Have we a problem?

Many people in the town will have seen posts in the ‘Our Town’ Facebook group yesterday about potential soil contamination behind the Red Barn that has been unearthed during recent work on the new sports facility. Questions were asked by several members of the group … to the best of our knowledge this is the current situation. Any questions will need to be directed to the town hall.

Feeling intrigued, CM deviated a little from his regular morning constitutional and wondered if anything was to be seen as it’s the weekend and nobody is working there today.

Between the new installation and the fence surrounding the children’s play-area at Whiteside-Taylor we found a deep square hole with mesh over the top to prevent accidents (see photo) about where pictures yesterday showed people in high-vis jackets looking concerned. Next to it under a plastic sheet is what we took be a spoil heap of earth from the hole. Rubbing a small handful between our fingers we were immediately aware of a quite strong and characteristic smell of oil. Obviously it’s early days yet and tests on soil samples will have to be performed to identify the substance – but that’s what it smelled like.

Many residents will probably look forward to hearing how extensive this contamination is and what steps might be taken to clean it up.  Hopefully the affected area is small and well localized and can be easily dealt with.

Note:  Needless to say, we are not engineers but to pick an information source at random (http://www.oilspillprevention.org/oil-spill-cleanup/land-oil-spill-cleanup ) we learned that “… recovery of spilled oil is a top priority, as it can leach into groundwater or enter rivers and streams as run-off” and although one would expect translocation or leaching of hydrocarbons sub-surface to be a fairly prolonged process the groundwater in town drains towards the river.

A Citizen’s comment on the Bertold Park issue

English Version          La version française suit

 

The Future of Our Bertold Park

On June 26, 2018, many of us attended the public consultation meeting about the future of Bertold Park. According to one of the citizens stepping up to the microphone, the presentation, by the chairperson of the committee that had studied the issue and identified four possible solutions, was one of the best ever given in our town. As we all know, however, it is in the end Council that has to decide how to go forward.

That decision apparently has been taken. The Mayor advised us at the regular council meeting of July 10 last, of Council’s decision to develop Bertold Park as a ‘shared’ facility, meaning it will be developed for the enjoyment by all, that is, families, joggers, dog owners and their animals. She added that given the complexity of accommodating the different kinds of users may cause all elements of the arrangement not to be worked out before the spring of next year.

That the decision is illegal does not seem to bother our Council. The Cities and Towns Act could not be any clearer, its section 322 requiring that “the sittings of the council shall be public”. Since between the public consultation on June 26 and the regular council meeting of July 10 our Municipal Council did not hold a public sitting, one even has to wonder how the Council’s decision about Bertold Park has been recorded. There is, of course, nothing that prevents the members of Council to meet at any time, wherever they please and leave no records, but they clearly are not to take decisions on behalf of the town at occasions other than public sittings.

Why are Baie-D’Urfé’s citizens, particularly those who took the trouble to go to the polls last November and elect the new Council, deprived of hearing their representatives debate an issue like the development of Bertold Park and of seeing which way they vote? As the Law intends it.

Paul Egli, 65 St. Andrew’s, Baie-D’Urfé, QC

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Version française      The English version precedes

 

L’Avenir de Notre Parc Bertold

Le 26 juin 2018, plusieurs d’entre nous ont assisté à la réunion de consultation publique sur l’avenir du parc Bertold. Selon l’un des citoyens qui a pris le micro, la présentation par la présidente du comité, qui a étudié la question et identifié quatre solutions possibles, est l’une des meilleures qui aient jamais eu lieu dans notre ville. Cependant, comme nous le savons tous, il incombe au Conseil municipal de décider comment aller de l’avant.

Cette décision a apparemment été prise. La Mairesse nous a informés lors de la séance ordinaire du conseil du 10 juillet dernier de la décision du Conseil de faire du Parc Bertold une aire «partagée», c’est-à-dire aménagée pour le plaisir de tous: familles, joggeurs, propriétaires de chiens et leurs animaux. Elle a ajouté qu’à cause de la complexité de l’accueil des différents types d’utilisateurs on ne devrait pas s’attendre à ce que tous les éléments de l’arrangement soient élaborés avant le printemps prochain.

Que la décision soit illégale ne semble pas déranger notre Conseil. La Loi sur les cités et villes ne peut pas être plus claire, son article 322 exigeant que «les séances du conseil sont publiques». Puisque, entre la consultation publique du 26 juin et la réunion ordinaire du conseil du 10 juillet notre conseil municipal n’a pas tenu de séance publique, on se demande même comment sa décision concernant le parc Bertold a pu être enregistrée en bonne et due forme. Il n’y a, bien sûr, rien qui empêche les membres du Conseil de se réunir à n’importe quel moment, où ils veulent et sans laisser des traces, mais il est évident que la Loi ne leur permet pas de prendre des décisions au nom de la ville en dehors des séances publiques.

Pourquoi les citoyens de Baie-D’Urfé, notamment ceux qui se sont donnés la peine d’aller aux urnes en novembre dernier pour élire le nouveau Conseil, sont-ils privés d’entendre leurs représentants débattre d’un enjeu comme le développement du Parc Bertold et de les voir voter? Conformément à la Loi.

Paul Egli, 65 St. Andrew’s, Baie-D’Urfé, QC

N’hésitez pas à m’envoyer un courriel si vous désirez commenter ce message. J’espère que vous allez encourager d’autres citoyens intéressés à se faire ajouter à ma liste de diffusion. Comme mentionné ci-dessus, si mon analyse de la gestion de Baie-D’Urfé ne vous intéresse pas vous pouvez répondre à ce courriel et demander à être retiré de la liste.

Notes from 10 July Council Meeting

There was a good attendance at this council meeting with quite a number of people wanting to hear the update on the Bertold Park plans. Almost 30 residents were present.

Here is a summary of the main topics that were addressed:

Morgan Arboretum

A question was asked about there being nothing on the agenda in response to an earlier request to provide subsidised membership of the Arboretum in the same way that Ste-Anne does for its residents. The Mayor said that this was still under discussion and asked for a show of hands amongst those present as to how many there would take advantage of such a scheme if it was offered – lots of hands went up. We hope that this initiative will bear fruit.

Nurturing Neighbours

The town is considering starting a support group for the house-bound and isolated seniors in the town. Regular visits for a chat, help with small problems, a bit of advocacy etc. Such schemes have proved popular and beneficial in other communities. Whether it takes off will depend on how many fit and able residents feel they would like to participate – if you are interested in this concept why not get in touch with the Mayor?

Correspondence – Trees and development

A letter had been received from a group of around ten residents concerned about the apparent increase in tree felling that accompanies demolitions and house building. The writers asked for details of the guidelines used by the town before giving permits. We were told that the bylaws require all new constructions to “preserve as many trees as possible”. If a tree has to be felled it must be replaced by a comparable species. Trees liable to damage must be protected during construction work and a fenced off area around the tree to protect roots from soil compression must be maintained (CM-note: that may be the intention of the bylaws but it is clear that the protected zone is not large enough and is not monitored adequately – see http://citizenmarat.sparroworks.ca/protecting-trees-1/) Cllr Ryan said that twice recently they committee had asked for plans to be modified in order to preserve trees.

Riverbank Stabilisation

A contract has now been awarded and work will commence in August, taking about three weeks. Phase one addresses the riverbank in front of the town hall. Appropriate plantings of native shrubs and small trees will be made along the bank such that views of the lake are maintained.

Urban Forest

A grant, to be matched by the town, has been awarded that willl allow improvements to the urban forest to be made around John-Weir Park where a lot of ash trees have been lost. There will be a “community involvement event” on 13 October at which educational environmental workshops will be run by GUEPE (https://www.guepe.qc.ca) and it intended to create “Les Amis de Parc John-Weir”. Provincial and Federal environment politicians have been invited to attend.

Trees Again !!

Over 200 trees this year have been planted in the Industrial Park and the plan is for a similar number to be planted each of the next few years. Tremendous support for this initiative has come from businesses in the park.

Bertold Park (Dogs)

After about 150 residents attended the recent information session the councillors were inundated with communications and suggestions about how best to manage the future of Bertold Park – some 500 residents have offered ideas; perhaps, the Mayor said, the greatest community involvement the town has ever known.

After reviewing all the options, listening to residents and taking on board the report produced by the Parks and Recreation Committee it has been decided (by a majority of councillors, it was not unanimous) that Option #3 will be adopted (see the report posted here from the public meeting http://citizenmarat.sparroworks.ca/bertold-park-the-future-and-the-dogs/)

Thus, the future of the park will involve shared useage such that a “harmonious” use allowing for young and old, walkers and picnicers, as well as a demarcated off-leash dog run area can be maintained and enjoyed by everyone. The town administration have been asked to prepare detailed plans for setting this up and installing necessary fencing etc. Solutions will be found to encourage adequate enforcement of regulations, safety etc. The town admin will be talking to the various stakeholders and “best pratice” will be followed throughout. This is a very complex project and although it is hoped to be commenced in the fall it probably will not be completely in place before spring of 2019.

Note – no vote was taken on this by council so the final solution is still open to modification if necessary. Presumably they will wait for a proposal from the admin group before setting this in stone.

Traffic

Stop signs will be placed at the junction of Churchill and Westchester following a couple of serious accidents due to speeding.

Bike Path

Plans for the reconstruction of path running across Fritz Park in front of the community building are being sought. This path is in very bad condition.

Tree felling Penalties

Council was asked if they would consider increasing the fines levied on people who fell trees without permits. Cllr Ryan sid that all fines are being revisited and this was certainly on the list to receive attention.