Wakefield, Quebec councillor withdraws support for light industrial park

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by Trevor Greenway on December 23, 2010

Louis Rompre is ready to vote against the creation of a light industrial park in Wakefield, Quebec.

The La Peche Ward 6 councillor told the Low Down that he is withdrawing his support for the park – a 100-acre project – on both sides of Hwy 105 just south of the Wakefield village entrance until he and his constituents have a better understanding of what the project entails.

“I will withdraw my support until I am confident that my constituents have more information,” said Rompre.

Rompre’s move comes in light of a recent survey that suggests most Wakefielder residents don’t want the industrial park project. The survey, which polled 504 eligible voters in the Wakefield ward, said 81 per cent were against its creation.

Rompre agrees the poll carries weight, but he’s concerned about the survey, given that it was conducted by industrial park opponents. He says the survey should have polled all the wards by a third-party organization, one seen to be neutral on the issue.

“I don’t like polls that are taken that way,” said Rompre. “To be a legitimate poll, it can’t be put forward by anybody for or against the project. That’s not taking a poll, it’s gathering allies.”

Rompre also said that not every eligible voter – there are 830 in Wakefield – was polled.

However, Rompre is committed to representing the voice of Wakefield. It’s obvious to him that Wakefielders have been left in the dark on the bulk of the project and he agrees that a lot of information has been withheld.

While Rompre supports the idea of filling in the front of Hwy 105 with more commerce, he has always had an issue with possibly expropriating Wakefield’s environmental campus, Eco Echo.

He thinks that La Peche Mayor Robert Bussiere hasn’t given those most concerned – himself and Wakefielders – an understanding of the scope of the project. Rompre admits he’s fuzzy on Phase 2 of the light industrial park.

“I have a little clearer picture than my constituents, but I still don’t have the whole picture,” he said.

Phase 1 of the project deals with the west side of Hwy 105, Phase 2 the east side and the Eco Echo land.

Rompre says he’s been pushing Bussiere for added information and they have had more meetings than usual, but there is some information that can’t be released due to confidentiality. He intends to pressure the mayor for a more detailed plan concerning Phase 2.

Even though Rompre is withdrawing his support, he thinks that an industrial park could benefit Wakefield, as the workforce will need shopping outlets and restaurant services, all which could help boost the local economy.

Eco Echo owner Christopher Minnes said he has had private discussions with Bussiere, but there are no offers on the table for his land. Minnes said that the municipality has been investigating the property, but he isn’t sure how much land they’re interested in. He’s confident an agreement can be reached to avoid expropriation.

“I understand from the mayor that he respects Eco Echo and likes our presence in the community,” said Minnes. “He has said that he wants to find a way to work together, so I expect a positive discussion in the future.”

La Peche Mayor Robert Bussiere could not be reached by press time.