Council meeting December 10, 2019

I understand that some were concerned about the lifting of the moratorium, so I wanted to share a message to residents which I felt was important. Here is my message which I shared during the council meeting:

The orientations of the city of Saint-Lazare in its conservation plan adopted in 2014 are very clear!

For example, we are talking about:

• Protecting and restoring the forest cover
• Maintain biological diversity
• Protecting wetlands
• Protecting groundwater – I would like to remind everyone that the city of Saint-Lazare obtains all of its potable water from underground water sources and that our recharge area contributes 41% to the “regional” recharge.

These orientations are consistent with the orientations of the MRC Schema, the PMAD of the CMM and the Government of Quebec.

We can also see in several documents, such as the studies by Génivar mandated by the city (2007, 2011), the PACES report (2015) and the report of the Chair Liber Ero of McGill (2016), that there are many areas of the City that have a very high ecological value. In particular, in the west of the city where our water recharge area is also located.

Despite this and despite the recommendations in the conservation plan, the previous council had not put in place the necessary measures in its bylaws to ensure the adequate protection of its natural environments and groundwater. We can also see that in the past, there have been some residential developments that have been approved and built in areas that had been deemed sensitive and of high ecological value.

Based on this new knowledge, the current elected officials… wanted to act.

That is why, a year ago already, the moratorium had been put in place. The council wanted to take some time to implement our master conservation plan and review our bylaws so that we could add the necessary tools to protect our sensitive areas and our resources in drinking water. This was also a request of our citizens.

With the help of Jean-François Girard, who is an environmental and municipal lawyer and the hard work of the environment committee, we feel we have enough tools to start implementing the appropriate regulations to achieve the objectives we had defined.

Having said that, we decided to lift the moratorium. This is good news because it means we are making progress. The elected officials want to reassure residents that we will continue to work on this issue to ensure the long-term protection of the environment and our drinking water resources. We can not continue to do things as we have always done, the stakes are too high. Ecological goods and services rendered by our natural environment play a crucial role for the entire population of Saint-Lazare. It must be emphasized that the protection of the environment is a collective responsibility. With climate change, this is even more important than ever. Our goal is to maintain a quality of life on our territory not only for today’s residents but also for our future generations.

Official Resolution 12-499-19 for the lifting of the moratorium (in French only): https://ville.saint-lazare.qc.ca/documents/ProcesVerbaux/2019/SO191210.pdf

Resolution proposed project bylaw 1079-P1

As mentioned in the text above, council felt confident that we had the proper tools to put in place bylaws to protect our ecological sensitive areas and water resources according to the orientations in the Master Conservation Plan. The first step was put in place with the draft resolution which was also passed on December 10. Resolution 12-505-19. Règlement numéro1079-P1 modifiant le règlement de zonage 771 afin d’assurer la protection du couvert forestier et de favoriser l’aménagement durable de la forêt privée. This draft bylaw will restrict tree cutting and the destruction of the ecosystem by anthropogenic uses inside the “bois et corridors forestiers métropolitains” and inside deep interior forests of 4 hectares or more. This bylaw doesn’t affect current homes or lots on existing public municipal streets. You can read the proposed bylaw 1079 in full here.

The public consultation meeting will be on Tuesday January 28th, 2020.

We will look at other bylaw changes in the new year. It is important to note that when the new MRC Schema is passed (hopefully in the spring), we will have 2 years to incorporate our conservation plan into our bylaws. This was just the first step.

Inaccuracies

In an article from Your Local Journal (December 12, 2019) regarding the lifting of the moratorium on December 10th, the mayor is quoted “Council put the moratorium in place a year and a half ago. I voted against it at the time, because it was not legal”. There are certain inaccuracies which need to be brought to light.

The moratorium was passed by resolution on November 13, 2018, which is 13 months ago, not a year and a half ago. Minor discrepancy, but who’s counting! The other inaccuracy which is more important to note is the mayor’s position on the vote for the moratorium. In fact, the reason why both former councillor Pamela Tremblay and mayor Grimaudo voted against the moratorium is because they wanted the moratorium to cover the entire territory of Saint-Lazare and not just the West sector where the most ecological sensitive areas have been identified. I discussed this in a previous post which you can read here. His position is very clear; you can watch it on the YouTube video below. So this statement in Your Local Journal is baffling to me.

As well, there was an investigation by the MAMH (not MAMOT) regarding the moratorium because there was a complaint sent to them. The actual details of the complaint and the identity of the complainant are unknown and confidential according to the Loi facilitant la divulgation d’actes répréhensibles à l’égard des organismes publics (LFDAROP). So, it is odd that the mayor seems to claim to know the details of the investigation. Perhaps the mayor had a slight lapse in memory during the interview which explains all these inaccuracies and will ask for a retraction so that residents have the correct information.

Watch between minutes 00:18:00 and 00:22:00

Going forward

We will continue to put in place bylaws according to the orientations and recommendations in the Master Conservation plan. The environmental committee has worked extremely hard at reviewing and updating the plan. Also, there is a sustainable development project coming in the new year. Residents will be invited to participate in this project. Please keep an eye out for more news in the near future.