Fire victim sues, mayor’s salary bylaw resurfaces
by JULIE CADIEUX ST. LAZARE — Resident Allan Bassenden is suing the town for the loss of his home in a fire that took place this past March, leaving him, his wife Joni Malley, their adult daughter Nathalie Gagnon and her teenage daughter Bianca Gagnon living in a trailer on their property. News of the lawsuit emerged when council was asked to vote on a resolution earmarking funds to hire a lawyer to fight the lawsuit. Bassenden contends the firefighters took too long getting water on the garage fire, while firefighters insist they had to search the house to make sure no one was trapped inside. The cause of the fire is still unknown but Bassenden’s insurer cancelled their coverage and rejected their claim, saying that Bassenden admitted to running a business repairing cars in the garage which was a violation of his homeowner’s policy. Mayor Pierre Kary wouldn’t discuss the case other than to say he’s proud of St. Lazare’s firefighters. “They risked their lives to enter a burning building to try to locate the person reportedly still in the building. I am confident that our service provided a high level of professional service in this instance as they do in every instance our residents call upon them,” he said. • • • Among the notices of motion for resolutions to be presented at the next council meeting: • A small section of an underdeveloped residential sector located along Ste. Angélique between Daniel and des Marionettes (behind Home Hardware and Caisse Desjardins) should be annexed to the commercial zone C-202 to accommodate a proposed commercial project. • An ethics code which the town is required to adopt by December as per provincial legislation. • Another attempt to make the mayor’s office a full-time job. Council was originally asked in April to approve a resolution to pay the mayor $69,500 plus $14,500 in expenses, but the resolution was withdrawn when a majority of councillors said they would oppose it. Since then, the council has split down the middle, with Kary forced to break the tie on more than one occasion. Although provincial law permits elected municipal officials to claim additional stipends for committee and working table appearances, Kary had said back in April that the bylaw won’t make any provision for MRC, MMC and other meetings and committee deliberations. Vaudreuil was the first town in the MRC to adopt a per-capita salary structure in 2009 and should council pass the bylaw St. Lazare will be the second MRC municipality to vote its mayor a salary.
The Hudson St. Lazare Gazette – October 5th, 2011 – Julie Cadieux