach’s PAE designation with a Plan particulier d’urbanisme, or PPU. Although the change would require ministry approval and consultation, it would no longer be subject to referendum.

For Hudson residents, the question we asked 60 years ago, 50 years ago, 20 years ago is the same question we’re asking today. Is Hudson better off owning Sandy Beach or seeing it developed according to a plan we can agree on?

If you were asked that question tomorrow in the form of a referendum, which way would you vote?

People ask me what Sandy Beach is worth. I have no idea. Once it was $235,000. Today, it’s $23.5 million. Muhlegg has come up with so many figures over the years I don’t think he knows what it’s worth to him.

Muhlegg and I have known one another for these 20 years but I can’t say I understand him.
We’ve sat through innumerable council meetings and public consultations together. I’ve spent hours in his Pointe Claire office and over lunch, listening to him obsessing on his favourite topic: Sandy Beach. He sees it as a jewel, a place of rare beauty that should be preserved in its natural state. He’s on record as having offered the town help in obtaining funding to buy Sandy Beach and suggested that his company might be able to help finance the acquisition. Yet he’s a shrewd businessman, making his fortune developing far-flung parts of the world and investing in highly speculative ventures – prize fighters. He’s a fighter himself, a lung cancer survivor.

If I was to venture a guess, I would say Hans Muhlegg’s perfect Sandy Beach deal would have all 60 acres declared a conservation zone, off-limits to the public. Forever.

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Which will better protect Hudson’s Sandy Beach – development or popularity?

At a special meeting starting at 7 p.m. this Monday, Feb. 6, Hudson council will adopt a revised 2017 budget and triennial investment plan. Indications are this administration will slash $1 million from the $13M budget adopted in December. Expect across-the-board cuts, including reduced grants to local organizations and events. The regular February council meeting follows.

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20 thoughts on “A short history of Sandy Beach

  1. Thanks Jim, One of 3 significant blog posts Jim Duff has made from the treasures of the Hudson Gazette archives:

    We had the opportunity to buy this land several times for $200K-450K. We were too damned cheap. Now we want to borrow or find some grant money to buy it for $15 million to keep it from being developed? Failing that a group will probably continue to delay and stall the developer. All the while, we really need the tax income from that development and others to fund our rapid growth in spending with stagnant population.

    We also once had a world renowned musician who really wanted to gift us a performing arts center and bickered about the compromises and didn’t do that either.
    Will we ever be able to see far enough forward to get out of our own damned way?

    I had proposed revising the Town motto to Latin for Just Fix It, but my alternate is we continue to look backwards, bicker among ourselves, do nothing and just change the town motto to:

    Requireris Occasiones (Missed Opportunities)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, Peter. Residents voted decisively for this but it may well be that Nicanco can no longer proceed with the project as approved. In that case, does the Town have the right to let the developer modify the approved proposal without consultation? Not according to Quebec.
      What would residents say if it turns out the Town agreed to pay for infrastructure, a clear violation of provincial law? Yes, we need the doors, but at what price? Nobody who voted for the 2001 proposal could have foreseen a blank cheque to the developer.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. JIm absolutely it needs a new public consultation. Always has, since the flood plains were revised.

    Also, in my world developers must always bring 100% of the infrastructure at their cost and then it’s transferred to the town when built.

    We should gain from development (green space, infrastructure and taxable doors), not spend. When I hear people complain that developers will profit from changing our community I go ballistic. Yes, they will make a profit if everything sells and their costs are as predicted. But the town gets green space, infrastructure, welcome taxes, and then annual taxes forever. So towns make, over time, tens or hundreds of times the revenue that an average developer did.

    There is infrastructure already in place for the original plans, one home built but roads, water and maybe even sewer lines. As a community we need to find a way to respect that investment the developer has made so far.

    Do you have information that behind the scenes we’re agreeing to pay for anything to allow this development to proceed?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said and well researched , Jim except……………..you’re forgetting a shadowy figure from the mists of Hudson lore. Gilles Ringuette had the property between the Blenkinships and Muhlegg ownerships. I think Claudette Boyer may have been his estranged wife. I knew Mr. Ringuette . There were rumours of underworld dealings although he settled quite comfortably into a house down on the beach with a yellow Rolls Royce as an ornament in the livingroom. He told me Mr. Muhlegg had paid him $4.5 million for the property after which the former left with some dispatch to live out the remainder of his life in Uruguay , a destination he told me was more suited to his alternative life style. He was colorful and eccentric and I don’t believe Mr. Muhlegg acquired that property for $435K .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Brian. The important point is it was for sale for $200K-450K at various times that Hudson refused and we had very little debt.

      Today we’re looking at a hugely inflated asking price rumoured to be $15 million. If Muhlegg actually bought it for $ 4.5 million, he’s spent a couple of million more probably on carrying costs, planning and infrastructure to sell ONE LOT that’s been built on. He’d love to double his money, wouldn’t we all. But it’s all hypothetical at this point.

      I’m anxious to see what he proposes. It will be likely resoundingly rejected by the usual rejecters and the rest of us need to fully understand what it really means to Hudson.

      I don’t think there’s any risk that someone will soon come up with enough money responsibly for Hudson to buy it at today’s prices.

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      1. Actually the important point, Peter and Jim, is we now have the Viviry river course w/ the only old growth trees left following Mr. Ringuette,s clear cutting of the rest in the early “80’s. The Town owns a good stretch of the waterfront east of the Viviry estuary and a servitude on a major section of the beach. These areas contain all the trails and park areas that are ever used by the general public. The areas that are presently zoned for townhouses and senior’s complex ?………… nobody goes there . There aren’t any trails there and it’s close to impassable with wet areas and suckering second growth trees. Nobody goes there. And there’s the real point. We got the best part for nothing. The rest should be developed and add $ to our tax base. This is what town planning is supposed to look like . Not petitions for the Town to buy land that nobody uses and pay some price that bears no relation to reality of the market. I know their heart is in the right place but their logic has forsaken them. I’m glad the Town never bought it. There was no point . We needed somebody with vision to develop it (that part hasn’t happened) and we would get what we have now : 20% of the most unique natural aspects of that site. I’m sure if the Town had bought it nothing would have been done with it beyond what has been done there so far. For God’s sake we get 10% free parkland dedications like where the Parkinson Trail is supposed to be and over 10 years nothing happens , no trails , nothing. This Town should be outlawed from owning any real estate. All they do is f….k it up. I’m moving to Rigaud to be with Hans.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. All true, Brian, but that’s if the 2001 rezoning stands. You’ll recall JP Roy telling me the 2001 agreement has to be replaced and the zoning bylaws redone. We still don’t know why and how. We may be having a different discussion after the Feb. 16 meeting.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. You could be right. A $5 visit to the Registre Foncier with one of the cadastral numbers would establish who’s right. A realtor can consult the site for free. I’m not a realtor and I have no research budget.

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      1. Brian if you’re going to Rigaud with Hans, Guy Pilon would probably accept that as a decent trade-off when we’re finally bankrupt and merged with V-D. Como, Hudson, and Hudson Heights including Hudson’s Valleys and Alstonvale goes to V-D and Choisy goes to Rigaud. Now, would Hans want you rural elitists with fancy taste in water and septic?

        There it’s almost done. Might as well plan for it. We spent enough on legals to pave 7% of our roads, bu my simplistic calculations, so by the time the legal eagles drain the rest of out cash, Guy Pilon will come in and we’ll have 11 story condos at Sandy Beach and finally a car dealer and fast food joint in the village.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. Jim. Thanks for the history. I remember the security guard in 98 after talks broke down. I remember me biking last her laughing.. ans I also remember Remi from the Hudson Police hauling me out of there.

    235,000 eh. That’s all it would have taken.

    Do you suppose the petition makers know the land has already been zoned for development?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OK, Peter , now that did make me laugh my 5 o’clock tea out through my nose. ” Rural elitists with fancy tastes in water and septic” . I hope Diane and Daren read this. It’s an apt description. What if nobody wants any part of Hudson? I mean we think everyone is lining up to annex us and we have always been proudly self-delusional that way. (we’re kind of like Americans). There translate that into Latin and I think we’ve got the Choisy town motto.

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      1. Brian your last question is the important one. What if nobody wants Hudson.

        When we fail, we wont go to the highest bidder we’ll go where we’re told. To a financially strong and well run town that is much larger than us.

        I expect that whatever debt (cash and infrastructure) we have at that time will continue to be carried by Hudson. so there’s wisdom in Just Fix It. Of course if we proved we could and finally fixed it, more would to be positive and keep.

        I had to leave the Council meeting last night for my personal mental well being, my day had started at 5:00am and I was getting agitated at the ill-informed and repetitive questions from those involved citizens who want something done without having any idea of the restrictions, reality or process.

        Both sides are wrong.

        The revised budget is the same ingredients cooked and reheated differently. It consigns us to doing less repair without adding long term debt and less repayment of long term debt. The defense of a $1.5miliion recreation budget for a town of 5,100 people left me apoplectic.

        The questions on evaluation of Sandy Beach showed no understanding of the evaluation process from the questioner, and not enough from council. Council does not set evaluations, we the citizens pay an independent evaluation firm to set them for us. That’s because in the past so many side deals were cooked and adjustments happened. So it’s cleaned up now and Council or Hudson staff doesn’t determine the taxable value of any property.

        The developer owns the land and he can prepare plans for approval, which process will become easier for them with time and PMAD, which we still don’t conform to. So unless Muhlegg proposes something environmentally repulsive we won’t have many options to stop him, in my opinion. This council knows the extent of the fiscal swamp and development is desperately needed, plus Brian has already said the land to be built on is not the land we should want to own.

        Muhlegg is largely where he is on this because Hudson stalled the sewers long enough to totally screw his approved by referendum plan. I’m hoping he gets the go ahead, the welcome taxes from 200+ units will help pay for the bottled water delivery trucks to Choisy, but honestly the EcoTrolley would be perfect for that.

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  5. Peter , I couldn’t get myself interested enough to attend. I called Wayne and he selflessly volunteered. The questions usually asked are poorly researched except for the likes of Daren and Marcus. Jim asks them but he already knows the answers. The Mayor and Council can never be bothered to research the questions they know will be asked. If they did they could easily hit them out of the park. But they mope around up there and claim everyone’s out to get them. I will attend Mr. Muhlegg’s presentation because I have a lot of past wrapped up in it and I see valid reasons for new approaches to the now ancient 2002 plan that was approved. Open minds going in would be hoped for but I have my doubts . The Save Sandy Beach petition stalled and I think they should know that there’s some of us out here that do not specifically agree with their cause. I feel the thousand whiplashes warming up for me at voicing that sacrilege.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Marcus is in Florida and Daren was there sitting right in front of me, but quiet while I was there.

    I could never do what our Councillors do, I’d need an air horn to signal the end of a stupid or repetitive question and many cartridges duly accounted on the payables sheet monthly.

    Our Council does an amazing job of being decent and not losing their cool, but certain citizens goad and force them near the edges and try to push them over. You can see it on the faces of Council when some people approach the mic, I’d have lost it at least five times last night.

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    1. Peter, I agree up to a point. Some of those who approached the mic did so with the aim of goading or just wanted to rant. Others asked extremely pertinent questions and elicited responses that told us something we didn’t know.
      Speaking generally as a serial agitator, I would suggest that the administration make it a priority to post everything it possibly can on the web and ensure council members have an in-depth knowledge of their respective files. Far too often they turn to the DG and clerk to answer. This does not happen in most municipalities.
      This is an observation, rather than a criticism but if some council members want to read it as criticism, I won’t go sleepless.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. If that’s unloading on me, you must have had a feather bullet or your powder was wet, I didn’t even notice it. You can work at doing better next time.

    It’s sport to too many. I agree that our Councillors aren’t as facile with important information. And they show their frustration, which is never good.

    There is a bilateral responsibility to understand resources, process and possibility. Council cannot act on an undocumented unsupervised petitions signed by 10% of voters, but council can’t ignore 10% of voter showing up at a rally in support of even an impossible cause. So bring faces, even if your cause has no hope because there’s no process available except to grossly overpay for something we can’t afford and can’t use..

    I totally missed on RG’s description of a non-surplus surplus it was waffling bafflegab. Accounting is not statistics, it’s black or white. If we spent less than we took in we have a surplus and vice versa, it has nothing to do with budgets. I felt like we were being treated like idiots who couldn’t possibly understand accounting. The answer to Louise’s question was completely useless deflection.

    And I’ll believe the $150K in legal fees budgeted for 2017 when I see it, that’s coming right out of the non-existent 2017 paving budget.

    Jim, you are an important resource in this town, you were when you wrote and now when you speak. The facts you have in archives and your mind are critical to respecting the past. Sometimes you can’t resist nailing them with what you know, and that’s an important part of keeping them open and honest. I know you well enough to respect that that’s not just kicking them, it’s designed to motivate them to preparation. They’re in the final dead duck period, nothing big will happen I’d like them to state who intends to run again in the next few months.

    I never presume dishonesty when ignorance of the real facts is present. We have little history in our current employee base, so we can get off course.

    My most entertaining segment was the citizen who wanted to know how she could comment on a presentation she couldn’t attend. There doesn’t seem to be a clear understanding of developer and government lines, responsibilities and actions.

    Nor is there a clear understanding of municipal evaluations. Councilors should be educators as well, and I’m not sure any of them grasped the comment on Sandy Beaches evaluation which could have been defused by clearly explaining that valuations are not a town function, but contracted to an independent third party.

    Vaudreuil-Dorion has legalized chickens, I’m sure we have a bylaw against them, solar panels and fun in general.

    I’m working too hard at real things in business, but I want to post on infrastructure funding shortly, because that’s the great unknown overdraft we’re living with for several past administrations.

    Transparency would have been so much easier, we want the truth, but we can’t be trusted with facts because we just can’t handle the truth.

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