St. Lazare: Dunes, bugs and trash dominate
by JULIE CADIEUX
ST. LAZARE — Last Tuesday evening’s council meeting was packed with residents upset about the possibility council would repeal the bylaw imposing a four-year reserve on the woodlot between Dunes Lake and the Bordelais bog.
Judy Nagy addressed the council at the meeting, asking why they would want to pass a motion to remove the reserve on 14 of the lots that would allow Aloes Investments to proceed with its original development plans. Lyse Jolicoeur took over, adding that the Canada Day weekend brought teenagers and bonfires to the Dunes.
David Hill also a concerned resident and member of Voices for Nature made his concerns clear. “The big thing is I don’t want to wake up one morning and be like, they (council) made a decision without us.”
However no one, including mayor Pierre Kary would give a firm answer. Kary would say only that no decision on the land can be made while the town’s right to expropriate for environmental reasons was still before the court. District 6 councillor Jean-Claude Gauthier attempted to assure the crowd that “this council will make a decision on facts,” adding “we run a city, this is a business.”
David Fletcher, of the Green Coalition attended the meeting and did not appreciate Gauthier’s comments. “The land presents value that is not monetary and should be preserved,” he said.
A St. Lazare realtor, quoted on the condition that he not be identified, said although he and other realtors depend on a mix of attractive neighbourhoods, low taxes and greenspaces, he doesn’t agree with the reserve the mayor put on the Dunes.
“The land was zoned residential by the town and going to court with the developer, they will never win that game,” he added. “You can’t take away someone’s rights.”
He said he’s has seen private land owners who have held on to land for years as their retirement plan only to lose everything because of a few residents who demand the town buy up the land for greenspace or for environmental reasons. “It’s easy to vilify developers,” he said, “but sometimes they are just little old ladies.”
What are the Dunes worth? In 2007 the town evaluated it at $1.7 million. Today land in St. Lazare will cost $125K to $135K for 18,000 to 21,000 square feet. In the Dunes, because “it’s special” it would be more like be $135Kfor a similar lot size and on the lake, $200K and up. The realtor has no clue how much of the 40 acres is usable or how much infrastructure would cost the developer. He feels it’s a ‘fools game’ for the mayor, explaining that if he appeases the 15 people affected with the Dunes being developed, it would create a precedent to buy the sand pits in the middle of Chanterelle, “which affects hundreds.”
Next up was Isabelle Lemay, representing home owners of Chaline Valley, a neighbourhood in the southeastern corner of St. Lazare where residents are frustrated with mosquitoes due to the bad drainage and stagnant water in the poorly maintained ditches. Lemay presented council with a petition signed by 250 residents — close to 98 percent of all residents of the area. “I grew up in the country and a few mosquitoes don’t bother me” she said, then went on to describe how Chaline Valley is infested and many regret ever buying homes there.
Lastly the garbage issue was brought up again. One particular resident stressed to council that even though it is only he and his wife who live in their home, they own a large property and simply cannot ever foresee “one trash bin per home being enough.” Kary said that he and the council understand everyone’s concerns and is still looking at all the options but the fact remains that in two and a half years St. Lazare will have to conform to the MRC’s guidelines of a 60-percent reduction in organic waste by 2014, and zero organic waste by 2021.
Council remains split over whether to allow two 240-litre bins per household or return to weekly pickup, rather than the 36-week schedule in effect for two years. Kary and some councillors favour a return to the 52-week schedule and limiting pickup to one bin per household.
District 4 councillor Michel Lambert leads the opposition arguing for retaining the 36-week schedule, allowing two bins for the first year and adding a monthly large-item pickup for the time it takes to open the four regional eco-centres and a separate composting pickup.