I haven’t had much time to write in the last year. I really wish I was better and more disciplined at writing and I apologize. But today, I really felt compelled because I think what just happened at our last council meeting (November 13, 2018) really deserves some background information, explanations and clarification.
What You Should Know
For those who don’t know, in the last 8 months we’ve had a lot of controversy regarding a project that is set to be developed on domaine du Fief. This project has been in the works since 1989 but was always refused by passed councils. Until last year, when the previous council passed a resolution to change bylaws to allow for this developer to open roads in zone A002, therefore giving the green light for this project. Unfortunately, concerned residents were not aware this project was given the go ahead because they were led to believed the west of Saint-Lazare was protected under a phasing system.
Last spring, residents found out (as it was brought to council’s attention), that the proposed project on Fief was already in a very advanced stage. Over the last months, residents came to us repeatedly and voiced their concerns about how this development would possibly impact the environment and the water recharge zone. They pointed to the fact that the Fief project was right in the middle of the green corridor and had high ecological value according to several reports. The residents made the new council aware of important environmental studies that were done by the town and as well by other third party entities.
They also brought to our attention that the previous town council had produced and adopted a Conservation Master Plan (Plan Directeur de Conservation) back in 2014 but the town had never really followed through with its implementation or recommendations. This was all new information to the new council! Those residents demanded and pleaded with the mayor and council to do more homework to make sure that we were planning intelligent and sustainable developments.
With all this new information, council felt compelled to act and make sure that we had all the information needed and tools in place to make the right decisions regarding future developments and its impact on the environment and the recharge zone. The Conservation Master Plan also needed to be integrated into our bylaws. We came to the conclusion that we needed to pass a resolution (see below) and put a moratorium in place. This was not just related to the Fief development but the entire west of Cote St-Charles.
We also made it clear during the council meeting that it wasn’t an anti-development move but rather a pause so council could do the appropriate homework which hadn’t been done before to be sure that our decisions are the right ones for our residents.
Why Not A Moratorium For All Saint-Lazare
As previously mentioned, the logic behind the current moratorium was to take the time to look at the environmental impact of development on sensitive and high ecological value areas. As well, since our water recharge is situated in the west of the city, we have to make sure we have all the proper tools in place to make certain that our water resource is protected. As you can see from the map below, the green space and undeveloped land is mostly on the west side of Cote St-Charles.
The east doesn’t have the same realities and ecological value as the west end of Saint-Lazare. It is well documented in all the research documents. The east side has its own challenges (mainly traffic and infrastructure) but putting a moratorium on the entire town makes no sense.
Current developers who are trying to develop off Cité des Jeunes seemed to have been halted already by the town administration and as well by the fact that infrastructures are not there yet. Although council hasn’t closely examined any projects, the mayor already confirmed to some of them at that same council meeting that it will take years until they will see their development projects come to life. So again, for those reasons, a moratorium is not really needed for that sector.
By the way, it was also mentioned by the mayor that people in the east will be getting their water from the west which is correct. But the distinction we need to make is that the water recharge which we’re trying to protect is in the west and water “quantities” are not an issue according to Technorem reports. The mayor has also stated on several occasions in the past and assured the population that water in Saint-Lazare was not an issue. So, this argument would be contradictory to what the mayor had previously said and not a valid reason to put a moratorium in the east in my opinion.
*Saint-Lazare is actually in the process of hooking up 3 new wells in La Piniere in order to provide water to the projected maximum population (around 26,000 people).
Why Setting A Deadline Doesn’t Make Sense
It’s only appropriate that by putting a moratorium, the town needs to take the time needed to do the correct studies and homework. How can we put a time limit when we’re not even sure of what is required at the moment. The strong message from the mayor about working fast is really baffling to me. I believe the message should have been to reassure the residents that the appropriate actions and time would be taken. (minute 20:14 Je peux vous assurer que le conseil va travailler pour pas que ca se prolonge)
Only two current elected officials were in power during the previous council (this includes the mayor). It is extremely interesting that those two same elected officials voted against this moratorium. The reasoning was that they wanted a moratorium for the entire town and not just the west.
First, if you are truly worried about development and the environment as it was mentioned, it would only make sense to vote to pass this resolution. The moratorium was never an all or nothing proposition. One is not dependent on the other!
As well, I invite you to look at the map below. These are all the projects this previous council has approved during their mandate from 2013-2017 (from my calculations, there are 7). I will let you make your own conclusions.
1.Cité des papillons
2.Cité des Champs
3. Place du Parc
4. Place Moise Terrien
5. Domaine des Forestier
6. Place Verde
7. Project Fief
After getting familiar with all the existing research documents presented to us, it is clear that Saint-Lazare has a big responsibility not only towards our own residents but toward surrounding municipalities as well. It was very self-evident during the Forum sur la Vulnérabilité des Eaux Souterraines de Vaudreuil-Soulanges that the nearby communities were worried about the development of Saint-Lazare and consequences it may have on the water recharge and their potable water.
During this moratorium, we need to make sure the Saint-Lazare Conservation Master Plan is updated and integrated as much as possible into our bylaws and the land is characterised and studied to make sure we conserve what has high ecological value and have all the steps in place to protect our water source.
According to my own personal opinion, unlike what was mentioned by others, I think we need to take the appropriate time to do the right studies and homework for the benefit of all our residents.
You want to learn more:
The land area where the rain or snow seeps down into an aquifer is called a recharge area.
An aquifer is an area of soil or rock under the ground that has many cracks and spaces and has the ability to store water.
Les Faits Saillants Du Programme D’acquisition De Connaissances Sur Les Eaux Souterraines (Paces) De Vaudreuil-soulanges
For the entire and official Council meeting minutes http://ville.saint-lazare.qc.ca/en/seances
Moratoire quant au développement d’une partie du territoire municipal pour une période indéterminée
ATTENDU QUE les élus souhaitent profiter d’un temps de réflexion afin d’identifier et de mettre en vigueur les outils nécessaires à une protection adéquate des diverses ressources naturelles du milieu, entre autres l’eau potable, étant donné le plan de conservation et divers rapports communiqués à la Ville principalement en matière de biodiversité et de développement durable;
EN CONSÉQUENCE, le projet de résolution ci-dessous est soumis :
De décréter un moratoire ayant pour effet d’empêcher la délivrance de tout permis de lotissement et de tout permis construction, selon le règlement numéro 774, à compter de maintenant et pour une durée indéterminée dans les zones suivantes :
A-004, A-012, A-020, A-022
AE*-008, AE*-016, AE-002, AE-003, AE-006, AE-010, AE-014, AE-018
C*-054, C*-056, CN-024, E*-032, E*-048, E*-082, E*-084, E*-090, E-026, E-028, E-030, E-034, E-036, E-038, E-039, E-042, E-044, E-156, H*-046, H*-050, H-040
Le moratoire ci-dessus décrété ne s’applique toutefois pas si :
le permis de construction vise un seul bâtiment, un bâtiment existant, une construction accessoire ou une piscine; et
aucune nouvelle voie de circulation n’est ouverte.
Résolution adoptée à la majorité à la suite d’un vote dont le résultat est :
Membres du conseil en faveur de l’adoption de la résolution :
Membre du conseil contre l’adoption de la résolution: