Wakefield, Quebec should ditch mayor who won’t listen

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by admin on March 24, 2010

The Editor,

Many people are justifiably horrified at the current mayor’s efforts to erect an industrial park on prime, local agricultural land near Wakefield, Quebec.

To make this happen he threatens (not proposes) to expropriate land and essentially ride roughshod over the interests of all those adversely affected. Despite the numerous concerns raised by the local voting public, as well as by the many tourists who regularly visit our region, the current mayor has arrogantly insisted that this project will go ahead, beginning as early as fall 2010.

Last time I looked, we were still living in a democracy, where elected representatives are legally responsible for doing just that – representing the best interests and wishes of those who have elected them. Neither is there anything in the current statutes and regulations governing elected municipal representatives in Quebec (Municipal Powers Act, R.S.Q. c. C-47.1) that justifies expropriation of privately owned, agricultural land for commercial interests of limited value or benefit to the broader community. Whose interests exactly does this serve? When elected officials no longer represent the interest of their constituents, or are engaged in activities that do not serve the best interests of their communities and constituents, there are strong legal grounds for the removal of such persons from office.

The argument that the industrial park will be a major contributor to economic development in this region doesn’t hold water. The key driver of prosperity and economic development in this very special part of the country is undisputedly, eco-friendly tourism. Wakefield and the lands immediately surrounding the village have provided the major impetus for this tourism-based, economic development. The resulting, significant benefits have spilled over to neighbouring villages and surrounding areas well beyond the village borders. It is profoundly short sighted and irresponsible to suggest that industrial parks, malls and franchised commercial enterprises will contribute anything positive to the continued health of this tourist-based economy.

Jeopardize tourism and you jeopardize the economic foundation and future of this region.

A referendum is not the answer. A dozen communities scattered throughout a municipality covering almost 600 sq km, would be making decisions on what is happening in our back yard. Neither does further “consultation” with Mayor Bussière offer a solution, when such “consultation” is simply used (repeatedly) as a ploy to mollify and/or dilute the will and energies of the many community members opposing decisions which are continually being made behind closed doors.

We should not have to repeatedly justify, or be called upon to fight tooth and nail for the vision we have for our community. This is not an isolated incident. It’s a pattern of behaviour that is becoming increasingly entrenched. Perhaps we should be considering secession from the broader municipality of La Pêche, not a referendum, if we are to protect the vision we have for Wakefield and surrounding areas and what is essentially our home.

Storm J. Russell

Wakefield, Quebec