by JULIE CADIEUX
ST. LAZARE — The town is expected to make an announcement later this week about the timing of a register and possible referendum on the draft bylaw clearing the way for resto-bars in the commercial district.
A controversial petition campaign against the bylaw produced enough eligible signatures to force registers in six of seven commercial districts where restaurants would be allowed to serve alcohol without food. A seventh district, along with a number of adjoining residential sectors, didn’t produce enough signatures.
If the bylaw survives the register it would permit restaurants to add a bar section where alcohol could be served without food in the seven commercial zones on Ste. Angélique between Montée St-Robert and Champêtre. It would restrict a restaurant’s bar section to 35 percent of the floor space up to a maximum of 150 square metres. The remaining 65 percent of the business would only be allowed to serve alcohol accompanied by a food order.
The bylaw was narrowly adopted 4-3 at the September council meeting, with mayor Pierre Kary breaking the tie vote. Since then, a debate has raged over whether the bylaw should be restricted to between Daniel and Charles-Goulet or apply to the larger commercial district.
Residents are torn. While few disagree with Kary’s “commercial activity will attract further commercial activity and provide a greater diversity of services to residents,” some residents are fearful of change and increased traffic. “I moved here because it’s not the West Island,” says Maurice, a new home owner. Others are excited about the plan. “I like that Hudson has more cute, fun restaurant and hang out places, it would be nice if we had that in St. Lazare,” explained Julie.
One former St. Lazare restaurant owner with nothing left to lose in the outcome accused competitors of using underhanded methods to shut him down for serving liquor without meals. He described going through two administrations trying to get his bar permit passed.
“I was okayed by the SQ, I was okayed by the Régie, but the city’s urban planner said there’s no way, NO WAY!” he recalls. He never wanted to stay open until 3 a.m., he says. All he wanted was “to have a place for locals to come listen to bands, grab a bite to eat and a couple of drinks the way people in Hudson can.”
He claims the town and his competitors found creative ways to make it too difficult for him to run a successful business and he finally closed after racking up several thousand dollars in fines.
The Hudson St. Lazare Gazette – October 5th, 2011 – Julie Cadieux