The Town of Hudson has been given the green light to proceed with its plan to borrow up to $555,000 for renovations to the Hudson Community Centre and Legion.
Tuesday’s register on loan bylaw 687 gathered 363 signatures, 65 short of the 428 which would have forced a referendum or the bylaw’s withdrawal.
In announcing the results Tuesday evening, Hudson’s Director-General Jean-Pierre Roy said the town has no news from the federal ministry responsible for administering the grants program under which the town says it has applied for up to $225,000.
Roy also served notice the town will initiate legal action against Olympic resident Veronique Fischer in connection with a pamphlet sent to Hudson households the week before the register.
Fischer’s mailing criticized the expenditure in the face of more pressing priorities, such as the town’s disintegrating roads and sidewalks and a potentially disastrous water shortage.
Its appearance in mailboxes triggered a lively debate about whether the administration has been transparent in its explanation of how it proposes to obtain a Canada 150 infrastructure grant.
It also generated a number of complaints to the town because Fischer’s pamphlet included the Hudson town logo, conceivably misleading residents to think the mailing originated with the town.
Asked whether the town proposes to take action against the author of the pamphlet, Roy said it contained false and misleading information. “This will not be tolerated,” he told a small group of journalists and citizens gathered on the front steps of the town hall, Fischer included.
“We’re in favour of a public debate, but people have the right to have correct information,” Roy continued. “There will be zero tolerance [for misinformation.]
Roy didn’t elaborate on misinformation allegedly contained in Fischer’s mailing, which pointed out that the loan bylaw contains no specifics about the grant application or on how the $555,000 is to be spent.
Fischer confirmed she was the author of the mailing, which cost her roughly $500, and said the administration’s threat didn’t scare her.
“I’m a lawyer, a litigator,” she added. “Cease-and-desists are my bread and butter.”
Although loan bylaws are usually accompanied by a public consultation where citizens can learn details and see plans and diagrams for themselves, the only information released to date was a short explanation by District 4 councillor Barbara Robinson at the April council meeting and a posting on the town website. which vowed that the town wouldn’t spend the loan if it doesn’t get the grant.
Fischer, who ran against Robinson in the 2013 municipal election, has been a persistent thorn in this administration’s side. One of her issues with the Prévost administration involved the plan to borrow $1.5 million to repave a number of streets.
It was suspended by the municipal affairs ministry, in part because the 15- or 20-year term of a loan bylaw cannot exceed the life of the repair it is used to pay for. Another factor in the suspension was due to the fact that many of Hudson’s so-called public roads are still privately owned, in whole or in part.
Fischer said the current administration has balked at voting for the funding to continue the notarial and survey procedures required to transfer those private roads to the public domain.
“I fully expect to be blamed for the roads, for Pine Lake,” she added. “But I’m not easily intimidated.”
This post was updated with the following correction: Barbara Robinson represents District 4, not District 2