Pythonesque

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From the Global News June 1 morning show: Hudson mayor Ed Prévost says the town is considering asking the Régie municipal de transport to pull Hudson’s weekday train service to save $250,000. Wasn’t the train the pretext for ramrodding compliance bylaws through council?

Hudson’s June council meeting was so weird, I was looking for Monty Python characters somewhere in the audience.

Pro-mayor Natalie Best, subbing for the mayor, opened the meeting by reading a comment from Prévost, slamming residents for circulating fake news and denouncing candidates for using public meetings to campaign for November’s municipal elections and dupe their fellow citizens.

The nearly three-hour session was highlighted by incoherent retractions of previous comments and resolutions modified on the fly. Among the revisions: a bylaw clearing the way for construction of Villa Wyman, an assisted-care seniors’ residence next to Wyman Memorial United Church, will now be subjected to a June 20 public consultation, possible registry and referendum. The controversial proposal to move Wyman and its parking lot into a commercial zone (C-27) will not, since it is now part of the town’s compliance bylaws.

The packed agenda was book-ended by question periods comprised mainly of rants against the adoption of bylaws 688, 689 and 690. These bring the town’s master development and land use plan into compliance with those of the Montreal Metropolitan Community (MMC) and the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC. Critics charge the town with using them as the pretext to permit uncontested development.

The evening ended with the revelation that the absent Mayor Ed Prévost had bushwhacked his own council with a Trump-like blurt that raises serious questions about the legitimacy of his administration’s policy regarding densification of the town core. It also sparked a surreal exchange (“YOUR mayor! No, he’s YOUR mayor!”).

The issue: without consultation with this or previous town administrations, the MMC and MRC classified Hudson’s downtown core as a transport-oriented development, or TOD, on the basis of the single commuter train to and from Montreal on non-holiday weekday mornings and evenings and a shuttlebus service to Vaudreuil and West Island destinations.

Unlike previous administrations, this council has voiced no resistance to the imposition of the CMM/MRC guidelines despite the urging of residents who see it as a threat to Hudson’s small-town heritage. Council’s mantra: Compliance won’t change Hudson’s character.

The administration’s main argument in support of compliance: Hudson will have a stronger say in modifying or reversing CMM/MRC policy once it complies; until then, development projects are stalled. The sooner, the better.

The opposition sees a hidden agenda in the administration’s haste to pass the compliance bylaws: it allows the town to use the harmonized land-use and development regulations to ram through controversial projects. Over the past several weeks, council members and administrators have made comments since retracted or qualified, such as Hudson being the only MRC municipality not to have complied. (Five of the 11 MRC members in the CMM have not done so).

Delay supporters point to alternatives, such as moving the TOD circle east to a proposed intermodal passenger terminal located in the vicinity of where Como’s Montée Manson crosses the AMT right of way (ROW). Hudson would have its TOD and the possibility of a lateral access road to relieve Bellevue and Main Road of the traffic to and from the Oka ferry. Rail commuters living in St. Lazare and Vaudreuil-Dorion would have faster, easier access to a public transit facility with plenty of parking. More users would mean more trains.

Closure of the ROW would allow Hudson to plan and lobby for a non-motorized usage corridor and/or east-west road on the former ROW between Montée Manson and the centre of town. Either way, cyclists and pedestrians would have a safe alternative to having to share Hudson’s narrow streets.

The community centre was packed with a vocal crowd either for or against compliance, which commits the town to tripling the density of a one-kilometre semicircle around the railway station.

The sports-bar atmosphere was reinforced with the presence of two public security agents at the doors. The anti-compliance fans applauded whenever one of their stars scored on the council and walked out en masse when councillors voted to adopt the compliance bylaws.

Mayor Ed’s shocker came near the end of the second question period, when Charleswood resident Louise Craig asked when the town was proposing to close the railway station. Councillors clearly had no idea what she was referring to until she explained that the mayor was quoted in a June 1 Global News story on their Montreal morning show.
Billy Shields quotes Prévost saying that with a daily ridership of less than 50 people the town’s $250,000 bill is “preposterous.”

Shields’s story continues: “With the reformulation of the commuter rail agency into a new outfit dubbed the RTM [Réseau de transport métropolitain], Prevost said the town is thinking of closing its train station.”

Pro-mayor Best, who represents the town on the regional transit file, denied any knowledge of discussions to pull out of the RTM. (I can find no legal precedent for any CMM municipality pulling out of the RTM or its predecessor, the Agence métropolitaine de transport.)

I can think of three possibilities. One, Global misquoted Prévost and the mayor will demand a retraction. Two, Prévost doesn’t share with his council, which isn’t healthy. Three, the folks at the front of the room are excellent poker players and the conspiracy theorists were right when they saw the TOD as the pretext to densify.

Whatever, it sparked a lighthearted moment, or maybe it’s just me after too many evenings spent in consultations. Craig used the term “YOUR mayor” when referring to Prévost. “He’s YOUR mayor,” a council member shot back. Hmm. No love there.

New treasurer
Hudson has a new treasurer, Claudia Ouellette, a no-nonsense fiscalist who spent the past five years with a software provider for Quebec municipalities. Prior to that, she worked in finance departments in Côte St. Luc, Otterburn Park and elsewhere. Her aim is to get Hudson’s ledgers in order after a revolving door of treasurers.

Salaries to be made public
Town clerk Cassandra Comin Bergonzi reassured Eva McCartney the town will be releasing the salaries of non-unionized town employees as soon as possible. (Union wage scales are already public.) McCartney sharply questioned council in the wake of allegations the town was deliberately stalling their release. Comin Bergonzi blamed the volume of access to information requests for the delay.

Conservation plan tabled
The town’s conservation plan, an essential component of the land use compliance process, was tabled after getting the province’s approval. Residents were assured it will be posted on the town’s website, although the version currently posted dates back to last July. According to provincial regulation, it requires another public consultation and final adoption by council.

Another 60 grand

Hudson taxpayers peeled off another 60 grand for Dunton Rainville, the town’s legalists of choice. It sparked another who-are-we-suing-now query and assurances the town is down to maybe six, seven or eight files. But hey, who’s counting?

Wooing the Coast Guard

The Canadian Coast Guard wants to locate a high-speed search and rescue boat and shore facility somewhere on the Lake of Two Mountains, but has yet to make a final decision. The town says the Hudson Fire Department’s 21-foot rigid inflatable is too small  to fill a patrol-boat mission and an expanded, rebuilt town wharf would be an ideal location for a larger craft. A number of other municipalities on the lake are in the competition, town director-general Jean-Pierre Roy said.

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10 thoughts on “Pythonesque

  1. It’s amazing how some days the legal costs are troubling to some residents, and other days it is perfectly okay with them.

    In Fishers God sent pamphlet to the community center non renovators, 363 people to be exact, she quotes as saying I feel “taxed to death”. Apparently that statement ends when it comes to taking the Town of Hudson to the access to information tribunal come this Novemeber, all because the town has decided not to release the salary of it’s directors. Seriously though, who cares? A director makes 72,000$-95,000$. But that’s not good enough for Fisher. We will all be forced to pay for this kangaroo tribunal and via Dunton Rainville. I guess not taxed so much to death when it comes to making me spend useless money on court cases.

    If that’s acceptable to everyone, then they need to shut up about the legal fees every month. It’s not acceptable to me. It’s not acceptable to many taxpayers. To wastefully spend money on stupidity. Louise Villandre made 100,000$ on the books.. and how much off the books?

    Every time Fisher does something like this, I feel like I have a front row seat to the movie where someone is trying to collapse the Roman Empire with a rubber hammer to the tune of the Benny Hill song when everyone is chasing after each other.

    It must be causing lots of sleep loss not knowing Paul Boudreau’s salary.

    Changing subjects before I start bashing my head on a wall, I found the global piece weird. I’m skeptical of Global.. their main source is Facebook. Now if they picked up on some Facebook ramblings that may be where this is coming from. Similar to Jim Duff, I also don’t see a legal president to removing yourself from the train service. It’s tied into the MMC which we are. The mayor will be unable to wave a magic wand and simply make the train disappear.

    Nor do I doubt the AMT would sell it. The line to Rigaud is still listed as active, railways crossings are checked monthly into Rigaud. It costs the AMT less money to keep it an active ROW then it does to file for abandonment.

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  2. Kevin, the new Treasurer stated last night that these numbers will be given to VF. No hearings required.

    Some lawyers see the law as justice and fairness, others see it as a sharp edged weapon. Our administration’s over-reaction, insecurity and over consultation runs the bills up.

    We could just have Public Security shuttle passengers to Vaudreuil cheaper than having the one train per day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The late Steve Shaar used to say it would be cheaper to buy every train commuter a new car. He’s wrong. It would be cheaper to lease.
    I look at it another way. It would be cheaper to elect visionaries who can play on the MRC, CMM, Quebec and federal levels and pay them decent living salaries to lobby for the inclusion of an electric LRT line in plans currently being drafted for the Ile aux Tourtes bridge replacement. The biggest mistake we make in our North American way of seeing democracy is assuming that by underpaying elected officials, we attract people for the right reasons.
    Peter, you commute to the West Island before and after the traffic. Anyone who commutes downtown can reasonably expect to spend 80-90 minutes each way (INRIX traffic analytics). This will only get worse.
    I see quick, dependable, accessible public transit as an essential component of a sustainable Hudson. The Express 40 bus between Vaudreuil and Cote Vertu metro is just one component.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe you were instrumental in the discovery of the massive defects of the Ile aux tortes bridge. If you remember your boat trip with the engineer. I feel you broke this story about the devastating state of the bridge. I remember in one Hudson Gazette.. the minister in charge said it had 50 years left, two weeks later they said it needed to be replaced within 2,3 or 5 years after you had done your tour du pont.

      Not on topic. But it’s the things I remember. I believe it was Brian White you went with.

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    2. In my ideal world, within 40km of a metro center public transit gets you almost everywhere almost anytime.

      Even better, it probably should just be free, a fixed cost spread over everyone in a society to have freedom of movement without owning a car or over polluting. Make city parking expensive, or tolls into downtown.

      But the current world can’t find the responsibility to maintain infrastructure, let alone build new infrastructure. So until then we’re stuck with old thinking and old ways.

      Still, we should develop more creative and greener technology. There’s perhaps room in the future in many places for an ultra-light automated Electric feeder shuttle for 20 people per trip running on the existing rails and feeding into Vaudreuil. It’s a short run and small load, so solar power into batteries most of the day and a Chevy Volt type of back-up generator to keep it running if there’s no sun. Saves running power down the line and the existing racks are way overbuilt and would last forever.

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      1. Rail riding is the future , Peter. There are even tours in some countries. Abandoned rail lines are given over to bike contraptions that rest on the rails. I big pedal shove can carry you a mile on that friction free steel. I am presently working on a wind powered model. I’ll ask Jim how to tack. Some of the old abandoned mining railways in Arizona and New Mexico are like the day they were built. Can you imagine sailing along one of those through the deserts and mountains.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That would require a new procurement. AMT already has bi-modal diesel/electrics for its Mascouche line. They’re not ideal, but installing an electric overhead line from Hudson to Vaudreuil is probably the most cost effective rail solution. The only sticking point are the level crossings as the electric line has to be high enough not to snag trucks crossing the tracks. But I’m sure this problem has an engineered solution.

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  4. It’s amazing to me , Kevin , how you can turn an access to information request ,that the Town acknowledges is public knowledge , around on the person making the request. Is it the person or the request you object to. No tax payer money need be spent , the Town just has to answer. It’s totally their decision to go for the lawyers.
    As to how active the Hudson to Rigaud line is , hey , I’m an expert. I live beside it. There hasn’t been a maintenance vehicle along here in years. There are big gaps where the ties have actually disappeared with sumac growing down the center . Snakes , ticks, and deerflies are regular users though. I think when they tore the line up west of Rigaud to Vankleek Hill and beyond to make a pedestrian/cyclist corridor it didn’t change ownership . The various towns ,I think , just maintain it with CPR approval . AMT or the new bunch might not be so altruistic.

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  5. I have pictures of snakes using the railroad tracks indeed. The AMT or their subcontractor RailX were repairing the railroad lights at the intersection of Ch. De l’anse, off the 342 in Rigaud last week. A truck had made a tight turn and knocked them over. So yes, as hard as it is to believe the tracks still list as active. Even though there hasn’t been a train in 9 years now. All crossings have to be verified, The phone number on the back of the crossbuck must lead to a operator, and it also must clearly state the owner of the right of way. As per the incorporated railway act.

    Now to address your issue with my issue. I have no issue with the individual. I have every issue with this even being an issue. I blame the town for being hard headed, and I blame VF for being equally hard headed, if not worse. Hard heads get everyone nowhere. It’s like stepping on the gas and brake at the same time, without realizing the car is upside down in a ditch. I take no exception to anyone, nor do I have a grudge against anyone. I have a grudge against paying the lawyers a dime more then necessary. I think we’ve paid the lawyers enough. I’m not for spending any more money on Louise Villandre, Catherine Hullard OR Véronique Fisher. ..

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