Council unveils new garbage policy, mum on Dunes move
Friends of Dunes Lake voice concern at council’s intentions regarding the purchase or expropriation of the 20 lots between Dunes Lake and the Bordelais Marsh Conservation Area.
by JULIE CADIEUX
ST. LAZARE — Last week’s August council meeting brought concrete answers to the questions many residents have over the trash issue.
In order for St. Lazare to conform to MRC guidelines which decree a 60-percent reduction in organic waste by 2014 and zero organic waste by 2021, the town has been forced to make changes on how they deal with trash. In 2010, its 6,500 residential and business addresses produced eight million tonnes of garbage that was dumped in the landfill. At the June town council meeting, council voted to adopt a $470k loan bylaw for the purchase of mandatory 240-litre garbage bins.
Last week the council voted to begin mechanized trash pickup of two 240-litre bins per address beginning January 2012. All but District 1 councillor Jean-Pierre Giguère voted to keep the current 36-week pickup schedule. “For the record I wanted garbage pickup every 52 weeks,” Giguère stated.
The two-bin-per-address compromise “will give residents time to adjust,” said District 5 councillor Gilbert Arsenault.
A press release with details of the new trash policy was to have been sent out this week.
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Council hasn’t decided whether to proceed directly to expropriation or attempt to negotiate a price for the 20 lots in the 40-arpent woodlot between Dunes Lake and the Bordelais Marsh conservation area.
On July 20, we reported that a Quebec Superior Court decision upheld the right of the town to expropriate all or part of the tract, listed as one of the six most environmentally sensitive areas of the town in the 2007 Genivar greenspace audit.
The 40-arpent parcel was evaluated at $1.2 million by the town’s assessor in April, 2010, after council voted to place a two-year reserve on the lots, renewable for another two years. A second bylaw adopted at that same meeting gave council the power to adopt a loan bylaw to finance the purchase or expropriation from Aloes Investments, owner of the land.
Sources say the town has not attempted to negotiate with Aloes. If it takes the expropriation route, the market value of the land would be set by a provincial expropriation tribunal. The reserve does not obligate the town to buy the land.
A dozen concerned residents and members of the Friends of Dunes Lake showed up at the August meeting to enquire about the latest turn of events and quiz councillors on how they would vote when the expropriation or purchase goes to a bylaw.
“We want to work with you, we want the town to own this property,” a spokesperson told council.
Mayor Pierre Kary said he’s optimistic. “We have the blessing of the council members, their support for negotiations and the support from residents.” Acquiring this land will be step two in the town’s conservation plans, he added. “This is one piece of the overall project that aims to create a number of national parks in the St. Lazare area.”
Councillors, while supportive of the acquisition, disagree on whether to proceed by negotiation or expropriation. Council has already mandated the mayor and town manager to negotiate with Aloes and lawyer Jocelyn Rancourt to represent the municipality in expropriation proceedings.
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Council announced their plans to grow the town’s recreation and leisure programs, centered on a $12 million aquatic center. Last year the town did a survey and over 75% of residents expressed a desire for an indoor pool. “At this stage it is a proposal, a plan,” Arsenault explained later. “To be honest, it will only happen if we can get federal or provincial help.”
Kary says the council’s strategy is to apply for funding from the provincial and federal governments. The town was a couple of years too late to apply for the Canada-Quebec Recreational Infrastructure Canada Program Agreement, but a new provincial program came out this past June which the town did apply for. Kary says the federal government should also have a recreation subsidy program coming out sometime in the fall which they will also try for. “It’s a slow process,” he admitted.
If built, the pool complex would most likely be located next to the library. “The land is zoned institutional and the town already owns it,” Arsenault added.
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The town is pushing ahead with plans for a possible multi-use trail network, but details are scant. “It’s vague right now,” Arsenault said in response to questions about the possibility of mountain biking paths in the summer and ice skating trails in the winter. “That would be great, but right now we are seeking outside help to detail what we can do and how far we can go.” Kary explained the trail network will be part of the town’s environmental policy and conservation plan to “connect the conservation areas with trails in as many places as possible.” The plan is for the trails to be limited to pedestrians and equestrians.
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Council voted to release a report that the town commissioned to look into the vibrations from Canadian Pacific’s trains as they run through town. Residents who live on Duhamel and the immediate surrounding area have been complaining not only of the noise but the intense vibration they have to live with. The report shows that the vibration levels, while not dangerous, are higher than acceptable standards. The town will be sending a copy of the report to CP as well as the Canadian Transport Agency.
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Groupe Immobilier Grilli Inc. is moving ahead with purchasing property located in St. Lazare’s industrially zoned area. “The reason that investors have not flocking to area in the past is because of the wet lands located there” said Kary. Because of this whoever purchases the land is required to purchase and donate wetland elsewhere in St. Lazare in exchange for the right to develop. The Ministère du développement durable de l’environnement et des parcs (MDDEP) requires that the donated land be turned into a conservation area.