Wakefield, Quebec reacts to urban plan

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by Trevor Greenway on July 8, 2009

July 8, 2009 – Too much and too fast  was the message from the majority of the 50-some residents who spoke up about Wakefield, Quebec’s  Programme particulier d’urbanisme (PPU) at the La Peche council meeting July 6.

For one land owner, too much was the 150 acres Dave Saunders owns behind Vorlage ski resort that the village’s new urban plan has earmarked as undevelopable green space. He showed up at the meeting asking councillors to take that part of the plan off the PPU.

“That 150 acres has quite an impact on the company,” said the ski hill owner, adding that he is looking to eventually expand the ski resort in the future.

“Land is an asset.”

By committing the land to preserved green space, Saunders told council that the situation is basically “expropriation without compensation”.

Saunders then slammed a petition on the table with 465 signatures of residents and business owners who are against the proposed conservation zone.

Catherine Timmons of Edelweiss also spoke up, saying that the entire PPU plan is being put through in a hurry. She said she wants more time for public consultation, as she only heard about the PPU two weeks ago.

“So, I am asking you to please slow down,” she asked council.

“Let the community decide, not consultants.”

A roar of applause emerged from the crowd gathered at the Rupert Community Centre as she took her seat.

La Peche Mayor Robert Bussiere tried to ease the crowd by repeatedly saying that the proposed PPU is a working draft.

“Tonight what we adopt is a working document,” said Bussiere.

“It’s subject to change.”

For Andrée Grand-Maitre it was a proposed public parking lot on Mill Rd that had her worried. According to Grand-Maitre, the parking lot will take up about 50 per cent of her land at 12 Mill Rd. She said that keeping parking out of the core of the village could create some more business opportunities in the village.

“If parking areas were at the north and south ends of the village and you wanted people to come into the centre you could rent out bikes,” she said.

Grand-Maitre also submitted a petition she says has 90 per cent of Wakefield’s business owners’ signatures requesting that the proposed parking lot be taken off the PPU.

Former PPU committee member Chris Rompre sat and listened to all the comments before getting up to give an alternative view.

“What people don’t realize is that change is happening whether we like it or not. If we push it back and back and back, we will surrender our voice.”

With the main concern from citizens being time, Ward 6 councillor Lynn Berthiaume proposed to extend the timeline for public input from July 30 to Aug. 14. Council voted the proposal in and the first draft of the PPU was adopted as a working document.

Although council got heated at times, Berthiaume still feels that the meeting was a positive discussion on the future.

“That’s the most important part of a democracy is; listening and letting people have their say.”

Council members are meeting with concerned citizens on July 13 and 15 on an individual basis. There will be another public consultation held sometime in September.

The plan is available for viewing on the internet at http://www.villelapeche.qc.ca/en/wakefieldppudraft10june09.pdf

To give feedback on the PPU, email mracine@villelapeche.qc.ca. before Aug. 14.