Hudson’s disastrous snow-clearing experiment with low bidder Transport André Leroux is headed to court. Council adopted a resolution notifying Leroux it is in breach of contract and the town reserves the right to take further action.
The contract pays Leroux $399,500 plus taxes in four instalments of $103,348.15. This winter, Leroux used close to $200,000 in salt, which the town buys separately from Cargill and let Leroux decide where and when it’s spread. Leroux also charged the town over $87,000 for sand.
A Fairhaven resident produced photos of her chewed-up front yard and demanded that the town take action only to be told the contract is headed for court, putting citizen complaints on hold.
The town has hired infrastructure analytics firm Maxxam to help conduct an examination of the town’s roads, sidewalks, aqueducts and other infrastructure to draft an intervention plan required by the province as a basis for grant applications. As I reported earlier this year, (First buy a ticket, WordPress) the town learned to its dismay there was no point applying for grants and subsidies under various federal and provincial subsidies until the intervention plan had been carried out. Total cost: $19,700.
Whether it’s Leroux’s doing or not, the town will rebuild Ridge Road without having to wait for the intervention plan. Public works will rent the equipment, the town will acquire the gravel and asphalt and get at it. Estimated cost: $23,000.
A developer seeking a zoning change in response to the shifting real-estate market received a confusing message from this council Monday night. Less than three months after approving them, council voted to withdraw the zoning bylaws which would have allowed 24 semi-detached homes instead of 12 single-family dwellings on Mayfair, near the entrance to the Hudson’s Valleys development off Harwood Blvd.
The town had the option of putting the bylaws to a referendum after a register drew more slightly signatures that were required. The town had adopted Bylaws 679 and 680 on Dec. 5 to allow smaller homes on smaller lots.
On Feb. 24, 91 residents of contiguous zones signed a register to force the bylaws to a referendum or their withdrawal. Following the register, mayor Ed Prévost told the Off-Island Gazette many residents were out of town for the winter and were thus unable to give their views on the zoning question but if he favoured a referendum, he was outvoted by a council majority. On Monday, he noted that 91 voted against, 83 for. “No further comment,” he added. Did council tally the numbers and conclude a referendum was moot?
The meeting was well attended, with the audience including a gratifying* number of young residents as well as returning snowbirds and the usual council regulars (*adjective courtesy of Jim McDermott). Mayor Ed Prévost opened the meeting with congratulations for the St. Patrick’s Parade organizers (“probably the best, certainly the longest”) and a reference to “misguided” opposition to Hudson Heartbeet, the new name for the Hudson Food Co-operative. “To put everybody’s minds at rest” the co-operative will be making a presentation May 1 to explain what they’re about. It has been suggested the town, by donating the use of agricultural land and promising water to a part of the west end not supplied by the municipal water system, is subsidizing competition to local food-basket producers and Farmer’s Market regulars.
The mayor also served notice to non-residents that while they would be free to ask questions, “it’s logical that they should be last in line. […] This is a Hudson town council meeting for the residents of Hudson, not for any other town.”
Finally, Prévost offered an explanation why the current administration had reinstated a policy paying its managers overtime. (The policy was adopted during Louise Villandré’s time as town manager and clerk, rescinded by the previous council following Villandré’s resignation, then quietly reinstated by this council in March of last year.) “Not only was the original policy not adhered to but was somewhat not conforming and that was the reason we went back to what we have now,” Prévost said. Asked to explain further, director-general Jean-Pierre Roy said the overtime ban as written did not comply with the Conseil des normes du travail and is being redrafted. “I can guarantee you that in that time, I did not authorize any overtime.”
Ramblers Association co-founder Terry Browitt wanted to know the status of the trail network in the Viviry Valley Conservation Area, the 32-hectare wetland the town acquired from the Whitlock Golf and Country Club as a result of the Whitlock West subdivision.
“It seems a shame that we have this opportunity with this beautiful piece of land the town owns down by the Viviry River ,” Browitt said. Other trails in town are being maintained and improved but the trail named in honour of the late councillor Bob Parkinson exists in name only in summer.
District 5 councillor Deborah Woodhead offered the same excuse as the previous administration. “The land the Parkinson Trail will go through is a wet area and the ministry of the environment has to be part of any structural or paths or bridge or anything we do on the Parkinson Trail.”
“It’s been three or four years now, Browitt noted.
Woodhead said she was aware of it. “We put it in the budget for 2016 and now for 2017…we’ll get to it before the end of our term, hopefully.”
Later, Jamie Nicholls noted that he had produced a preliminary report on the Parkinson trail network for Sentiers Vaudreuil-Soulanges while working as a landscape architect and biologist and has a good idea of the challenges of pushing a trail through a wetland. The town has had a copy since 2009. “If you have any questions about the directions to take, I’d be willing to talk with you about this.”
The trail is has been used as a winter snowshoing and back-country ski trail since 2005 but has led to disputes with landowners encroaching on town land negotiated as a trail right of way as part of the Hudson’s Valleys development.
Mount Pleasant resident Austin Rikley-Krindle asked why he’s having no luck finding the 2017 Plan trienniel d’investissement (PTI) on the town website or obtaining a copy through an access-to-information request. The PTI was handed out at the budget meeting but thus far it’s not available online (I’ll post it here). Rikley-Krindle also seeks the town’s total well capacity and plans to meet future demand. Town clerk Cassandra Comin Bergonzi and director-general Jean-Pierre Roy assured Rikley-Krindle he would be getting both.
Quarry Point resident Helen Kurgansky suggested that the town adopt the the practice of adding a descriptive paragraph to each resolution so residents can decipher the code on the order paper. The mayor seemed to think it was a good idea.
Several residents expressed concern at the $555,000 cost of renovating the Community Centre for the second time in five years. District 4 councillor Barbara Robinson explained that the entire cost is half that and will be borne by the federal Canada 150 infrastructure program. The town has to borrow the amount to pay for the improvements before it can be reimbursed, she explained. The kitchen doesn’t conform to workplace health and safety standards, the roof needs replacing and other work is required.
The town is still looking for a treasurer following Serge Raymond’s abrupt departure last fall, director-general Roy said in response to a question. It’s not easy to find someone this time of year, he explained. He admitted there is a schedule of reportings due, beginning with the Comparative Statements of Revenues and Expenditures due April 30. This is an early warning to residents of potential budget problems.
Footnote: The fire department has acquired a used 1995 Spartan aerial ladder for $94,990. This saves the town the cost of almost $1,000 an hour for mutual-aid assistance calling in ladders from adjacent municipalities.