by JIM DUFF and JULIE CADIEUX
ST. LAZARE — How many meetings should a city councillor be allowed to skip before he or she is sanctioned?
Opposition councillors Michel Lambert, Brigitte Asselin and Jean-Claude Gauthier were pushing the issue after District 2 councillor and pro-mayor Nathalie Richard missed the June, July and August council meetings.
Richard told the Hudson/St. Lazare Gazette she missed the first two council sessions due to work, while the third was a vacation that she told council about at the January council meeting: she has taken the same date in August for the past 10 years.
While the opposition interprets provincial regulations to allow no more than 90 days between missed meetings, Richard and her colleagues insist no action can be taken against her until she misses more than three sessions. (She attended last night’s meeting.)
“Council sessions are a very small portion of what we do,” Richard said, adding that she goes to all the meetings they have and is aware and involved in all that comes up. The provincial regs make no mention of caucus meetings, working tables or other closed-door functions.
The issue is a touchy one in St. Lazare, where the late District 2 councillor Gaetan Aubé often missed several consecutive meetings as he battled cancer. Although council could have forced a byelection, it was never made an issue.
The town is questioning a Base de Plein Air des Cèdres request to the MRC asking permission to turn it into a regional recreational centre. Saint-Lazare council has agreed it’s the wrong time for the city to get involved since they are currently in discussions with the city of Les Cèdres as to how the centre — located on the border of the two municipalities — should be run and operated. 75 percent of La Pinière Park, which has trails used for equestrian, walking and cross country trails is within St. Lazare. The town of St-Lazare would like to be active and perhaps have some kind of partnership with La Base de Plein air in regards to these 200 hectares.
Mayor Pierre Kary says council is continuing to work on a strategic operation in regards to hammering out the waste management issue. They want to “give residents the right infrastructure and are taking steps in the right direction” such as the autumn leaf pick up, he added.
Although the MRC provides the leaf pick up service, last year St. Lazare offered residents paper bags and helped promote the pick up, resulting in 340 tons of leaves picked up compared to 2009, with 127 tons and 2008, with 90 tons. Last year the MRC picked up 946 tons of leaves, 340 of those from St. Lazare alone.
Hudson St-Lazare Gazette, Julie Cadieux, September 7th 2011