Martin C. Barry
A tree clearcutting op conducted in the City of Deux-Montagnes for the construction of an overpass along du Lac Boulevard by REM train line builder CDPQ Infra left Mayor Denis Martin with no choice but to explain during the February city council that Deux-Montagnes has no control over what the developer does here.
No permit needed
As the mayor explained during the sparsely-attended Feb. 13 meeting, Deux-Montagnes and other municipalities located along the REM line lost all rights to enforce local by-laws for offenses such as illegal tree cutting when the Quebec government passed a decree several years back granting CDPQ Infra legal immunity while it builds the REM.
“The City of Deux-Montagnes was informed of this cut,” said the mayor. “The REM has no need to ask permission nor any need for a permit from the City of Deux-Montagnes. Law 137 excuses them.” In all, a total of 78 trees were cut in the vicinity of the future Grand-Moulin REM station.
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Trees ‘in conflict’ with REM
In a letter to the City of Deux-Montagnes, a representative of the REM developer said the trees to be cut “were in conflict” with future structures to be used in conjunction with the station and the REM train line.
“I would like to assure you that our team is careful to make clear to citizens that the REM is not subject to municipal regulations and that permits are deposited with cities for informational purposes only,” a REM official said in a statement read out by Mayor Martin.
“Perhaps this message is misunderstood by citizens who think that cities must authorize permits or can object. We wish to assure you that we are also clarifying things on this point.”
As a consequence of all this, CDPQ Infra has agreed to hold a meeting with residents on Feb. 24, where the company pledges to improve communications. In the meantime, according to the mayor, some major work on REM development in Deux-Montagnes will only be taking place around the main Deux-Montagnes REM station on Deux-Montagnes Blvd. in 2021 at the earliest.
All the same, the mayor said the city remains particularly concerned about the work to be done there, as it will take place near the Réserve naturelle du Boisé-Roger-Lemoine.
‘Few if any powers’
“We are little bit skeptical as to how they are going to be able to work around that area,” said the mayor, adding that the city will be seeking explanations to this during the Feb. 24 meeting. “And again, we may have few if any powers, but we have to speak with them so that they come to understand our territory.”
In other developments during the meeting, a notice of motion was tabled indicating that council intends to modify the by-law governing remuneration of the elected officials so that the mayor’s salary increases to $83,000 per year (from the current $74,000 that he’s paid).
New hire at Public Works
With the workload apparently increasing at the city’s public works director, council formalized the hiring of a new associate-director at public works to assist current director Jean. B. Fayomi.
The new hire’s name is Gabriel Persechino. As per the standard municipal hiring practices, he is on probation for the next six months until council confirms the hiring as permanent.
During question period, Troy Ewenson, formerly of the Deux-Montagnes Softball Association, got up to the microphone to challenge the city’s decision to implement steep increases to user fees for softball players who are non-residents. Under the new structure, $100 is added to the $50 fee for non-residents for the 2020 softball season.
Non-resident ball fees rise
The mayor explained that some neighbouring municipalities such as Saint-Eustache have been charging at least $125 fee to Deux-Montagnes residents to play in Saint-Eustache. As well, he said Saint-Eustache levies many other fees to non-residents for use of their facilities. He said a similar system is in place in the municipalities of Pointe-Calumet, Saint-Joseph and others.
Ewenson replied, “You’re asking a kid that was paying $50 to play $150 to play softball? And they’re not playing $150 to play softball, they’re paying $50 and then going to hand over a cheque to the city for $50. That doesn’t make any sense at all, sir. This is not reasonable.”