Wentworth-Nord

The Lakes, November 7?

At the current Wentworth-Nord Council meetings, members are busy. They have to attack, even denigrate their opponents, or respond to the attacks of these same colleagues; for some, they even have to advance their electoral campaign; then, if time permits, they have to deal with the files to be managed, all the while mixing in the above-mentioned considerations... Question period can only encourage the citizens to follow the same vein.

Curiously, in a municipality whose main component and asset remains its lakes, an asset that justifies the presence of more than half of its residents, these lakes do not seem to us to be currently the object of particular attention. Of course, mandated by the higher authorities, the administration sees to the application of the regulations that govern the disposal of wastewater; sees to the monitoring of the criteria for the development of the habitat that borders the watercourses; manages other specific implications of urbanism; etc.

Is not the environmentally conscious Councillor of our district leading the crusade to protect access to our beach, or even access to the lake itself by the hordes of paddle boarding tourists, or to prohibit any right of way for the dreaded Eurasian water milfoil? In this, it responds primarily to the legitimate concerns of residents and members of the lake association. However, it is not the invasion of the beach or the proliferation of windsurfers and kayakers that constitute the greatest threat to the lake. No, for us, the threat comes mainly from the main users or actors of the lake, that is to say we, the residents.

Putting management, i.e. the protection of the lakes, at the forefront, while the municipalities of the MRC located in the axes of development of the region must rather focus on the accelerated urbanization that threatens them, or on other problems of large center, does not seem to us to be self-evident to the Council. However, it does not require a significant portion of the municipal budget; the latter having to be mainly allocated to roads. The equivalent of the lawyer's fees, currently incurred for any purpose other than administration, would be more than enough...

As has often been pointed out, the quiet, unchanging surface of the lakes cannot reveal the laborious processes of degradation imposed upon them by the presence and even the development of our habitat. Doesn't the acceptance of the zoning amendment around Lac à la Croix, at the head of Lake St. Francois-Xavier, with little apparent consideration for the outcry it caused among the residents of the latter, indicate that the expansion of this habitat and the necessary socio-economic development it implies are better governed than the protection of these precious lakes?

Perhaps it is believed that the situation is under control; that environmental regulations, lake associations and the good conscience of both residents and developers are protecting Wentworth Nord's waterways and ensuring an enviable situation for future generations. It is believed that through the work of the MRC, the tiny Conseil régional de l’environnement des Laurentides and the Rivière du Nord watershed agency, Abrinord, among others, and despite the vastness of the territory and the number of watercourses under their jurisdiction, protection efforts are sufficient.

And then, isn't the combined Urban Planning and Environment Department, with the help of the Environment Committee of the municipality and the council, doing its job? One will recall the scope of the work imposed on the former Environment Branch of the municipality, before the axe fell on its head. Didn't the statutory meetings that it used to offer to the lake associations highlight the problems perceived by those who were trying to look after the quality of their precious lake asset?

These meetings have recently resumed, we were assured by the committee's chair, Councillor David Zgodzinski. Have you ever heard anything concrete about them? If you belong to one of these associations, maybe. But some of them are only for their members; they don't feel any obligation to inform all lake residents, let alone involve them in their process. In a municipality such as ours, they are the ones that the municipal environment committee, the Council and other bodies rely on to represent the entire population on many issues. With greater citizen participation in a future administration, Wentworth-Nord will be able to rely more on their involvement in the consultation and management of many issues.
Greater attention to the lakes by our municipal council would perhaps mean that a specific committee would analyze the probable impacts of current decisions made in the various municipal departments on the lakes. Consider, for example, the zoning changes allowing lakefront development, such as the one mentioned above, even though the Director assured us that they were conditional on the evaluation of their compliance with mandatory environmental measures as of this season. We can think of the construction of roads, such as Thurson Lake Road and Mount Street, the extension of Hunter Street on the hillside, just to name a few, on Lake Saint-François-Xavier.

Proactive actions would also be on the agenda of this council. We still do not know enough about the state of our lakes; others are doing much more and better than we are. However, with the help of our lake associations, provided they are first dedicated to the protection of the lakes, considerable work has been done in the past and can pave the way for what should be continued today.

For example, the impact of sedimentation in our lakes, accelerated by our sometimes inappropriate practices, could be easily evaluated by placing sediment sensors at strategic locations, in tributaries, at the bottom of the lake, etc. The evolution of the temperature of its water, or other variable, work that some, like Mr. David Clark, have individually decided to tackle, or the collection of water quality samples, would all be very relevant data. It would at least give us a better idea of their health until we can be reintroduced into the good graces of the RSVL.
Local or individual initiatives are certainly commendable; but those who look closely know that they are usually best supported by administrative assistance. There is an army of volunteers ready for action, but no general... Faced with the desolate state of our planet, don't we too often have the reflex to put the burden on forces beyond our reach? But isn't it up to the citizens of Wentworth-Nord to do something? The lakes are waiting for it!

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

By Carl Chapdelaine

Public Consultation in Wentworth-Nord

At the May 21st Council meeting, the Chair of the Environmental Advisory Committee, Councillor David Zgodzinski, reported on the discussion of the project to reduce the minimum distance between a road to be built and a water body Consultation, distance route/lac. His colleagues, the members of the committee and the Planning and Environment Department, under the direction of Mr. Benoit Cadieux, had probably made a first round of the issue. This distance is currently 75 m in Wentworth-Nord; however, in order to follow the other municipalities of the MRC, it might be appropriate to reduce it to 60 m Document explicatif. Minor variances were available to meet this distance, but a government legislative change that came into effect on March 25 of this year makes such variances unavailable, so this is a good discussion.

Mr. Zgodzinski will indicate that the distance is finally maintained at 75 m pending the results of a public consultation open to all. (One can only dream that, as new municipal elections approach, such participatory democracy initiatives will be part of the election promises).

Such a subject will probably be of interest to all those who are particularly concerned about the protection of waterways and lakes from the impact of roads and access roads on their environment; the participation in the videoconference (Zoom) on June 15 will attest to this. But how can someone who has no particular knowledge of the subject, or who has not experienced the problems caused by the presence of such roads, offer an informed opinion?

It seems to us that such consultations should ideally take place in two stages. Isn't information on which to base our perception of a problem, of a situation, in this case of a regulation, a prerequisite that must justify a first step? This information must probably present the theory and the generally accepted rules; all of this must be confronted with the experiences reported in the field. It is then that the citizen, behind the opinion of the specialists, can give his own.

We remember the brilliant presentation that Mayor François Ghali made, at the beginning of his mandate, of his plan to restructure the road network in Wentworth-Nord. However, he could have been criticized for having a vision that could exceed the resources required to carry it out; for having overestimated the assistance expected from the governments; as well as for having attributed to himself a perhaps exaggerated appreciation of the support for his plan.

Without having all the knowledge necessary for the evaluation of the present subject, it brings us back to existing situations around Lake Saint-François-Xavier. We had tried to imagine a way to really isolate the Chemin de fer road from the greenway which completes its double vocation; and thus to solve a thorny problem of cohabitation. But the evolution of the norms governing the construction of roads, particularly near a watercourse, prevent any project in this sense. The consolidation of the properties concerned was also an insurmountable challenge.

But how could the extension of Hunter Street be justified, on a hillside and without a rigorous assessment of the implications of such construction? Or the creation of an almost freeway around Thurston Lake, which, despite the respect of the standards in force, seems to us to constitute an environmental threat for Lake Saint-François-Xavier, among others?

We would have liked the Council elected in 2017 to set up weekly presentations, or as the case may be, on the files that occupy the administration; the publication of the Gazette of Wentworth-Nord is inadequate in this regard. City of Esterel's, Mayor Dydsak's cafés, and other initiatives, seemed promising. Here again, let's hope that the next Municipal Council will meet our expectations.

By Carl Chapdelaine

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) & Linguee

Wentworth-Nord Council Meeting Of May 21, 2021 (Report)

Ordre du jour   Version vidéo   États financiers

The videoconference was chaired by Mayor Ghali. The entire Council was present, as well as Ms. Véronique Cronier, Assistant Director General and Acting Secretary-Treasurer, and the external auditor, Mr. Michel Saint-Arnaud, of the firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton in Saint-Jérôme. More than fifty people attended the meeting.

Mayor's statement

Mr. Ghali said he was informed by Councillor David Zgodzinski on January 31 that the Commission municipale du Québec had been contacted by one of his colleagues to investigate a dozen disclosures concerning him. Consequently, as specified by law, the municipality is obliged to defend a mayor who is attacked in this way. The costs now exceed $100,000 and are expected to increase.

The purpose of these disclosures would have been, among other things, to incite him to resign, which many supporters would have prevented him from doing. He recalls that he has always acted with honesty and uprightness and that he is convinced that, in time, the truth will come out.

"Since these disclosures, the municipality has been on fire." "Four councillors are interfering on a daily basis." "They have put undue pressure on staff, some of whom have fallen ill, some of whom have quit; some of whom are afraid for their jobs." "The four counselors are also under investigation by the CNESST for psychological harassment..."

The situation thus created is not without serious consequences for the management and finances of the municipality, he added. But he will not let amateurs destroy a community to satisfy their thirst for power...

Statements by Councillors

Councillor André Cliche, in response to the mayor, said that he did not want to start a debate, and that justice should be allowed to take its course. However, he stated that no names were mentioned in the letter received by the mayor announcing the CNESST investigation and that Mr. Ghali was therefore communicating falsehoods.

Councillor Zgodzinski brought attention to another subject, that of the resolution on the agenda for the renewal of the contract with the MRC on the management of the Montfort Pavilion, etc. He mentions the call for mediation by the MAMH; the excellent work of the employees of the community; but also the disproportionate financial burden on the municipality, for lack of a fair contribution from the MRC.

He recalls the consequences of the influx of visitors the previous summer, with the danger of spreading Covid-19, or even introducing invasive plants in the lake. Moreover, the necessary hiring of constables will be a big expense for Wentworth-Nord. He denounced the lack of measures to encourage cyclists to be careful on the shared lane of the Aerobic Corridor. The MRC has remained deaf to residents' fears of visitors spreading the pandemic.

To a question from Councillor Suzanne Y. Paradis on the news about high-speed internet, the mayor said that it was the announcement by Cogeco of its project to wire the entire territory of the municipality with fiber optics by September 2022. He took the opportunity to point out that such a project has already been concluded with Bell to, among other things, serve City Hall. A sub-question from the councillor allowed him to add that this will be free of charge for the citizens; whereas Mr. Johnston was going to make us spend $30,000 unnecessarily, he underlined...

Councillor Eric Johnston answers the mayor on this last statement; explaining that we have to go back two years, while the negligence of the latter had delayed a project in this sense. He accuses Mr. Ghali of always presenting events to promote himself at the expense of others and spreading bad information. He adds that he will return to the issue with a prepared text as the mayor does himself.

While the Mayor seeks to continue the debate with Mr. Johnston, Councillor Cliche asks to return to the agenda. Ms. Paradis then assists Mr. Ghali to remind the councilor that it is the mayor who presides over the meeting...

The mayor asks if the minutes of the last special meeting, «which was not so special», are adopted.

(The mayor still does not seem to have the reserve in taking advantage of his platform to denigrate the actions of the four councillors, or to claim to be wise. As a side effect, however, we have to say that these meetings over which he presides can now compete with the soap operas that monopolize couples in front of their small screens in Wentworth-Nord homes. They seem poised to become the town's number one attraction. The question now is whether these sword-and-cape scenes, in which the secondary actors, the councillors, have a better grasp of their respective roles and lines, will be revived in the next fall program).

Administration

Then comes the reading of the resolution of item 4.2, granting the payment of a new lawyer invoice (BCF) of $33,000 for the defense of the mayor. Mrs. Suzanne Y. Paradis proposed it; it was seconded by Mrs. Myriam Rioux. Mr. David Zgodzinski asked for a vote, reminding that the total has already exceeded $100,000. He would like the resolution to be postponed (i.e. withdrawn) until we have more details on the content of these expenses.

The Mayor asked to vote on the withdrawal of the resolution requested by Mr. Zgodzinski, seconded by Mr. Johnston. Mr. Cliche voted for the withdrawal, for the same reasons as Mr. Zgodzinski. Mr. Paradis speaks in his turn; but the Mayor does not hear him well and points out that he is not often understood...

Mrs. S. Y. Paradis makes some comments denouncing the attitude of these councillors. Mr. Y. Paradis addresses his colleague to tell her that "enough with the comments"; and he votes in turn for the withdrawal of the resolution. Mrs. Paradis and Rioux will vote against. The withdrawal of the resolution will be adopted.

The external auditor, Mr. Michel Saint-Arnaud, now presents the summary financial statements for 2019. He gave the figures and accompanying explanations, without comment. (See link above).

The mayor then invites the participants to ask questions to the auditor.

Mr. Johnston suggests to Mr. St-Arnaud to explain what reserves are. Answer: They are funds that council has reserved, within the available funds, for future projects. Then the councilor is surprised by the delay in the monthly bank reconciliations, when we are only in May 2020. He asked if it was not of paramount importance, as the auditor had pointed out in his audit, to see to these reconciliations to ensure that the budget was respected. Answer "Yes". But that doesn't preclude tracking expenses, as the councilman seemed to fear, he added. (Ms. Cronier, will later announce that bank reconciliations are now complete for the year 2020). Mr. Johnston will complain about the delay in the release of these financial statements, which had been announced in a publication in the Gazette of Wentworth-Nord. He will say that we were dreaming in colors...

Mrs. Danielle Desjardins explores some figures, reminding that municipalities do not have the right to be in deficit. Mr. St-Arnaud agrees; but he explains that the presence here of unrestricted surpluses largely compensates for this deficit. He warned against continuing in this vein. Ms. Desjardins returned to the subject by indicating that at the beginning of 2019, an amount of expenses is expected that will be greatly exceeded at the end of the year. A mother would not be able to get by in such a situation.

Ms. Paradis will return to the words of Ms. Desjardins, calling on the auditor, to point out that the deficit was not $ 700,000 as she calculated. (In fact, the councilor had not understood that Ms. Desjardins was taking there, rather, the difference between budgeted income and actual income. "We spent ..." Mr. St-Arnaud will, on balance, put the deficit at $162,357. The mayor will instead state that there is a surplus of $202,280. (Ms. Desjardins especially wants to point out that the long-term debt has gone from $2M to $3.9M, while the current administration is benefiting from the surpluses accumulated under the previous administration).

Then, Councillor S. Y. Paradis and the mayor will brag about the fact that the tax rate has not changed in recent years. Mr. Johnston, who does not hesitate anymore to respond to the mayor's assertions, will say that the taxes have indeed, with the property value, increased by 8%. The mayor immediately calls him to order... The financial statements are adopted.

In 4.8, it was proposed and accepted to authorize the payment of invoices in the amount of $38,000, representing Wentworth-Nord's share of the MRC.

In 4.9, on the renewal of the agreement for the maintenance of the Aerobic Corridor Park, the Montfortaine hiking trail and the Montfort Pavilion, it was moved by Mr. Zgodzinski, seconded by Mr. Johnston, to accept the renewal of the current intermunicipal agreement pending the results of the negotiations with the MRC carried under the mediation of the MAMH.

Public Security

Mr. Yvon Paradis, President of the Public Security Committee, invites citizens to give their opinion on the presentation of fireworks, via the application Voilà!

Public works

While thanking Mr. André Philippe Hébert and all the team, the president of the Road Committee, Mr. André Cliche, presents the following highlights
1. Emphasis on the follow-ups; for example, concerning the numerous calls for tenders. In this last case, if we developed agreements that could be renewed annually, or framework agreements, we would save a lot of time and effort.
2. Timber harvesting.
3. Follow-up on the road system. We are halfway through the year and we cannot know if we have respected (the schedule and the budget).
4. Policy to be developed on the use of gravel; on the adoption of best practices regarding the preventive maintenance of these roads and on the decision making on the need to resurface a gravel road.
5. Assessment of the need for bus shelters for public transportation, however St. Michel is still not served. Mr. Ghali informed the committee of the steps he had taken to have a bus shelter near the church of Saint-Michel. Mr. Cliche immediately criticized him for not having informed the right persons.

Environment

In order to follow the other municipalities of the MRC, Mr. Zgodzinski, the president of the Committee, talks about the discussion on the project to reduce to 60 m the minimum distance between a road to be built and a water body; it is currently 75 m. in Wentworth-Nord. The distance was finally maintained at 75 m.

Planning and Economic Development

Planning Committee Chair Johnston noted the increased workload on the Committee and the Planning Department due to the high demand for new construction, property improvements, etc., as evidenced again by the long list of permit applications, minor derogations and the PIIA (Plans d’implantation et d’intégration architecturale /Site Planning and Architectural Integration Plan) assessments.

Mr. Johnston returns with the need to update the regulations regarding short-term rental of dwellings (i.e. cottages) as an accessory use of the property. This use has become more often than not a disguise for a commercial activity of renting out cottages or even turning the property into an inn. The regulations should reflect this new situation, which responds to current market demand, and prescribe the accessory conditions that it implies: capacity of septic tanks, parking lots, garbage disposal, etc. Planning Services is working on this.
The Mayor presented the list of permits for April 1 to 30, 2021. They involve investments of $3,778,000, compared to $522,000 at the same date in 2020; that is seven times more and an additional tax contribution.

During the reading of the series of points concerning construction and renovations, Johnston and Zgodzinski will return to their doubts about the real vocation of many of these constructions, which is rental. More consideration should be given to the uses of these new properties in the acceptance of permits, Johnston said. For Mr. Paradis, we cannot assume that the owners have bad intentions, but we must ensure that we have better control over subsequent uses. To show their similar apprehension, Councillors Johnston and Zgodzinski will vote against the adoption of the PIIA, at item 8.25, for a new construction of a main building on Maria Street (to be verified). It will still pass.

Public Interest Item

Mrs. Suzanne Y. Paradis used this item to recall that the four councillors who opposed the paving of Du Domaine Street had estimated costs that were much higher than they actually were.

She also attacked, once again, the assertions of the Groupe citoyen Wentworth-Nord and its coordinator, Mrs. Danielle Desjardins.

Question period

There was a question on the short term rental.

Mrs. Colleen Horan asked the council if there are more roads to maintain in Laurel and Saint-Michel than in Montfort; indicating that the situation around the last village is deplorable. How is the work done?

Mayor Ghali answered that he inherited a deplorable situation; that they were trying to catch up. Everything was done in all equity between the sectors of the municipality. Ms. Horan felt, however, that an improvement in efforts was necessary.

Mr. Yvon Paradis took the floor to reproach the mayor for having denigrated the former administration; whereas the latter had gone to get important sums for the repair of the Principale road, among others.

Mrs. Desjardins asked:
- To reply to Councillor Suzanne Y. Paradis, who mentioned her name four times.
- What are the consequences of the departure of all the executives of the administration since the mayor took office?
- If the financial statements should not normally be tabled.
- Why three lawyers to defend the mayor of the poorest municipality in the MRC?

Mrs. Suzanne Y. Paradis interrupted the citizen by shouting, while Mr. Ghali accused her of spreading falsehoods.

The mayor explains that the departed executives were able (or willing) to find more advantageous positions elsewhere; this causes Ms. Desjardins to laugh... Mr. Ghali returns with the argument he had already served to the undersigned for the same question on the consequences for the follow-up of files of the disappearance of all the former executives, explaining (roughly) that he himself was responsible (among others, presumably) for the memory of the situation in the municipality.

For the financial statements, the mayor speaks of excellent results despite the sums that were forced to be invested in the road system. The tax rate has remained the same.

Mrs. Denyse Pinsonneault asked why item 8.42, on minor exemptions concerning lots at the head of Lake St. Francois-Xavier, which was associated with the presence of Lac St-Victor Estates and which had caused a last minute monopolization at the lake, had been removed from the agenda. The Mayor will answer that it was on the recommendation of the urban planner. Councillor D. Zgodzinski will not comment...

With all due respect; by Carl Chapdelaine

May 21, 2021, W-N meeting of the council & 2019 financial statements

Agenda (French)       Join the Zoom meeting

Meeting ID: 883 4210 7609
Secret code: 916912

Municipal meeting of May 21

• The Wentworth-Nord Citizen Group has requested leave to intervene in question period to defend the content of its second publication "Is there a pilot on the plane". This publication was denounced during the last council meeting by Councillor Suzanne Paradis on the pretext that the information contained in the publication was false. We were then denied the right of reply.

• Questions from the public at a town hall meeting.
Any member of the public present at a council session may address a council member or the secretary during the question period at the end of the session. For citizens attending online sessions, they should notify the secretary of their wish to ask a question and wait their turn.
A question asked must relate to a matter of public interest that falls within the remit of Wentworth-Nord or its council.

When the floor is granted, the person must address the president or the member who chairs the meeting by giving his/her name or the name of the organization she/he represents, specify the member of the council to whom the question is addressed and speak in polite terms and do not use offensive and libelous language.

Each speaker has a maximum period of 5 minutes to ask a question and a sub-question. Anyone can ask a new question as well as a new sub-question, when all the people who wish to ask a question have done so, and so on in turn until the end of the question period.

The answer to a question should be limited to the topic it touches, be brief and clear. The other council members can complete the answer given. All elected officials must demonstrate at all times during council meetings the greatest correctness of behavior and an irreproachable and respectful attitude towards other council members and citizens.(Reference: BY-LAW 2020-173 ON THE INTERNAL MANAGEMENT OF SESSIONS OF THE MUNICIPAL COUNCIL OF WENTWORTH-NORD which can be consulted here: Règlement, W-N: 2020-173)


Summary of 2019 financial statements

After two years of delay, the municipality will finally file the 2019 financial statements. The summary can be viewed by clicking on this link: États financiers, W-N, 2019According to the document, and despite significantly increasing revenues, the municipality made a significant deficit in 2019. Remember that municipal deficits are not authorized by law. We also find that long-term debt has more than doubled during this period. As for the financing costs, they increased by 240%.

Note on the Agenda: At the time of sending you this message, the agenda was not yet available (no WEB link) despite the fact that the internal management regulations stipulate that it must be 72 hours before the council meeting.

We look forward to seeing many of you during the session.
--
Danielle Desjardins
Coordonnatrice • 450-226-5643

1re hearing of F. Ghali before the CMQ - Mai 2021

Plusieurs d’entre vous ont cherché sans succès à se connecter via ZOOM à l’audience du maire Ghali devant la commission municipale du Québec (CMQ). L’audience a débuté avec une dizaine de minutes de retard, ce qui en a peut-être découragé quelques-uns. Je vous résume mes notes de l’audience à laquelle j’ai assisté du début à la fin sans prétendre qu’elles sont exactes ou complètes.

Les avocats du maire Ghali – trois avocats pour l’occasion - ont demandé l’arrêt des procédures contre ce dernier. La raison invoquée n’était pas que les manquements reprochés au maire Ghali sont frivoles et / ou sans fondement mais qu’elle était plutôt basée sur le fait que les enquêteurs de la CMQ n’auraient pas procédé dans les règles lors de l’assignation du maire Ghali. Cette façon d’agir des enquêteurs aurait pour conséquence de compromettre l’équité du procès du maire Ghali.

Pour appuyer leur demande, les avocats du maire ont invoqué 3 motifs :
• le maire Ghali aurait éprouvé des sentiments désagréables et se serait senti mis « en détention psychologique » par les enquêteurs pendant son assignation. Il y aurait eu une gradation de pression sur le maire pendant son témoignage qui a duré 2h30;
• les enquêteurs n’auraient pas mentionné au maire Ghali qu’il avait le droit à un avocat et qu’il pouvait garder le silence pendant l’assignation;
• une lettre d’avocate (dont le contenu est nominatif et confidentiel ne peut être encore dévoilé) écrite au nom de la municipalité et adressée au président de la CMQ alléguait que les enquêteurs avaient abusé de leur pouvoir dans la recherche de faits et de preuves et que leur façon de procéder avait semé l’émoi auprès des employés de la municipalité.

Selon les avocats du maire Ghali, l'intégrité du système de justice est ici mise en doute. Dans certains cas, la préservation du système de justice aurait priorité sur l’intérêt de la société quel que soit la gravité des faits reprochés à un accusé. Par conséquent l’arrêt des procédures contre le maire Ghali est justifié et doit s’appliquer.

Le directeur du contentieux et des enquêtes de la CMQ, Me François Girard, a plaidé devant la juge Sandra Bilodeau en réfutant les motifs avancés par les avocats du maire Ghali de façon suivante :
• François Ghali n’a jamais été détenu ou été en état d’arrestation. Il a plutôt été assigné par les enquêteurs à s’expliquer sur les manquements en déontologie qui lui étaient reprochés. La notion de « détention psychologique » ne peut s’appliquer dans le cas d’une enquête administrative. Me Girard a avancé que les arguments des avocats de François Ghali sont pertinents en droit criminel mais pas en droit administratif. Il a aussi répété que le fait que le maire Ghali trouve le processus désagréable n'invalide en rien l'enquête, affirmant qu'en soi une enquête sur ses agissements n'est jamais agréable
• Lors d’une enquête administrative, le droit à un avocat n’est pas garanti par les Chartes canadienne et québécoise et lorsque l’avocat du défenseur est présent, son pouvoir d’intervention est très limité.
• Concernant la lettre envoyée au président de la CMQ, on n’y trouve que des allégués et aucun fait encore démontré. Plus encore, l’avocate s’est placée dans une situation douteuse pour ce dossier car elle représentait à la fois l’accusé et les témoins à charge.

Par conséquent, le système de justice n’est nullement mis en doute dans ce cas et l’arrêt des procédures contre le maire Ghali n’est pas justifié.

Des demandes de précisions ont également été faites sur certains des 13 faits reprochés au maire. On demande le retrait de ces faits au dossier du maire si ces précisions ne peuvent être données.

La juge Bilodeau, qui entendait la cause, dispose de 60 jours pour rendre sa décision, ce qui nous amène au milieu de juillet 2021.

By Danielle Desjardins, Coordinator 

First hearing on mayor F. Ghali vs. CMQ, May 13, 2021

At 9:30 a.m., several interested parties had not been able to connect to the broadcast of the hearing via the Zoom application. Perhaps, like the undersigned, they had not waited for it to really start, some ten minutes late. The hearing would last the rest of the morning; then resume in the early afternoon. It was then easier to join the participants. We were therefore able to follow the rest of the exchanges.
Madame Justice Sandra Bilodeau would be receiving pleas from Me Décary, a renowned lawyer, and Me Annie-Claude Trudeau for the defense of Mayor F. Ghali. We were told that he even had a third lawyer and that the whole thing would result in expenses exceeding $100,000 for the municipality of Wentworth-Nord. Me Nadia Lavoie and Me. François Girard, Director of Litigation and Investigations, represented the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ).

From what we were told of the morning's proceedings :
- Me Décary, had perhaps not made a convincing argument.
- The defense seemed to acknowledge the facts, and was perhaps more concerned with drawing attention to other aspects. The mayor and his reputation had already suffered from these public accusations.
- They were asking that the prosecution be quashed.
- There was also talk of obstruction of the investigators.
- ...
In the afternoon, we could see that Mtre Trudeau, who had probably taken over from Mtre Décary, was saying that the defense needed dates on the snow removal and land levelling of which Mayor Ghali was accused (and for which he had paid after the fact). Otherwise, it had nothing specific enough to challenge. She repeated arguments already advanced by the mayor.

Me Décary would add to this, crying injustice and pleading that the mayor "was entitled to a full and complete defense"; that the burden of proof was on the prosecution; that more rigor was needed...

Me François Girard, would answer that the defense had all the content of what the prosecution had; that the witnesses had said that the leveling had taken place on a few occasions; and the same for the snow removal (over three years); but without giving more details. They could not give a date. The mayor had asked about the snow removal. But Me Décary wanted proof. (?) (As if the employees could have offered themselves to do the work, we imagined.)

The lawyer representing the CMQ, Me Nadia Lavoie, claimed that it was not necessary to give more details; that the invoices attested to the events; that it was the overall failure that counted.

Then, Me Trudeau attacked the accusation of having lied under oath. They needed clarification; were they really lies? This charge had to be amended or withdrawn. The judge said that the definition of a lie could indeed be subjective. The CMQ's lawyer replied that one could refer to the tape; that the mayor did not give the same answers to the same questions; changing his version during the long interrogation.
The two lawyers often cited case law.

Finally, the judge was going to take the whole thing under advisement.

Without prejudice; by Carl Chapdelaine

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) & Linguee

  CMQ Hearing Of May 13 for Mayor F. Ghali

There are two files in question [8 counts in the first (CMQ-67448-001), and five in the second (CMQ-67525-001). 

Mr. Ghali's lawyers, Me Michel Décary (a renowned lawyer) and Me Annie-Claude Trudeau, will be asking, in both files:
1. Clarification of the charges.
2. A request for a stay of proceedings.

The judge will have 60 days to render his decision; by "conference" between the parties.

Zoom link

By Carl Chapdelaine

Special Meeting of Wentworth-Nord’s Council, April 30, 2021 (Report)

<--- Vive la Canadienne *

Video version

Mayor Ghali presided over this special meeting, held by videoconference, in order to resume the meeting of April 26th dealing with the following resolutions:
- Montfort Pavilion Agreement;
- appointment of an Associate Director General;
- purchase of a vehicle for the Fire Department.
It appears that a procedural error rendered the special meeting of April 26 invalid. The Mayor wondered if the present one would suffer the same fate, given confusion in the number of days required for its announcement, three instead of two, and a potential violation of that. Some of Mr. Ghali's reflections were to lead to another spat between him and Councillor André Cliche, who now often takes the liberty of calling the Mayor to order. Only Councillor Suzanne Y. Paradis did not participate this time in the meeting. The resolutions having been presented and adopted by the four councillors opposed to the mayor, their resumption was not going to change the results.

- Montfort Pavilion Agreement
The mayor asked Councillor David Zgodzinski to read the resolution he had presented (it is a denunciation of the financial obligations of the municipality in this agreement and deemed disproportionate. Enregistrement de la séance). The latter indicated that he did not have it in front of him; that its wording was identical to its reading of April 26. Mr. Ghali explains that we have to forget the existence of the meeting of the 26th; that we start from scratch. Councillor Eric Johnston, having a copy of the resolution with him, will read it. Mr. Zgodzinski seconded Mr. Cliche and the resolution was adopted. In response to questions from the mayor, the latter indicated that today was the deadline for dealing with this matter, since the contract with the MRC for the management of the Montfort Pavilion and others is renewed every May 1st, we understand. The agreement had however been unanimously accepted by the members of the council, at its meeting of May 15, 2020.
Here, Mr. Ghali will launch into a long commentary that will leave all his interlocutors and probably all those who were viewing this meeting via the Zoom application speechless. We caught a few things from it:
- The MRC is simply extending the existing agreement. The Ministry of Transport, owner of the Aerobic Corridor, etc., is increasing its financial participation. The MRC, which is not our enemy, is managing the distribution of expenses fairly among the participating municipalities. It cannot give preferential treatment to Wentworth-Nord. The rates are the same for all municipalities involved. (Statements that are, of course, in contradiction with one of the whereases of the resolution).
- The mayors of the other municipalities of the MRC des Pays-d'en-Haut are not against Wentworth-Nord; quite the contrary.
- Councillor Zgodzinski's figures, $100,000 charge to the municipality, are far-fetched. The current cost seems reasonable to me.
- The constables (to be hired by Wentworth-Nord) will only have jurisdiction over the duties of the municipality.
- The citizens of Montreal and Laval, who are suffering from the social restrictions imposed by the fight against the pandemic, naturally seek to come to our Laurentians. The MRC has nothing to do with the current invasion of Montfort's facilities, as well as those of the other municipalities in the MRC. (This attacks the expectation that the MRC is responsible for tourism promotion, which, according to the mayor, is non-existent these days).
- Overall, the agreement has served the municipality well. (The opposite of what is described in the whereases.)
- We do not want to lose control over the activities generated by the presence (of the Regional Park) by giving up their management. (Contrary to the ultimate conclusion implied by Councillor Zgodzinski).
- Negotiations with the MRC were progressing well. What a mistake to impose mediation by MAMH! (He had voted against this resolution; as well as against the one involving MAMH in the discussions on the status of Chemin-de-Fer Street. Mr. Zgodzinski said he did not understand why).
- Tourism activity promotes the resources of Wentworth-Nord’s environment, so it has a positive effect.
- The resolution will undermine negotiations with the MRC.
- Montfort will still be busy this summer, no matter what we do.
Mr. Zgodzinski, rather than respond to the Mayor's negative comments, asked for a vote. The four councillors opposed to the Mayor will vote in favour, as they did on the 26th. Ms. Rioux will be against. The resolution will be adopted as presented.
(Mr. Ghali, who, to our knowledge, has regularly attacked the MRC, and especially Prefect André Genest, would thus have completely changed his speech.
Had there not been:
- The mayor's desire to withdraw the municipality from the cultural partnership with the MRC? (It was to use the funds that we devoted to our own cultural programming, the mayor replied during the question period. But, at the time, he said that the program was poorly managed. The withdrawal would save Wentworth North $10,000. "We're taking our marbles out and we're going to do better.")
- He had also denounced the excess of an announced increase in the MRC's budget for 2020. The MRC was thus seeking to increase its budget excessively and, on the other hand, to encroach more and more on the fields of competence reserved for the municipality.
- When asked by citizens if Wentworth-Nord was receiving a fair share for its contribution to the MRC, the mayor said no.
- He pledged to withdraw from all areas of shared jurisdiction, where possible. Given its eccentric position in the territory, Wentworth-Nord was not receiving its fair share of the MRC budget. In addition, he complained that he did not often receive answers to questions he addressed to the organization's executive director. Other municipalities would not be more satisfied with the management of the MRC, he added.
- On the Chemin-de-Fer Street file, he suggested that the MRC was dragging its feet in this important dispute. He then added that the MRC was holding these residents hostage and that measures would be taken to force it to resolve the problem.

- Appointment of an Associate Executive Director
Mr. Johnston read the proposal.
After listening to the recitals, the mayor will make several negative comments, stating that, by their messy work among others, the four councillors have created chaos, leading to the current situation. But he said he had to be for the adoption of the resolution. It was adopted unanimously.

- Purchase of a vehicle for the Fire Department
Mr. Yvon Paradis not having his resolution in front of him, the mayor, (rather than letting Councillor Johnston read it again), will ask Mrs. Cronier to do it.
Only one tender had allowed choosing a hybrid truck of the year 2020, sold by the Blainville Mitsubishi dealer for $37,628. A $6,000 rebate (or subsidy) was available when ordering right away. A 10-year warranty applied to major parts (and batteries?) The equivalent at a Toyota dealer was less advantageous.
Mr. Paradis was supported by Mr. Cliche.

An acrimonious exchange took place again between the mayor and the councillors. Mr. Ghali, in reply to Mr. Cliche who congratulated himself on the reasonable cost of the purchase, warned that the truck would have to be "dressed up"; that several thousand dollars would still be spent on it; and that he didn't have to get worked up... The councillor replied; while the mayor returned to the charge by saying that he was harassing the employees.
Mr. Johnston will tell the mayor that he is not telling the truth. In response, the mayor will give him a familiar insult, that the councillor read the resolutions well; but that he did not understand them...
The resolution was adopted.

Question period of the councillors
Mr. Johnston to the Mayor: "You say that our figures are crazy; but you do not produce the necessary financial statements..."
Mr. Ghali will answer him by going back to the Montfort agreement with the MRC. It is not just a question of numbers.

Questions from other participants
Ms. Danielle Desjardins returned to the mayor's comments in praise of the MRC, recalling some of the attacks on the MRC that we mentioned earlier. "Your speech has changed a lot since your last election campaign." She pointed out that the Coop des 4 Pôles did not have all the management responsibilities that the Municipality has today; it was the Municipality that chose to take them on.
The mayor replied by denying some of her accusations and by accusing her of making false accusations against him.
Mrs. Diane (Seb), whom we did not know any more than the mayor apparently, launched into a veritable indictment of him, denouncing, with description, his mean-spirited interventions towards the four councillors, and even citizens, during these council meetings. She considered them unspeakable. Shouldn't he have respected the opinions of others; should he not have been so arrogant? (These are the only parts of her speech that we were able to capture.)
The mayor seemed to some to be caught off guard and taken aback by such a denunciation. Did he perceive a growing hostility towards him?
Mr. Yves Léveillé returned with his allusions to the fables of Lafontaine. The mayor replied that he knew them well.
The agreement on the Montfort Pavilion was also discussed.

Without prejudice and aware that the content may contain errors; by Carl Chapdelaine

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) & Linguee

* Vive la MRC! (Sur l’air de La Canadienne!)
Vive la MRC _C_C!
Vole mon cœur, vo_o_le.
Vive la MRC_ C _C;
et son gentil préfet.
et son gentil préfet;
et son gentil préfet.
(bis)
Elle est très bien gérée;
Vole mon cœur, vo_o_le.
Elle est très bien gérée;
Reine des Pays-d’en-Haut;
Reine des Pays-d’en-Haut;
Reine des Pays-d’en-Haut.
(bis)
Elle rayonne et bri_i_lle.
Vole mon cœur, vo_o_le.
Elle rayonne et bri_i_lle;
Avec tous ses bijoux;
Avec tous ses bijoux;
Avec tous ses bijoux.
(bis)
On la veut à Wentworth-Nord.
Vole mon cœur, vo_o_le.
On la veut à Wentworth-Nord.
De Saint-Michel à Montfort;
de Saint-Michel à Montfort;
de Saint-Michel à Montfort.
(bis)
Pour voir ses merveil_eil_les.
Vole mon cœur, vo_o_le.
Pour voir ses merveil_eil_les.;
Ses lacs et ses beaux monts;
ses lacs et ses beaux monts;
ses lacs et ses beaux monts.
(bis)
À Montfort, on en est fou.
Vole mon cœur, vo_o_le.
À Montfort, on en est fou.
C’est ici qu’on l’accueille;
c’est ici qu’on l’accueille;
c’est ici qu’on l’accueille.
(bis)
Vive la MRC _C_C!
Vole mon cœur, vo_o_le.
Vive la MRC_ C _C, et son gentil préfet.

Par Carl Chapdelaine

Special Meeting of Wentworth-Nord Council, April 30, 2021

Municipal Council will hold a special meeting, by video conference, on Friday, April 30, at 5:00 p.m. to consider the following resolutions

- Montfort Pavilion Agreement
- Appointment of an Associate Director General
- Purchase of a vehicle for the Fire Department.

It appears that a procedural error rendered the special meeting of the 26 invalid; it must be resumed. Will Mayor Ghali, as well as Councillors Suzanne Y. Paradis and Myriam Rioux, who did not show-up, attend this time? Either way, it should not change the outcome.

By Carl Chapdelaine

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) & Lingue

Special Meeting of Wentworth-Nord Council, April 26, 2021 (report)


The Mayor and Councillors Suzanne Y. Paradis and Myriam Rioux were absent. Councillor Eric Johnston presided over the short meeting by videoconference. He was assisted by Mrs. Véronique Cronier, Acting Assistant Director General and Secretary-Treasurer. There were two dozen participants on Zoom. The four councillors opposed to the mayor ensured quorum. As for any special meeting, we will have to stick to the items on the agenda.

Montfort Pavilion Agreement
The resolution was presented by Mr. David Zgodzinski, seconded by Mr. André Cliche. These are the two councillors who are members, with Mayor A. Ghali, of the special committee in charge of the negotiations with the MRC on the files concerning Montfort; under the conciliation of Affaires municipales et Habitation (MAMH).

Mr. Zgodzinski read the resolution with several whereases. One of them states that the MRC still refuses to renegotiate the agreement concerning the Pavilion; another that the MRC should pay for almost everything at 100%; such as the hiring of agents and other municipal actions. Mr. Cliche will clarify that he agrees with the need to review the agreement; but he has reservations about the content of some of the whereases. He nevertheless supports their conclusion and seconds the presentation of the resolution. Carried unanimously.

Appointment of an Associate Executive Director
Upon recommendation of the Human Resources Committee, Mr. Sylvain Michaudville (who was Director General/Secretary-Treasurer of the Municipality of Lac-Supérieur) is appointed to this new position. Mr. Cliche, who presented the resolution, explains that he will be in function 3 days/week, for a period of 9 months. His services to the directorate will be greatly appreciated. It was adopted unanimously.

Purchase of a vehicle for the Fire Department
Mr. Johnston asked Mrs. Cronier to present the description of this resolution. It is a hybrid truck sold by the Blainville Mitsubishi dealership, for $37,628. The equivalent at a Toyota dealership had been less advantageous.

Mr. Zgodzinski, always greener than green, will take the opportunity to ask that we look into installing an electric charging station at Municipal Hall (is there a connection with the truck; we didn't think to ask).

Question Period
Mr. Yves Léveillé asked why the MAMH should be used to negotiate with the MRC. Mr. Zgodzinski answered that they have been asking to renegotiate for two years without success; that the municipality is losing money. The mediation of the MAMH on the other files affecting Montfort seems to him to facilitate things, and we want to rely on this help.

Ms. Colleen Horan echoed the Councillor's comments, stating that the municipality's share of the costs is excessive. For Mr. Zgodzinski, the municipality cannot let the MRC risk neglecting the environment and continue to promote tourism.

Mr. Roger Ponce then wants to know why he does not propose that the municipality leaves the whole Pavilion to the MRC. The Councillor admits that we could withdraw from its management with a thirty-day notice. He recognizes that he was in favor, at the beginning, of taking over this responsibility from the Coop des 4 Pôles, which seemed to him to give more importance to the promotion of tourism than to the protection of the environment. We want to get involved to have a say in the management of the organization.

Mrs. Danielle Desjardins will congratulate the council for the harmony in which this meeting was held; alluding of course to what we witness when it is led by the mayor.

Mr. Cliche will also congratulate Mr. Johnston for the way he presided over the meeting.

With all due respect; by Carl Chapdelaine

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Special Meeting of April 26, 2021

Ordre du jour

"The Municipal Council will call a special meeting, to be held via video conference, on Monday, April 26, 2021 at 12:00 p.m., to transact the following business:

  • Montfort Pavilion Agreement
  • Appointment of an Associate Director General*.
  • Purchase of a vehicle for the Fire Department".

"During this special meeting, Council's deliberations and question period will focus exclusively on the items on the agenda."

Participation via Zoom

  • The current agreement between the Municipality and the MRC concerning the Montfort Pavilion must be renewed annually before the end of April. It had been substituted for the one between the latter and the Coopérative des 4 Pôles, as ardently advocated by Councillor David Zgodzinski after the last municipal elections. We know that it is now being strongly criticized by the same councilor. The financial involvement, which he claims is unfairly divided between the two entities, is the main object of his recriminations. Will the involvement of the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Habitation (MAMH) in a mediation process concerning Montfort bring satisfaction to the councillor, and have any changes been made?
  • It is known that since the departure of Ms. Marie-France Matteau on sick leave, the position of Director General has been the subject of numerous interventions by the Municipal Council. The appointment of Ms. Véronique Cronier as Acting Assistant Director General and Secretary-Treasurer, proposed by the mayor, has again opposed the latter, assisted by Councillors Suzanne Y. Paradis and Myriam Rioux, to the other four members of the Council. It will be recalled that it had been voted when, given the absence of Mr. Yvon Paradis, the latter did not have control of the Council, and Mr. Cliche denounced it for a lack of clarity. The appointment, referred to in the agenda, would likely involve the hiring of an experienced Associate Director General from outside the organization. The Fédération québécoise des municipalités (FQM) offers its members a publication service for recruiting personnel.

P.S. When will a special Council meeting be held to change the lunch hour for the citizens of Wentworth-Nord?

With all due respect; by Carl Chapdelaine


Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Wentworth-Nord Council Meeting Of April 16, 2021 (Partial report).

 Ordre du jour        Video version

The video conference was chaired by Mayor Ghali and was attended by all of Council. Ms. Véronique Cronier, Acting Assistant Director General and Secretary-Treasurer, represented the administration. There were approximately 40 participants.

Statements by elected officials

The Mayor urged citizens to get vaccinated as soon as possible against Covid-19.

Councillor Suzanne Y. Paradis attacked the content of the 2nd communiqué of the Groupe citoyen Wentworth-Nord denouncing the collection of falsehoods she claims to find there. She undertook to respond point by point.

  1. If there was mismanagement of the municipality, the cause would be the taking of the majority on council by the four councillors opposed to the mayor.
  2. She has a completely different interpretation of the tax account and its use by the municipality than the one described in the press release.
  3. Expenditures and loans, seen as mysterious or irrelevant, were approved by council.
  4. The legal fees charged in the mayor's defense are nothing compared to those incurred for the frivolous or unreasonable reasons given by the four councillors.
  5. The delay in the production of the financial statements is due to circumstances beyond the control of the Mayor.
  6. Regarding the mismanagement of personnel, she blames it on the maneuvers of the four councillors. As evidence, she took the opportunity to indicate that an employee had just filed a complaint against them for psychological harassment (the Director General, Ms. Marie-France Matteau, who was on sick leave and who was herself involved in one or other of the accusations against the mayor in her citation before the Commission municipale du Québec).

Councillors Cliche and Johnston will denounce the Councillor's use of her statement period; among other things, by exceeding the allotted time. (One might also question the fact that she used her platform to criticize the statements of a group that had no right of reply here). The mayor, however, allowed her to proceed with her own defence and to blame the four councillors for the harassment of the staff, for which he attributed full responsibility.

The councillors will have the opportunity to assert that the mayor has the nerve to put on their backs what he himself is responsible for.

When Mr. André Cliche intervened and demanded a return to the regular procedure, the mayor urged him to shut up, calling him unbearable.

Mr. Johnston will remind that the procedure limits these interventions to 2 minutes and that it is necessary to stick to the subject of the debate.

Administration

Mr. Cliche wants to know the amount of the legal fees charged to the Mayor's defense for his citation before the CMQ. Mr. Ghali, like Mrs. Cronier, said he did not have the answer at this time.

He would like to introduce a resolution requesting a legal opinion on what constitutes reasonable costs in the defense of an elected official.

And another one asking for a tracking system of the municipality's files. The Mayor responded that this was not on the agenda; it would have to be deferred to New Business (Public Issues). He commented on the requests by reiterating that it was the unnecessary ordering of legal advice that was causing the increase in legal fees.

Because of the need for additional staff, according to the mayor, Ms. Monique Goupil, a retired municipal employee, is rehired.

In 4.6, an authorization of expenditure in the amount of $38,274 for plans and specifications submitted by the firm Arrimage.com Inc. was granted without discussion. (The name of the new interim director of the Roads and Recreation Department, Mr. André Philippe Hébert, is associated with this firm. This situation highlights the potential for conflict of interest in a small municipality, given the limited availability of specialized firms or experienced personnel; especially when disorganization sets in).

Public Safety; Public Works; Environment

Respectively, the councillors chairing the committees on each of these three services, Mr. Yvon Paradis, Mr. André Cliche and Mr. David Zgodzinski, will say that they have no report to present this month.

Planning and Economic Development

Councillor Eric Johnston, responsible for the Comité consultatif en environnement (CCU), will indicate that the level of requests for permits, minor derogations or others, has become unsustainable, and that it is necessary to hold two meetings per month of the committee with the urban planning services. He apologizes to citizens for any delays this may cause. (Indeed, from the long list of applications already on the agenda, including eight for new construction of a main building, the municipality seems to be taking advantage of the real estate boom that has been driven by the attractiveness of the region, and perhaps in part by the pandemic and the consequent popularity of teleworking).

The mayor will indicate that the numbers reflect this boom; that permit applications totaled $7M in investment from the beginning of the year to the end of March, compared to only $1.2M at the same time in 2020; a 6-fold increase in such real estate investment.

Item 8.35, will bring Council's agreement on the offer to purchase lots on Mount St. (It will be recalled that the purchaser, Mr. Louis Quenneville, wishing to give access easements to Lake St. Francois-Xavier for the lots he was planning to create, had initially been refused. The new offer to purchase contained, on the contrary, a waiver of such a right of access). It brought comments from the mayor, who was pleased that the case had been settled, and from Councillors Johnston and Zgodzinski. The latter did not want to settle for a whereas to the resolution which contained an easement of non-access to Lake St. Francis Xavier by third parties. The mayor finally proposed that the content of the whereas be moved to the resolution itself and that he would ensure that the acceptance of this offer by the municipality be conditional upon such an easement being prescribed by notarial order; this was acceptable.

Topics of public interest

Mr. André Cliche was able to present his resolution requesting that a tracking system be put in place for the municipality's files. (It will be recalled that Mr. Cliche had complained about the impossibility for councillors to follow the current evolution of expenses. The resolution was adopted by the majority, i.e. the four councillors opposed to the mayor. (Unlike the previous meeting, which Councillor Y. Paradis did not attend, Mr. Ghali's support for the votes of his allies, Councillors Suzanne Y. Paradis and Myriam Rioux, was not sufficient to defeat it. Did the resolution imply that we could not be satisfied with the mayor's assertions that he was rigorously carrying out his duties at this level?)

The mayor will strongly denounce the adoption of the resolution. A free-for-all, as he concluded at the end of the session, had just been unleashed. The mayor's insults to the four councillors, and especially to Mr. Cliche, whom he seems to perceive as the author of his citation to the CMQ, will rain down. "It's insulting, rude; it's pretending that the mayor is not doing his job..." It is up to the administration to see to the follow-up, he will argue. Present tables and follow up on everything? "No one is bound to do the impossible.

This is how the consultants are adding to their harassment of staff. They are responsible for all these departures. He authoritatively reminds that councillors, outside of council meetings, do not have the right to intervene with the administration. The municipality was running smoothly before they took over. It's their fault that the work isn't getting done. "Mr. Cliche, you hate the municipality!

It is Councillor Johnston who will give the most scathing retort to the mayor; but without using insults, (as only Mr. Ghali, president of the assembly and yet in charge of seeing to the respect of decorum, allows himself during these sessions or on his Facebook page). He will recall that, after two years, it was necessary to realize that we were badly directed. He will assert that the mayor is making up a lot of stories. "You lost the confidence of four members of the council, and Mr. Groulx left. You are the one who is responsible for the situation.

Mr. Cliche will say that the resolution is necessary. He will also reply to the mayor by indicating that at the last work session, he yelled at the councillors; if that wasn't harassment...

To Mr. Cliche, the mayor will say that he harassed Councillor Groulx to the point of causing him to resign. Mr. Cliche: "Totally false! Stop these lies and defamation!

Against Mr. Johnston, he returned to the "gravel" file and insinuated that he had put himself in a conflict of interest regarding the repair of "his" street. "You only see the signs of piastres", he will throw to him. Mr. Johnston's response, which refutes all the accusations of the mayor: "You create false stories. He will assert that Mr. Ghali, during discussions on his road repair program with the associations of Lac Notre-Dame, Noiret, Gustav and others, which represent hundreds of citizens, ignored them completely; something that can’t be done and that really shocked him.

Mr. Cliche presented another resolution, to request an opinion from the bar on the definition of reasonable legal fees for the mayor's defense before the CMQ. The resolution will be adopted; Ms. Paradis will even support the four opponents of the Mayor, to show that there is nothing to hide.

Mr. Johnston will introduce a resolution to make the awarding of legal fees public. Claiming to want transparency, all will accept the resolution.

Questions from Councillors

Ms. Paradis will go back to the 2nd press release of the Groupe citoyen Wentworth-Nord to try to complete her denunciation of what is stated there. She will again exceed the 5 minutes allotted here for a question...

Questions from the public

- A question concerning the expected date of the presentation of the municipality's financial statements will come up again; it will be asked by Mrs. Line Chapados. The mayor will answer "Soon".

- Mr. Yves Léveillé

  • Will ask what is planned for the Journées de la culture; the Mayor promises a follow-up;
  • Will ask if the spring street sweeping will be on the agenda soon; in the meantime, he has cleaned up his part of the Principale...;
  • Will propose to the council members to reread some of Lafontaine's fables, expressing that the conduct of these sessions, with the amount of insults that are uttered, is shameful.

- Mrs. Danielle Desjardins

  • Asked about the recording of the present meeting; fearing that its broadcasting would suffer the same fate as the previous one;
  • Wants to respond to the comments of Mrs. Suzanne Y. Paradis on the content of the 2nd communiqué of the Groupe citoyen Wentworth-Nord ; but only succeeded in inviting the councillor to subscribe to the group's mailings, so as not to have to complain about not receiving them;
  • Reminded that the financial statements have been overdue for the last three years, contrary to what happened under the previous administration. The Mayor informed her that the deadline for filing the 2020 financial statements has been extended to June due to the pandemic.

- Mr. Adrian Hausermann suggested that passes be sold to make the access to the municipal trails, etc., somewhat more profitable.

- Mrs. Christiane XYZ asked about the availability of lots in Wentworth-Nord. There are lots sold for non-payment of taxes; but it is necessary to inquire with the MRC, the mayor indicates to her. Mr. Johnston added that the municipality has a list of small lots for sale.

- Mrs. Line Chapados asked about harassment. The mayor indicated that there is indeed a fair fight; but that is what democracy is all about!

With all reservations, pending the availability of the recording and the minutes, by Carl Chapdelaine.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

2nd communiqué of Groupe citoyen Wentworth-Nord

Guide for Elected Municipal Officials

(Excerpts from the «Guide d’accueil et de référence pour les élues et les élus municipaux» and the «Règlement sur la régie interne des séances du conseil municipal de Wentworth-Nord»)

 "This welcome and reference guide is an introduction to the mandate of an elected official.

The responsibility of the Mayor.
1. To preside over meetings of Municipal Council in a manner that maintains order and decorum.
2. To participate in the decision-making process at Municipal Council meetings: As Mayor, ... you may exercise your right to vote, but it is not a requirement, unless prescribed by law.
3. As mayor, you may exercise a veto over a council decision (by-laws, resolutions, bonds, contracts, agreements or acts) by refusing to approve it. This veto is suspensive: it can be overturned if a majority of council members required by law re-enacts the same decision. Once re-passed, the decision is legal and valid, despite your refusal.
4. Sign by-laws, resolutions and contracts of the municipality after they have been adopted by council.
5. Oversee the enforcement of by-laws and resolutions. You shall also communicate to Council any information deemed to be of interest.
6. To exercise supervisory, investigative and control powers over the affairs and the officers and employees of the municipality. In addition, you shall ensure that the revenues of the municipality are collected and expended in accordance with the law.
7. In the event of an emergency that threatens the lives of citizens, their health or the integrity of municipal facilities, you may authorize such expenditures and award such contracts as are deemed necessary to remedy the situation.
8. Represent the entire population of the municipality. In addition, you represent the municipality on the council of the MRC."

The responsibility of the Councillor.
1. Attend the municipal council meetings. You will represent the interests of the community.
2. Participate in decision making.
3. Vote on all resolutions and by-laws unless there is a conflict of interest.
4. You may be ... appointed to boards or committees established by the council. You may also be appointed to specific issues as a Councillor, in which case your involvement must be consistent with the responsibilities of a municipal officer.
5 (The council of a municipality must appoint a Councillor to the position of Deputy Mayor. If you are so appointed, you will then perform the duties of the mayor in his or her absence...)"

"Resolution: It is by resolution that a municipal council exercises its powers of an administrative nature. Resolutions are usually for one-time actions and are often very limited in time or scope."

"By-law: A by-law is the means by which a municipality implements a legislative power conferred on it by the provincial legislature. A by-law is delegated legislation. ...Once in force, it has the force of law within the municipality.

In general, there are five steps to implementing (the by-law):
1. Notice of Motion
This notice states the purpose of the by-law. It must be given by a member of council at a meeting prior to the meeting at which the by-law will be passed. This notice is not subject to a vote of the members of council and does not require the publication of a public notice.
2. The draft by-law
The proposed by-law specifies the content of the by-law. It must be filed before, after or at the same time as the notice of motion. The draft by-law may be amended following its presentation without having to be presented again. However, the changes must not be such as to affect the intent of the by-law. Copies of the proposed by-law shall be made available to the public as soon as possible after its introduction.
3. Adoption of the by-law
The by-law is adopted by the Council by the majority provided for by law. The by-law must be adopted at a meeting separate from the meeting or meetings at which the notice of motion and the draft by-law are tabled...
4. Public notice
The by-law must be made public in the manner provided for by law and in accordance with the elements set out therein.
5. The coming into force
The by-law comes into force on the day the public notice is published. However, it may set a later date for all or part of its provisions."

Wentworth-Nord Specific Rules (citations):
Section 2.10 of the Wentworth-Nord Council Meetings Bylaw specifies that, "The preliminary agenda shall be posted on the municipality's website 72 hours prior to the meetings."
"2.12. After the adoption of the agenda, a period is reserved for elected officials who wish to make a statement.
2.20. Elected officials must stick to the subject of the debate and avoid personal allusions and insinuations, violent, hurtful or disrespectful words towards anyone, unparliamentary expressions and turns of phrase.

     Question Period
7.6. Each speaker shall have a maximum of 5 minutes to ask a question and a sub-question, after which the chair of the session may end the intervention.
7.7. Any person may ask a new question and a new sub-question when all the persons who wish to ask a question have done so, and so on in turn until the end of the question period.
7.8. A question asked must relate to a matter of public interest that is within the jurisdiction of Wentworth-Nord or its Council...
7.9. The answer to a question must be limited to the subject matter it touches upon, be brief.
7.13. All elected officials shall demonstrate at all times during council meetings the utmost propriety of behavior and a blameless and respectful attitude toward other council members and citizens."

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

call for applications

Wentworth-Nord Council special Meeting Of March 26, 2021

Ordre du jour    Projet de procès-verbal

Mayor Ghali presided over this videoconference. Mr. Yvon Paradis was the only councillor absent. The administration was represented by the interim Director General, Mr. Jason Neil, who had resigned, and Ms. Véronique Cronier, who should replace him in this position. The counter on the Zoom application will show approximately 30 participants.

i. First, council had to accept Mr. Neil's resignation. Councillor Myriam Rioux moved the resolution; due to lack of support from councillors, the Mayor seconded the motion. Councillors David Zgodzinski and Eric Johnston then explained that they did not accept the first two recitals of the resolution.

(As always, only the members of Council have the details of the resolutions or draft regulations in front of them, so the public can only guess at the content of the resolutions through the discussion among them. It is therefore sometimes very difficult for them to understand the meaning of the debates. Since the resolution was proposed by an ally of the mayor and supported by him, it is assumed that the "whereas" in question were in some way blaming the opposing councillors for the situation at City Hall. Throughout the meeting, Mr. Ghali, will resume with a virulence not yet reached his attacks and insults against Councillor André Cliche, whom he probably believes to be the author of the denunciations of which he is the subject to the Commission municipale du Québec. With Councillor Paradis absent, the mayor and his two allies were able to secure a majority during this session).

After a long and inextricable debate, the resolution is however refused, and thus the resignation of Mr. Neil with it...

Here, the mayor, (still taking advantage of his platform), will engage in a full-scale attack (and most contemptuous) against Councillor Cliche. The latter, recalling that he is himself an elected official, will try to bring him back to order; pointing out that he insults him and damages his reputation on this occasion and also on Facebook. Mr. Ghali will claim that he can make the comments he wants. *

In addition, in view of the rejection of the resolution accepting the resignation of Mr. Neil, Councillor David Zgodzinski asked what was the point of the resolutions that followed and which were intended to deal with the aftermath of his departure. However, the Mayor indicated that Mr. Neil was still leaving and that the agenda items should be continued to ensure continuity of operations in the administration.

ii. Mr. André Philippe Hébert, (already involved in the municipal administration), was appointed Acting Director for the Roads and Recreation Department, replacing Mr. Neil. Councillor Cliche had a clause inserted in the resolution indicating that this was an interim appointment limited to six months and that, in the meantime, a permanent hiring process would be initiated. It was adopted unanimously.

iii. Regarding the appointment of a strategic advisor in municipal management, proposed by Mr. Johnston, seconded by Ms. Paradis, Councillor Zgodzinski wanted to know what his job description would be and if he would submit a report to council at each meeting. According to Mr. Cliche (?), it would be up to the Human Resources Committee to define his tasks. It was passed unanimously.

iv. Then it is the resolution to appoint Mrs. Véronique Cronier as interim Assistant Director General and Secretary-Treasurer, to replace, here also, Mr. Neil and eventually assist Mrs. Matteau when she returns from sick leave (?). (Ms. Cronier is currently administrative assistant to the Director General and the Mayor). Mr. Cliche will still want the Human Resources Committee to define the tasks for this new position. He will also want to set a maximum of six months for this interim position and begin the process of permanent hiring (?).

At this point, Mr. Ghali resumed his insinuations and insults towards Mr. Cliche, concluding that he is rude, a specialist in bickering, etc. In front of the protests, he will even have the audacity, instead of withdrawing his remarks, to affirm that he weighs his words...

Mr. Johnston will support Mr. Zgodzinski's or Mr. Cliche's intervention on the need to properly define the duties of positions that do not currently exist. The alternative would be to replace "Assistant Director General " here with "Acting Director General " (?). For the other positions as well, according to Mr. Zgodzinski.

Ms. Paradis intervened to say that the resolutions were quite clear and that a lot of time was wasted. Mr. Neil intervened to clarify that the job descriptions were quite detailed. The resolution was adopted despite the opposition of Councillor Cliche, because of its lack of clarity.

Mr. Johnston will want to assure Ms. Cronier, who is attending the meeting, of the support of the members of Council.

v. The appointment of Ms. Carole Lavoie, (already in accounting), as assistant secretary-treasurer, proposed by Ms. Paradis, seconded by Ms. Rioux, will again raise the lack of clarity, perceived by Mr. Cliche, of the designation of this position. He would like it to be temporary. Mr. Ghali commented that they were only trying to fix the pots he had broken... Mr. Johnston reminded everyone that the availability of funds for all these hires was endorsed by the responsible authority.

Mr. Ghali had more to say about Mr. Cliche. He again hammered home the point (no doubt to get it into the minds of those present) that even when the resolutions were explained to him, the councillor did not understand them... (Mr. Cliche, like no other member of council, will not allow himself to make such comments about the mayor or any other councillor. Here, intimidation by the person in authority appears to us to be clearly added to the insults).

vi. It will still be necessary to appoint Mr. Shawn Macdonald, (currently a recreation worker), as supervisor and team leader for the road department. As well as Mr. André Giroux as human resources advisor to negotiate the renewal of the collective agreement with the employees of the Municipality of Wentworth-Nord.

Question period

Ms. Line Chapados will seek explanations on the lack of communication of this special meeting and on the respect of the deadlines for such a procedure. While Ms. Cronier will evoke technical problems; Mr. Johnston will seem to assert that, even if it was the custom, it was not mandatory. (In the case of a special meeting.)

*Our comment: Section 2.20 of the Wentworth-Nord Council Meetings Rules of Order specifies that: "Elected officials shall confine themselves to the subject matter of the debate and avoid personal allusions and insinuations, violent, hurtful or disrespectful words to any person, unparliamentary expressions and turns of phrase." Règlement sur la régie interne des séances du conseil de W-N.

If a mayor, in Quebec, can express such comments to a councillor, can we also give our interpretation here? By dint of blaming his victim, does not a malicious person hope that the label he seeks to attribute to him will eventually stick in the minds of the public before whom he utters these epithets or defamations? And if it is shocking enough to find such behavior in schoolyards, what can it be when it comes from the "leader" of a community? Doesn't history show to what extremes they can even lead a whole nation? 

Unlike usual, you will not be able to hear or rehear the comments made at this videoconference: "Unfortunately, due to a problem beyond our control, the video version of the Special Session of March 26 is not available". But, they still managed to write a draft of the minutes of the meeting... Are you surprised? Notice on the March 26 meeting of W-N's Council (French).

With all due respect, by Carl Chapdelaine.


Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version).

Wentworth-Nord Musical Ride

special meeting will be held by video conference at 9:00 a.m. Friday, March 26. The 72-hour deadline for its publication was not met; no one knew about it!

The agenda indicates that a series of positions are to be filled: Acting General Manager, Acting Director of the Highway Department, Supervisors, and Assistants; as Mr. Jason Neil would be leaving his dual role. (Mr. Cadieux appears to be one of the few survivors of the old guard in the administration; but the year is still young... Politics seems to be in full swing at the Maison du Citoyen; but in this mess, the Citizen may not be happy).

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Par Carl Chapdelaine

Wentworth-Nord Council Meeting Of March 19, 2021

Ordre du jour   Video version

The video conference was chaired by Mayor Ghali and was attended by all of Council. The counter on the Zoom application will show around 50 participants. To our surprise, Mr. Jason Neil, Acting General Director, represented the administration. There were very specific rumours that day that he was resigning, creating panic on Council. How could he have been retained?

Statements by elected officials

The mayor was happy with the fact that only 11 permanent residents of the municipality had caught Covid-19 since the beginning. The focus now was on vaccination.

Councillor Cliche gave a brief report for the committee responsible for negotiations with the MRC on the situation in Montfort. As one would expect, everything was confidential until further notice. He thanked the residents who had participated in the consultation he had initiated, which had enlightened Council on the situation.

Councillor David Zgodzinski, for his part, saluted his colleagues on Council for the adoption, which will be seen below, of his resolution* on the hiring of constables to monitor visitor traffic in Montfort. These agents should also make sure that only the people of the village have access to the beach. He also thanked the residents who had supported his awareness campaign on the need for this constabulary surveillance. He stressed, as usual, that the MRC had created many problems in Montfort and that it did not sufficiently take into account the consequences of its actions. *The resolution was not on the draft agenda.

Administration

In 4.7, Councillor Eric Johnston will indicate that, as in 2020, there will be, due to the pandemic, an exemption of interest and penalty for the payment of property taxes beyond the usual deadlines.

$2,400 will go to the Cercle des fermières Saint-Michel/Pine-Hill to make trivets. Also, a maximum amount of $2,000 is granted to the Étoile du Nord, with the persons involved, for its services to help seniors who need to be accompanied to the Covid-19 vaccination centers.

Mr. Ghali will invite the council to ask the government to apply the measure concerning vaccination within companies to the first responder services of Wentworth-Nord and thus allow for the training of attendants to the vaccination who are cruelly lacking. Mrs. Charrette, Director of the Fire Safety Department of the municipality, will be the contact person in this process. The councillors are all in agreement.

Another point concerns the payment of the municipality's share of the MRC's financing.

Public Security

Councillor Yvon Paradis gives some information:

  1. He reminds that it is forbidden to park on the streets of the municipality and that offenders may be penalized.
  2. He also indicated that the council will regulate the development of fireworks and Chinese lanterns.

Councillor Zgodzinski presented his resolution on the hiring of constables to counter the effects of the influx of visitors at certain times and on weekends in Montfort, and to restrict access to the beach to village residents. He indicated that there were 1,600 boat washes at the Montfort Pavilion in 2020, compared to only 600 in 2019; a considerable increase and a good reflection of the explosion in traffic. He thanked his colleagues for their support; this shows their interest in Montfort's problems, which the residents will appreciate. Mr. Johnston seconds him. Mr. Cliche pointed out that the goal here is more to raise awareness than to crack down on offenders.

The mayor goes back to the preamble that would reserve the beach for Montfort residents only. The operation of the municipal beach is the responsibility of all citizens of Wentworth-Nord and they have the right to access it. Mr. Johnston explained that this is, for the moment, a general resolution on the hiring of a constabulary; and that it does not rule on the use of the beach.

Public works

The president of the road committee, Mr. Cliche, will announce a record year in this area for 2021. Mr. Johnston will indicate that we will cover the whole territory (dust or gravel?, etc.).

An inter-municipal agreement for work on Millette Road is finally completed. The mayor will indicate that the sediments discharged by this road are greatly polluting Lake Laurel and Lake Argenté. The work in question would aim, among other things, to remedy this situation (?). Councillor Suzanne Y. Paradis can't help but claim victory, especially since the project should be 95% subsidized by the government.

Environment

No meeting of the Environmental Advisory Committee this month. Appointment of two new representatives of the Saint-Michel sector to this committee: Ms. Nathalie Guay and Ms. Brigitte Thomas.

Councillor Johnston deposited his notice of motion of a draft by-law concerning the authorized locations for boat launching. He had explained, during the consultation of the residents of Montfort prior to the beginning of negotiations with the MRC, that it was necessary to formally define these locations first. This would allow the constables to enforce the regulations and prevent the introduction of boats anywhere in the lake. This by-law could be applied municipally.

The mayor specified that there is only one launching point under municipal jurisdiction at Lake St. Francis Xavier (the ramp near the marina). The other point, at Pavillon Montfort, is under the jurisdiction of the MRC.

A notice of motion and the tabling of draft by-law 2021-584, regarding the control of outdoor lighting, aim to reduce light pollution in the municipality, to allow the viewing of the starry sky.

Urban planning and economic development

In 8.3, the adoption of By-law 2017-498-7, to modify the delimitation of the residential zone H-60 (Lac à la Croix) and the residential zone H-58 (Lake St-Victor’s watershed), was moved by Councillor Johnston and seconded by Mr. Yvon Paradis. It was done unanimously. The Mayor reminded that the by-law was submitted to a written consultation and to two consultations by videoconference. There had been 4 signatures requesting that a referendum be held on its adoption. (Obviously, as his response to Ms. Colleen Horan during question period will show, he was not aware of much of the discussion that took place during these consultations, such as the potential environmental impact on Lac à la Croix and Lake Saint-François-Xavier of which it is tributary; or the fact that no resident of the latter lake had the opportunity to participate in the request for a referendum...)

At the adoption stage of the draft by-law in February, Mr. Zgodzinski was the only one to vote against it. (Was he happy with the same by-law now? What had changed since his first decision? Was it simply that the scenario proposed by the developer, Lac St-Victor Estates, with the acquisition of a waterfront lot by the Lake Saint-François-Xavier Environmental Fund, which was visibly endorsed by its Board of Directors, had been implemented? Or had there been an exchange of goodwill between him and the other members of the Council who had accepted his resolution on the hiring of constables? What if the whole scenario, with its easement, its dominant tenement and servient tenement, the appeal to all the waterfront property owners, a scenario decried by some as inappropriate and unworkable, turned sour?  Wouldn't the Councillor regret having taken all the responsibility? And, where is the promised legal advice and follow-up with Fund members?)

In 8.23, the Councillor of district 5 will propose the sale or transfer of lot 5 589 189 of the cadastre of Quebec to the Fund. It would be seconded by Mr. Eric Johnston, from district 6. Mr. Zgodzinski will specify that, by using this lot, the Fund will be able to make lot exchanges and ensure that there will be no access to the lake (coming from the crowns of outside properties). Wasn't it for such interventions that the Fund had been created, added the Councillor. The proposal was adopted unanimously.

This was followed by a long list of minor construction exemptions.

The Plan d'implantation et d'intégration architecturale (PIIA) (Site Planning and Architectural Integration Program) required new residential construction projects dealt with here to comply with the new rule concerning lighting control.

Recreation, Culture and Community Life

Hiring of part-time receptionists for the Montfort Pavilion and of a full-time supervisor; in the latter case, it was Mrs. Hélène Chartier, who was returning to work.

At the same time, lifeguards were being recruited for the 2021 summer season at Lake Laurel Beach.

Councillor Cliche gave an update from the Saint-Michel Church Committee on the transformation of the church for its new vocation. Among other things, a work plan was developed and the need to call upon an architectural firm was identified.

Mr. Yvon Paradis, for his part, (proposed to accept?) the project that would allow the disabled access to the Laurel Lake gazebo (?). Mr. André Philippe Hébert, of the Lac Laurel Association, explained that this would be made possible by the construction of a footbridge.

Question period

Mrs. Danielle Desjardins asked about the astronomical costs for the defense of Mayor Ghali before the Commission municipale du Québec. A budget of 100 000$ had been foreseen for 2021 and we had already paid almost half of this amount in legal fees. Mr. Serge Baron will intervene in the same sense. Councillor Suzanne Y. Paradis would state that the legal expenses incurred by her four colleagues cost much more (?)

Mrs. Line Chapados asked why several documents, such as minutes and financial statements prior to 2018, are missing from the municipal website. Councillor Johnston put the cause on the change of website; but the information is available on the government website. The mayor undertakes to publish them with the help of the service provider for the site.

Mrs. Danielle Desjardins asked when the last financial statements would be released. The answer was that we could not give a precise date. Mr. Baron asked how a budget and a three-year plan could be prepared without having already produced these financial statements.

As required by law, when, asked Ms. Desjardins, will the municipality make public the list of contractors who have been awarded contracts over $25,000 and the list of those to whom the sum of the awarded contracts totals over $25,000? The Mayor answered that this will be done as soon as possible.

Mr. Yves Léveillé will share some of his observations on the Montfort beach, next to his house:

  1. He saw few launches of kayaks and others; but he noted that motor boats, coming towards the shore, too often approached it.
  2. He thanked Council for the grant to the Montfort Art Gallery.
  3. He wanted to know the timetable for the cleaning of the ditch (on Principale Road?) Mr. Neil could not provide a date; we have no control over the procedure.
  4. He congratulated the members of council for holding this meeting with the required decorum.

(Did he speak too fast? On a question from Ms. Desjardins about the legal fees for the mayor's defense against the CMQ, inappropriate remarks were to crown the videoconference. The mayor reiterated that the four councillors against him were destroying the municipality... The citizen had asked him if he would reimburse the municipality for these fees if he was found guilty of the charges against him. Mr. Ghali indicated that he would not answer her question, but said that these were only disclosures).

Ms. Colleen Horan asked the Board about the Lac à la Croix issue. Among other things, she wanted to know about the possible environmental impact analysis of the project on the lake. The mayor, probably thinking only of Lac à la Croix, did not imagine such a problem. The resident, who has been involved in the protection of Lake Saint-François-Xavier for many years, recalled the catastrophic consequences of the flow of water and debris from Thurston Lake into the latter lake, when its beaver dam was destroyed. She made a comparison with the development at Lac à la Croix, which is also a tributary of the large lake.

The mayor assured her that he would submit the case to the council. For his part, the neighbouring district councillor who had presented the draft by-law, Mr. Johnston, indicated that it was premature to proceed with such an evaluation, since the details of the constructions were not yet known. Mr. Neil also commented on the matter; however, we were unable to capture his comments.

Ms. Myriam Dujardin returned to the issue of the beach, stating that it should be for swimming only; that this should be clearly indicated. Councillor Zgodzinski replied that this was the case but that some people were not respecting the regulations and that there should be a constable with the necessary authority to enforce the legislation.

Then Mr. David Clark asked several questions:

  1. He wanted to know to whom the permission to use the beach was addressed: the residents of the village, of the lake, of the district? He indicated that there were some activities taking place there, such as the traditional Montfort Regatta, which were attended by people from outside the village.
  2. What territory would the constables cover?
  3. What would be their mandate, power, etc.?
  4. Would they monitor access to the lake other than at the beach?
  5. Were we talking about regulations that only apply during this pandemic period, or beyond?
  6. Who would determine the capacity of the lake?
  7. Was there an overall plan rather than a piecemeal approach to address the various issues?

The mayor replied that the proposal was to enforce all relevant regulations on a permanent basis. He clarified that the beach, contrary to what was implied in one of the preambles of the proposed by-law, was to be accessible to all residents of Wentworth-Nord; upon proof of residency. Residents were to pay for its maintenance, etc. This was as long as the number of places allowed (25 in times of pandemic?) was not exceeded.

About obtaining an overall view of the situation in Montfort, the mayor answered that this was not the occasion to discuss it; but that it could be an issue for the next election campaign…

Moreover, the MRC, according to Mr. Ghali, had jurisdiction over its territory and made the decisions that concerned it. Councillor Zgodzinski disagreed; he read in the by-laws (or contracts) that the MRC still had to abide by the municipality's regulations on the Corridor, etc. He indicated that the constables would patrol the Corridor by bicycle.

(What if the mayor had given the right time, as opposed to the councilor? What if the constables had no jurisdiction to issue tickets on the territory under the jurisdiction of the MRC, the parking lots, the Corridor, the grounds of the Montfort Pavilion? If the MRC refused to share the bill for the maintenance of this constabulary? What would be the point of applying this resolution to Montfort? Coupled with a failure of the scenario he pushed through to prevent the Lac à la Croix project from allowing third party access to Saint-François-Xavier, Mr. Zgodzinski and his fellow council members who support him would be in big trouble. Wouldn't Mr. Ghali, on the eve of the municipal elections, have a field day denouncing their amateurism?)

With all reservations, pending the availability of the recording and the minutes, by Carl Chapdelaine.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) & Linguee.

the "Council’s Message"

On his mayor's Facebook page, Mr. Ghali informs us that the councillors have decided to replace "The Mayor’s Message" in the Gazette with the "Council’s Message". "Who will write it? - God knows!" he adds. We know that his opponents in council, as well as the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ), accuse him of using this forum to express "his personal position and not a municipal position".

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

C. Chap.

Wentworth-Nord Council Meeting of February 19, 2021 

Ordre du jour   Version vidéo

The Zoom counter will show 40 participants in this videoconference. All Council members were in attendance, as well as Mr. Jason Neil who was replacing the Executive Director, who was on sick leave.

Words from the Mayor and committee representatives

Following the acceptance of the agenda and minutes of the previous meetings, the Mayor paid tribute to Mr. Ed. Bachman, who passed away on January 20th, as well as to Mrs. Marie-Andrée Dionne. He specified that the former (who will be the subject of a later response by Mr. Ghali to the charges brought against him by the CMQ) resided on the (now famous) Du Domaine street. He will also recall the multiple implications of Ms. Dionne in the community. Finally, he will conclude by highlighting the centennial (February 21) of Mrs. Minnie (Goldstein) Johnson, a Montfort personality.

Before outlining the work of the Roads Committee, which he chairs, Councillor André Cliche will take as his own the tributes paid by the Mayor to the persons mentioned. The committee had met on January 22nd. In thanking the Public Works staff, Mr. Cliche will point out several novelties in the approach of the offer of these services: preventive maintenance, new tools, criteria for the choice of gravel or asphalt, the planned implementation of multi-year contracts with contractors, etc. He will say a word about the survey you are asked to participate in if it comes with your tax bill, and will cover both commercial residences and your use of the TaCL transportation service.

Councillor Yvon Paradis requested that his report on the Fire Committee be given at the next meeting.

Councillor Myriam Rioux will give an update on the Saint-Michel Church Committee. A budget of 700 000$ would have been voted.

Administration

The mayor proposed adherence to the declaration of commitment on democracy and respect, made by the Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ). It is unanimously adopted. (During the question period, Ms. Danielle Desjardins will question him on the subject, recalling that his declaration of commitment differs totally, both in letter and spirit, from what he himself says in social media).

Following the resignation of Councillor Groulx, Mr. Eric Johnston is designated deputy mayor until June 30. For his part, Mr. Jason Neil is appointed Acting General Manager for three months, in the absence of Mrs. Marie-France Matteau, and a person will be recruited, with the help of a consulting firm, to provide him with support for a fixed term of twelve months.

A request for the installation of a temporary telecommunications tower by Bell Mobility to improve this service was accepted.

An accountant, Ms. Carole Lavoie, was recruited on a temporary and partial basis to fill the vacant position.

Finally, since the Human Resources Committee is responsible for conducting an internal evaluation of employees and the Mayor sits on it, Mr. Yvon Paradis asked him if he would withdraw from the committee for this occasion. Mr. Ghali stated that he would be a member by right and Councillor David Zgodzinski replied that he would be in conflict of interest. Ms. Desjardins, once again, would agree with the Councillor in question period.

Public Safety

There is talk of setting up four roadblocks on the territory of Wentworth-Nord during the 2021 food drive.

Concerning the resignation of three first responders, we understand the explanations of Mr. Yvon Paradis, that they never gave any sign of life during the Holiday season.

Transportation and public works

The nine calls for tenders are adopted in series; the two contract awards are also adopted.

Environmental health and environment

The reappointment of the members of the Comité consultatif en environnement (CCE) was accepted. For Montfort: Adrian Hausermann and Marc Filion; for Laurel: Joann MacTavish and Johanne Laurencelle. Two positions are to be filled for the Saint-Michel sector.

The financial partnership with Abrinord for the sampling station in the Rivière du Nord watershed and with OBV RPNS for the implementation of the Réseau de surveillance volontaire des lacs (RSVL) in Wentworth-Nord are renewed.

Requests for reimbursement of 50% of the lake associations' water analysis fees under the RSVL are accepted.

Urban planning and zoning

The list of permits will be posted on the municipality's website, announces the mayor.

Several requests for minor exemptions and conformity analysis within the framework of the Plan d'implantation et d'intégration architecturale (PIIA) relate to the Lake Saint-Victor sector. Many of them are about new construction, including guest houses (!) and the expansion of the main building. This will lead Councillor Eric Johnston to say that there will be a lot of houses to be built in the area.

Finally, the adoption of the controversial second draft by-law 2017-498-7 amending Zoning By-law 2017-498 at Lac à la Croix is moved by Councillor E. Johnston and seconded by Mrs. Suzanne Y. Paradis. Mr. Zgodzinski will be the only one to vote against, as promised. (For more details, see our article: "Lac à la Croix: duped?")

Mr. Michael Duhaime, of the Planning and Environment Department, is promoted to the position of Class I Inspector.

Recreation, Culture and Community Life

Saint-Michel Church: It is proposed that an external consultant be mandated to review the entire file, propose planning and seek grants.

Two employee resignations at the reception desk at Montfort Pavilion.

Question period (or New Business) for council members

Mr. Zgodzinski points out the great advantage of having residents, both permanent and vacationers, participate in Council meetings (as well as consultations) via video conferencing (Zoom). He asked that Quebec be asked to ensure that this service could be offered in conjunction with the indoor presence, even after the pandemic. He noted the difficulty for many residents to attend these sessions in person, particularly in bad weather, darkness or snowy road conditions, and especially for those who are not present on the municipality's territory when they are held.

The mayor agrees and says that it is not even necessary to ask permission from the government. Councillor Johnston indicated that council members, in any case, are required to be present on site, under normal circumstances.

Citizen's Question Period

The first questions concern the adoption of the draft by-law on the Lac à la Croix (see our article).

Then, Ms. Danielle Desjardins will bring up again Mr. Ghali's participation in the internal investigation of the employees by stating that the mayor is facing the same accusations of misconduct before the CMQ and that these employees could be prosecution witnesses against him when he appears before the CMQ. Mr. Ghali, who had already asked her what she applies from the presumption of innocence, will take advantage of his reply to justify at length the actions he is accused of. Did we hear him state that he had learnt from Councillor Zgodzinski that it was one of the councillors who had led the CMQ to investigate him?

Mrs. Myriam Dujardin will come back to the danger of telecommunications towers. The mayor will again take the opportunity to indicate that it was the result of the decisions of the four councillors (which he has in his sights), while he was working instead to obtain from Bell the installation of fiber optics.

Marie-Chantal P. will complain about the lack of respect that is too often shown at council meetings. She specifically targeted, without naming him, the mayor. Also: "The citizen has rights. Listen to us. ..." Councillor Suzanne Y. Paradis, choosing to take the chairperson's place, will interrupt her, as she will do with Mrs. Desjardins, insisting that only questions to council be dealt with here. The citizen will have time to quote comments from Mr. Ghali addressed to Councillor Cliche, such as: "economist who does not understand the budget", and to Councillor Johnston: "travel manager". The mayor, in what appears to be his new strategy, and probably relying on the fact that most of the participants in this session did not know that he was the author of these remarks, will say loud and clear that she was right to denounce the misconduct of certain councillors; while denouncing the sabotage they have allegedly accomplished in the administration of municipal affairs.

With all reservations, pending the availability of the recording and the minutes, by Carl Chapdelaine.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) & Linguee.

Tyrants against W-N

Budget & Plan 2021-23; taxes & tariffs; Feb. 4


The videoconference session of February 4 is chaired by Mayor François Ghali. All councillors participate. On sick leave, Mrs. Marie-France Matteau, Director General, is replaced by Mr. Jason Neil, the replacement Secretary Treasurer.

The meeting is quickly suspended when Mr. Neil has a computer failure that deprives us of his presence, as well as of the recording of the debates. The situation quickly returned to normal.

(See attached tables for Mr. Neil's budget presentation).

Questions and comments from members of the Council

Councillor André Cliche accuses the Mayor of having deprived the citizen of information to which he was entitled on the use of certain funds. Mr. Ghali will later respond to the "derogatory remarks" of the Councillor, saying, among other things, that it is surprising that he, an economist, does not understand anything about the budget.

[The 2021 council meetings seem to have regained the zest of the previous year. But the derogatory or contemptuous exchanges are meant to maintain decorum. (Remark: "You have put your dress on backwards, Your Honour." Answer: "I'm surprised you noticed, Master.") Councillors Cliche and Johnston will certainly have learned from the mayor and developed a more combative attitude towards him. In addition, Councillor Suzanne Y. Paradis will be less quick to attack in this session than in the previous one.]

Councillor Eric Johnston indicated that, according to his calculations, the tax rate for vacant lots indicated in the table on Taxes and compensations does not "balance" and therefore seems to him erroneous. He added that it would be important to give the details of revenues (and expenses) for amounts over $100,000 so that the citizen is well informed. Recalling his intervention in the previous budget on the injustice he perceives in the taxation of small lots, he will say that he must, again and in particular for this reason, vote against the adoption of this budget.

Councillor Cliche was also going to vote against this budget, invoking the lack of information and the non-presentation of financial statements, which he will say are necessary for the elaboration of a budget. The mayor will answer that the exceptional circumstances experienced by the administration in 2020, due to Covid-19, the death of the auditor, the accountant's errors, etc., prevented the output of these financial statements before the budget was prepared; but that this does not affect its content. He will claim that he is not hiding anything. He calls upon the councillors to adopt this budget to allow the tax accounts to be sent and to move forward. He threatens to ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Andrée Laforest) to put the municipality under trusteeship if they do not adopt this budget.
Mr. Johnston explained that it is not so serious to postpone the adoption of the budget for a while, since the law allows continuing with the old one in the meantime; there is still time to send the tax bills.

Mr. Paradis will join the two councillors who have declared being against the adoption of the budget, while Mr. David Zgodzinski and the other members of Council will vote in favour. It will therefore be adopted.

In the same way, and with the same opposition, the three-year plan will be adopted.

Question Period

Mrs. Danielle Desjardins will ask if the management of the Montfort pavilion is profitable for the municipality. Without dwelling on the sums involved, the mayor will answer yes, taking into account all that this institution brings to the community. Moreover, it allows the municipality to manage the Pavilion's budget and services, which, he and Councillor Zgodzinski say, is unlike what existed under the Coop des 4 Pôles. But the latter will rather admit that this management costs the municipality several tens of thousands of dollars, because essential services have been added and the MRC (which pays only $32,000), does not give its fair share of the costs incurred.

Ms. Desjardins will have the same question regarding the profitability of the Farmers' Market; also claiming that it competes with the Coopérative de Laurel. The mayor will justify the existence of the Farmers' Market, stating that it serves the citizens and that, being a one-time event, it cannot harm the Co-op. Mrs. Paradis, with her experience as a former owner of the convenience store, will argue that the Market, on the contrary, stimulates traffic at the store. The mayor will admit that it is the municipality that pays for the supply of fruits and vegetables and that the profits from their sale are managed by Ms. Céline McSween.

Finally, Ms. Desjardins asked the mayor how much his defense, in the face of the accusations of the Quebec Municipal Commission, will cost the municipality's treasury. It is Councillor Johnston who will lift the veil by indicating that the council has budgeted more than 100 000$ in legal fees.

A citizen complains that not enough is being done for the environment and asks what will be done for this year. He sees that the sums have decreased in this respect and is concerned about it. The mayor responded that the $150,000 savings are the result of integrating these services with those of urban planning. But the citizen does not understand that one director can do as much as two. (We asked council about the same question at the beginning of the term.) Mr. Ghali will tell him that the same employees provide the services that existed before.
Mr. A. Cliche will say that many services have been neglected, but that we don't have the information to judge that.

Mr. Johnston will admit that he is disappointed with the achievements of the municipality in environment, even if he agreed with the integration of the two directions. He will add, with the same voice, that there should perhaps be a person in charge of the environment... (Will we be able to reinstate Mrs. Raphaëlle Robitaille as head of the Environment?).

Mrs. Suzanne Y. Paradis will point out that the president of the Environment Committee, Councillor Zgodzinski, took two years to bring the lake associations together. (It seems that such meetings are now being planned.) The Mayor pleaded that everyone should work to protect the environment.

A resident of one lake said that there are several environmental infractions on the lake, but that nothing is being done to stop them. The mayor answered that notices are being sent out; that programs are being offered for individuals with non-compliant facilities; that more awareness needs to be raised; that hiring has been done, etc.

But Councillor Zgodzinski will say that the lack of follow-up by the municipality has led to the abandonment of the process. Ms. Desjardins will specify that the mayor suspended, at the beginning of his mandate, several infractions for review of their relevance by the municipality's lawyers. None of these offences were subsequently cancelled. She will want to know where these files stand since the election of Mr. Ghali.

Mr. Eric Johnston added that the Ministry of Environment can also be contacted directly.

For the Taxes and Tariffs session, By-law 2020-580 was passed, while the agenda item on contracting Arimage for a geotechnical study was postponed as not all the data was available, according to Director Jason Neil.

It is our understanding that Mr. A. Cliche will have asked if the elimination of penalties for late payment of taxes, known in 2020 with Covid, would be postponed to 2021. The mayor will answer yes. He will also ask him about the survey that some residents will receive with their tax bill...

In closing the meeting, Mr. Ghali will thank Ms. Matteau for her total involvement in the preparation of the budget. (Did he suggest that the pressure exerted on the Executive Director for this work, by the councillors in his sights, would have pushed her to exhaustion)?

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) & Linguee.

With all reservations and pending video and minutes; by Carl Chapdelaine.

Groupe citoyen Wentworth-Nord

Creation of a group in Wentworth-Nord that wants to "ensure that our elected officials work for all citizens in accordance with the rules and ethics".

Development vs. environment

While it is all well and good to talk about sustainable development, to make people forget that the increase in habitat necessarily attacks the environment, it is clear that the protection of the latter, which is involved in this concept, is not simple. And to achieve this, planning, as already outlined in the 2017 Wentworth-Nord Urban Plan, is necessary.1

In this municipality, even more so than in the rest of the Pays-d'en-Haut, an increase in the number of residents, mainly vacationers, seems to be the probable avenue for socio-economic development. Ideally and for the greater good of Wentworth-Nord, a proportion of these vacationers will convert to permanent residents. Since more than half of the new residents, according to the last census of Canada, settled in the eastern sector of the municipality, this is where the pressure on the environment, including lakes, road infrastructure and other municipal services, is likely to be greatest; as in Montfort.

The opposition between this development and environmental protection is coupled with at least one other major component: the conflict between welcoming newcomers and protecting the privileges of existing residents. Privilege there is, in fact, when you are a lakeside resident or simply enjoying a peaceful environment to protect and whose enjoyment you do not necessarily want to share.

One thus wonders, when confronted with the development project at Lac à la Croix, what the stakes are. Is it a question, for the promoters, of making the most of the space in this oasis-like setting? Is it also a question of putting a foot on land, or rather in the water, at Lac Saint-François-Xavier? Or to seek only to glimpse a sustainable development, i.e. one that would not harm the environment and that would not give access to this lake as well as to the privilege of living there? For the opponents of Lake Saint-François-Xavier to such a project at the head of "their" lake, is it a question of protecting the environment of the lake or of defending themselves against the appropriation of "their" territory? But it doesn't matter, since an alliance between the various opponents goes without saying.

Ms. Chantal Carrier, then representative of the Ministère des Affaires municipales et des Régions at the Forum national sur les lacs, held in Sainte-Adèle in June 2008, has taken up, in line with the orientations of Abrinord, with its Plan directeur de l’eau (PDE)2, and other organizations, the main facts of the problem and the considerations that should guide the action of stakeholders. Her presentation was entitled: "Protecting our lakes through a municipal planning and management approach". Applied to our region, it is, in concrete terms, the planning and management of cottages areas, to which our development would be attached. We will extract some excerpts from this document.

"I think that (this approach to planning and management) is one of the elements that make it possible, in particular, to protect our lakes. I think that among the actors who are called upon in this field, the municipalities have a determining role."

"We must protect our lakes because we see more and more that they are under attack, that they are invaded, that they have problems. ... We must also protect our lakes because they are a public good. The lakes do not belong to an individual or very rarely, but rather to everyone. Everybody includes the entire community, whether you live on the shore or not, and that includes our elected officials and all the people who want to visit bodies of water, even if they are not on their territory.

"Cottaging has also become the new form of urbanization of cities in Quebec, of many rural municipalities as well. ...; it is (today) done by the lakes; it is done with permanent residences. So, we are in a completely different era than what we lived before, with small cottages that were occupied one or two months a year."

"... we are (also) now in the era of tourist residences, that is to say that cottages, apartments, furnished houses that are rented for a rather important period in the summer are more and more popular. There has been an increase of almost 45% in four years in this type of resort activity. Often, these are people who are in the prime of life, who are still working, who are going to have their residence in town as well as a cottage to retire to. But since they don't occupy it all summer, they rent it out. So, we know that there are municipalities that already have to ask themselves questions about this form of occupation."

"We must also look at the carrying capacity of the lakes."

"There is the accessibility and maintenance of public access. Unfortunately, we have developed in a linear fashion along the shores and bodies of water without maintaining significant public access. Here..., I'm talking about keeping something that allows people in the municipality who may not have the means to build a cottage on the lake to have access to the lake, at least to go swimming."

"It is also necessary to protect sensitive areas. ... Yes it is necessary to develop, but it is necessary to develop while taking into account the environment."

"(MRCs) can also require local municipalities to adopt a bylaw on comprehensive development plans, commonly known as PAEs. In other words, we will say to the municipalities: 'For this sector, you are going to require comprehensive planning and you are going to adopt such criteria to accept a project within this framework.' "

"With a sensitive lake, where you can see, for example, that there are algae or other things, without saying that you are blocking the subdivision forever, you can come in and say that you want to have much wider facades at the land level."

"The most interesting but the least used is what we call park contributions. All municipalities in Quebec, in their subdivision by-laws, have an article or two that says that if you do a cadastre, a subdivision, you must give 10% for park purposes in surface area or in money, according to the convenience of the Council." "(Or) ask for 10 per cent in money, set up a fund and use it to protect the lakeshore..." "Regarding the special measures applicable along lakes and waterways, municipalities can even prohibit construction in this area, particularly via the shoreline."

"When everything is built and implemented, the question of maintenance of public and private roads arises. Public roads are maintained by the municipality; private roads are maintained by the people, either the owner or the residents' association. On the other hand, again with the Municipal Powers Act, if 50% of the roadside residents agree and if the municipality agrees, the municipality can now maintain the road. But you don't have to do it at all."

"In closing, I think that municipalities are really the pivotal body in this planning and management of cottaging."3

Last November, a document commissioned by Sainte-Anne-des-Lacs (SADL) proposed an environmental policy to deal with the urbanization it was facing. Entitled "Campagne ou banlieue?" and signed jointly by the Comité sur la politique environnementale (CPE) and the members of the Comité consultatif en Environnement (CCE), it was the result of two and a half years of work. In other words, it took up the first topic of our article. But the proposals it contained, which favoured "a pause for growth, the time to adopt the tools necessary to preserve SADL's rural character", seemed to divide the Council.

The former provincial Minister of the Environment under Jean Charest, Mr. Thomas Mulcair, member of the CPE, said: "Sainte-Anne-des-Lacs and Wentworth-Nord are the only municipalities in the area that still have the campaign label. The others are becoming suburbs".4 and 5

However, Wentworth-Nord seems to be at a very different stage of development than Sainte-Anne-des-Lacs, and this is probably an opportunity for Wentworth-Nord to identify the way forward.

In Wentworth-Nord, the resort is essentially a summer one, centered on the presence of the lakes. It does not offer the alpine ski centers, the numerous leisure or cultural activities, the tourist offer, the stores, restaurants and various attractions of Saint-Sauveur, Sainte-Adèle, or other towns and villages on the axis of the former railway line of the Petit train du Nord. Water activities therefore, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and cycling, among others, have a promising future. But these activities require the services of the municipality, without guaranteeing any revenue in return.

The Wentworth-Nord urban plan, a legacy of the passage of Mr. Emmanuel Farmer, his team, the municipal council no doubt, and the consultations that accompanied it, has provided a good backdrop for identifying this path forward. We must find there again the dilemma we have mentioned, between development and environmental protection or the privileges to which everyone believes they are entitled, but which this growth threatens.

By initiating watershed planning in Wentworth-Nord, this plan is innovative.6 The approach aims, among other things, to respect the logic of the ecosystem that the watershed represents, rather than simply trying to frame habitat growth. "The goal is to better control the health of the lakes in relation to the human nuisances created by lakeside dwellings and activities". "The municipality therefore began by inventorying and classifying the major lakes on its territory according to the state of health of each one. Following this categorization, a maximum density was established in order to protect sensitive lakes." (See maps no. 3, 4 and 5 of Plan1 or our attached map).

Analyses, plans and other studies often require considerable effort and resources; they are valuable tools in the hands of those who are willing to endorse and use them. With more popularization, they could also provide the necessary information that is too often lacking to ordinary citizens who are called upon to vote for one or another of the decisions affecting their living environment.

However, serious constraints have crept into the development planning formula, particularly with regard to the preservation of the lakes' environment; this is, of course, the danger of invasive alien aquatic plants, temporarily overshadowed today by the spread of Covid-19.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) & Linguee

1. https://wentworth-nord.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Plan-durbanisme-octobre-2017-495.pdf
2. https://www.abrinord.qc.ca/pde/
3. https://crelaurentides.org/images/images_site/evenements/eau_lacs/2008/forum_national/actes2008.pdf , p. 146.
4. https://www.journalacces.ca/remue-meninges-pour-une-politique-environnementale-a-sainte-anne-des-lacs/
5. https://www.sadl.qc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Politique-environnementale-projet.pdf
6. http://www.releveenurbanisme.ca/2018/04/10/la-planification-par-bassins-versants-de-wentworth-nord/

By Carl Chapdelaine

Wentworth-Nord's Council Meeting of January 15, 2021 (Notes)

Agenda    Video

Mayor François Ghali chaired the session which was held by videoconference. All six councillors, as well as about twenty citizens, participated. Among the latter was the presence of representatives from Lake St. Victor, who probably came to make sure that they were not going to be quietly passed the adoption, by resolution, of draft by-law 2017-498-7 modifying the zoning of certain lots at Lac à la Croix. (A consultation session on the project, announced on December 18, was held on January 6 via videoconference. See our article on "Wentworth-Nord-les-Lacs").

The session was to be held without the unsightly altercations between the Mayor and the "four" councillors that would occur in 2020; would this be the highlight of the New Year? However, Mr. Ghali could not prevent the less controversial debates between Councillor Suzanne Y. Paradis and these same councillors.

Mayor's Statement

The mayor highlights the recent declaration, by the Union des municipalités du Québec, on "respect in democracy", following the multiplication of aggressive statements and intimidation on social networks; among others against municipal councillors. This declaration is coupled with a campaign by the latter to fight against this trend. "This campaign must also be yours," adds the mayor. Taking up the words of the president of the UMQ, who invited municipal councils to support this initiative, he added that democratic debate must be conducted with respect for others, particularly those who are committed to representing citizens.

Committee Chairs' Reports

For the Internet committee, Mr. Eric Johnston indicated that, following the government's statements, things seemed to be moving on the electronic communications side. He hoped to have some good news to announce at the next meeting.

Mrs. Paradis again asked Councillor Cliche for an update on the presentation of the Highways Committee report. Mr. Cliche reminded that he had sent it by e-mail and did not know if it had been published on the municipality's website.

Administration

Mrs. Paradis once more attacked Councillor Cliche regarding the legal bills presented to the municipality before their authorization on December 14th. She presented a resolution so that they would not be charged to the municipality. She also claimed that, in the absence of a council resolution, some of these expenses would have had to go through the Director General. Under the control of the "four" councillors, she claimed that unnecessary legal bills would have wasted taxpayers' money. Mr. Cliche objected that the mayor had presented, without council's knowledge, an invoice from the municipality's law firm for $15,000 to, among other things, serve a formal notice to the Commission municipale du Québec, following his summons by the latter. He will assert that this formal demand constituted an obstacle to the investigation of a competent authority. (So it's not just roads that siphon off the municipal treasury...) The "four" voted against; the mayor abstained. The resolution was defeated; and the bills will be paid.

Then, Councillor Suzanne Paradis questioned (item 5.5) a citizen's request for reimbursement of more than $1,000 for the installation of a pump in Lake Saint-François-Xavier, for his water supply. The contract with the municipality specified instead that it was for the drilling of an artesian well. Mr. Paradis and Mr. Zgodzinski replied by indicating that there had been an error on the part of the municipality; that Mrs. Paradis had not mentioned anything about her reservations at the preparatory meeting and that this should have been presented long before. Councillor Cliche agreed with Ms. Paradis' argument and the Mayor proposed to postpone the resolution, which became a successful proposal.

In 5.9, the resolution allowed the Director General to choose between a sanitized air conditioning and air purification system, including a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, for Laurel Cultural and Community Centre; Covid obliges. This was as long as the cost of the latter did not exceed ($28,000?), specified Councillor Johnston. If not, she should opt for a simple UV treatment. Was it the same in 5.6, for the Montfort pavilion? (To be verified.)

Recreation, culture and community life

After a list of whereas clauses on its "tourist parking lots", the resolution presented by Councillor Zgodzinski led the municipality to ask the MRC to close two of the four parking lots in Montfort, to protect its residents from the risk of seeing the pandemic spread by the many visitors. The mayor, although claiming some exaggeration in the preamble, said he agreed with the resolution. It was adopted.

New business

Councillor Paradis came back against authorized expenses, this time for snow removal contracts. Mr. Johnston opposed various arguments to her, but we could not understand the thread of the debates.

Question period

A citizen has a question about the arrival of fibre optics by Cogeco. The mayor replied that Bell and Cogeco are doing work and that good news is on the horizon for Cogeco. Mr. Johnston still talks about a delay to be expected.

Ms. Danielle Desjardins asked to respond to Councillor Suzanne Paradis' comments about her, made during the question period of the December 18 session, which had nailed her to the pillory. They were accusations of attacks against the Director General for the delay in the preparation of the financial statements. She went through Mrs. Paradis' insinuations and accusations point by point, explaining what must have happened in this regard. Among other things, she points out that the municipality's organizational chart allows her to identify serious shortcomings in the administration, which may explain part of the problem. She stated that she never blamed Ms. Matteau. Ms. Paradis will settle for a smile.

The mayor will move on to the next question, without commenting on Ms. Desjardins' assertions. It is precisely a request about the date of the budget presentation.

Mrs. Desjardins takes the floor again on the resolution adopted on the requested closure of two parking lots in Montfort. The mayor explained that the objective is to reduce traffic in the village. Mr. Zgodzinski noted that he did not exaggerate when describing the situation.

Note: This is subject to change; pending the Zoom version and the minutes.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) & Linguee.

By Carl Chapdelaine

Wentworth-Nord-les-Lacs

Presentation

There are 105 lakes in Wentworth-Nord. The owners around these lakes are mostly cottagers, who are the main economic contributors to the municipality's economy.1

Such a number of lakes over such a large territory, for a number of residents slightly less than 5,000, implies a disproportionate environmental responsibility for the municipality. As the development of the territory should be mainly centered on a growing number of vacationers, always in search of nature and especially lakes, the pressure on the latter will only increase. But does the municipality have the intention and the means to govern the establishment of an ever denser habitat around its lakes?

It looks like urban planning rules and environmental standards are seen by the authorities as guaranteeing the necessary protection of this lake environment. However, biologists, limnologists and others have tried to develop models that tend to define the carrying capacity of a body of water by adding variables that these rules and standards do not necessarily take into account.2,3,4

Biologists believe that phosphorus input, natural or anthropogenic, from a lake's watershed is the main cause of lake eutrophication, and wastewater discharge standards address this problem. For others, the use of municipal infrastructure (e.g., access roads, riprap ditches, sedimentation ponds), potential nuisances to the neighbourhood (e.g., noise, short-term rentals, influx of water sports enthusiasts), to wildlife (e.g., fish), or other factors also define, in a way, a lake's carrying capacity. Some municipalities, such as the town of Estérel, have broadened their approach to this evaluation, although it is still essentially based on phosphorus input.5 In Saint-Ubalde, the Association des résidents du lac Émeraude has taken an interest in defining the lake's carrying capacity for motorized watercraft.6

Lac à la Croix Resolution7

As was the case for Lac Pelletier, one can, for example, wonder about the subdivision projects that are becoming clearer for Lac à la Croix. This apparently beautiful little body of water, at the head of Lake Saint-François-Xavier and in a still wild environment, is in fact so shallow that one could not even consider allowing the slightest motorized boat traffic on it. Pejoratively referred to by long-time residents of the area, it has apparently suffered from log driving, as has Lake Saint-François-Xavier. Its current water level, as in Lake Thurston, would only be the result of beaver work. Without their contribution, it will probably require the construction of dikes or dams to maintain it as it is. Armies of deer flies swarm here in season; will we have to find a way to exterminate them so that newcomers will not have to regret their choice? In fact, with its opening to construction, the clearing of the surrounding forest will radically change the Lake's environment and eliminate all wilderness. As a precaution for the Lake itself and for the Lake of which it is tributary, should we not have zoned its environment as green space; or classify it in a more restrictive sub-category of living space?

Lac à la Croix was included in District 5, as it was part of the Lake St. Francois-Xavier watershed and the watershed line between the Red River basin and the Rivière du Nord basin at its head. Socio-economically, however, the lake is more closely linked to District 6, on the other side of the line, as it is part of the "Lac St-Victor Estates". Its exploitation is dictated by Phase 5 of the development of these estates.8 The clearing of its shores is well under way. Road access is only possible via the private Berges-du-Nord road that borders the north side of Lake Saint-Victor. On the other hand, when this road and the one that runs along Lac à la Croix to the head of Lac Saint-François-Xavier become public, shouldn't we expect that they will open up the residents who live there?9 *

The resolution requesting a zoning amendment for an area surrounding Lac à la Croix was presented at the regular council meeting of Wentworth-Nord on December 18th by Councillor Eric Johnston. However, it had been postponed to a future meeting to allow a consultation with the residents concerned by the Planning and Environment Services, under the direction of Mr. Benoit Cadieux. Among other things, it was to authorize the modification of the size of the lots. The developer will explain how he sees the construction of family residences on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a type of property with large adjoining common lots. It is unclear whether we are talking about a few dozen houses or more; and whether long-term rentals will be eligible.

Announced on December 18, this consultation took place on January 6; unfortunately, it was not on our agenda. About ten citizens from Lake Notre-Dame, and perhaps as many from Lake St. Victor participated, including Councillor Eric Johnston and another member of the Planning Committee. Few or no Lake St. Francois-Xavier residents would have been seen there.

Owners of luxury residences at Lake St. Victor, who were promised an environment suitable for their investment, would be concerned about what the developer's announced projects would mean to their neighbourhood. Were there to be build lower-value homes that would diminish the value of their own? As for those on Lake Notre-Dame, it was the forced passage of trucks on Notre-Dame Nord Road, known with other phases of the development of the Estates, that was most worrisome. But the director was also asked if the environmental impact of the projects that would result from these authorizations had been properly analyzed. It was also put forward that a referendum be held prior to the adoption of such a resolution.

Conclusion

In order to be better able to evaluate development projects that target one or the other of its lakes, shouldn't the municipality, via the MRC des Pays-d'en-Haut and institutions such as the Conseil régional de l'environnement des Laurentides (CRE), Abrinord, the Interuniversity research group in limnology and aquatic environments (GRIL), or the Ministry of l’Environnement et la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, seek to obtain a protocol or guide that integrates the various calculations of the carrying capacity of a lake, or recommendations, adding them to the urban planning rules and environmental standards in effect?

It is not within our competence to evaluate the relevance of developing habitat around a particular lake or to judge the intentions of its promoters; but we would be reassured to see a competent authority pronounce on the environmental impact of any similar project to allow an informed choice on the part of our municipal officials. The sad environmental disasters that have occurred, until recently, in Lake Saint-François-Xavier, and that continue to affect its health, do they not justify our distrust?

* The maintenance and municipalization of private roads, or the prohibition of building new ones, seems to have been the subject of discussions and resolutions in many municipal administrations: Chertsey, Saguenay, Orford, Wentworth-Nord, etc... Between theory and practice, or feasibility, there is however a whole world here and a division of responsibilities that is difficult to determine.

Note: Thank you to Ms. Danielle Desjardins for sharing her notes on this consultation.

  1. Plan d'urbanisme de Wentworth-Nord
  2. The carrying capacity of a lake
  3. Ville d'Estérel
  4. Capacité portante du lac Émeraude
  5. Mémoire de maîtrise de Mélissa Laniel
  6. La modélisation de la capacité de support des lacs au Québec
  7. Projet de règlement 2017-498-7
  8. https://www.lacstvictor.com/terrains-disponibles/
  9. The Lake à la Croix road

By Carl Chapdelaine

District Committee? 

November 7, 2021 will, with few exceptions, be Election Day for all municipalities in Quebec. By dropping off your vote in the ballot box or by handing it in the mail, you will sign, in the Pays-d'en-Haut, a four-year contract with a prefect, a mayor and a councillor. Will you wait until you arrive on that date to find out if your choice is well-founded? If there is a choice... Go back to the last election; did you make the right choice to wear your colors? Did your elected officials, for all their good will, show themselves to be the faithful representatives of all voters or were they more inclined to favour those who brought them to Council?

Shouldn't it also be clear what you expect them to do after November 7 before you sign the contract? More importantly, what can they deliver on what they promised you? You should therefore try to get to know better those to whom you are going to entrust the reins of administration, and their agenda. Get to know them as soon as possible. Unless that, for you, their past is a guarantee of their future.

How about a game changer? Rather than blindly deferring to our future elected officials for a four-year term, wouldn't we be better off demanding some involvement in their administration of our affairs through the formation of district committees or councils* dedicated to this task?1 Participatory democracy is a relatively new value in our country, even though it was practiced by the Greeks and Romans in ancient times. However, we should not wait until elected officials are already in control of the process before demanding it, because they might see it as a way to limit their power and alter their vision of the future of the municipality rather than as a means of gaining valuable cooperation.

Ideally, one can imagine that, in such committees, "the participants, although having different, even opposing positions, are willing to listen to each other's arguments in order to reach an agreement taken with reason and accuracy, i.e. with full knowledge of the facts. ... The realization of this deliberative process is achieved through the quality of the discussion, guaranteed by institutional arrangements set up in the spirit of greater participation by all".2

Perhaps we should not be thinking here of creating any kind of independent sector or ad-hoc committee, bringing together a group of residents dedicated to the defence of a particular cause. Indeed, the formula, even if it has become an institution in Quebec City, as with the Citizens' Committee of Old Quebec, still seems too avant-garde for the conception of the administration that we find here. Moreover, it can too easily lead to the contestation of the legitimate power of elected officials.

There are perhaps more appropriate models. They offer instead collaboration with the administration; when they are not derived from it. They are committees or councils that are more or less integrated into the municipal structure. They are subject to rules enacted by higher authorities. As they can be institutionalized, they take advantage of the means made available to them by the municipality. Elected officials may be part of these committees, as is the case with the municipal advisory committees that we are familiar with. In order to have an "informed" discussion, we would expect them to be able to call on the management of the various municipal departments if necessary.

Citizens' committees or councils, as a true level in the municipal structure in Quebec, are rare, but they do exist in the form of neighbourhood councils. To our knowledge, they only have the power to consult. But, even when very limited, this power must bring a greater involvement of the citizen in municipal life. While imposing a certain constraint, at least morally, on elected officials in their decision-making, it can enable them to better guide decisions and facilitate their acceptance. And since Quebec has committed, through Bill 122 adopted on June 15, 2017, to giving more responsibility to the municipal level and, among other things, to "strengthen citizen participation in local decision-making,"3 it is to be hoped that the formula will have a future.

"In order to allow the population to express its views outside of election periods, some cities have innovated by creating neighborhood councils.4 In the case of the City of La Tuque (population 11,000 in a territory of 28,295 km2, larger than the Laurentian administrative region and divided into seven sectors), the city council must form a neighbourhood council upon request by a minimum number of residents. It is then composed of at least one elected member of City Council and representatives of the neighbourhood.5 The latter are appointed by City Council from among its residents.4

While in Quebec the members of neighbourhood councils are appointed by the city council, in France the members of citizens' councils can be chosen on a purely voluntary basis, depending on the number of seats available, as in Lorient6, by vote or by drawing lots after a call for candidates, and even before a bailiff, as in Saint-Martin (French West Indies).7 Such a draw ensures the independence of this body.

Even if one speaks of co-construction, the citizens' councils of France seem to us, however, as in Quebec, to have, at the limit, only an advisory power.8 There is therefore no question of parallel power. The only breakthrough leading to direct citizen participation in the Quebec municipal administration would be the referendum approval required by the Act respecting land use planning and development (LAU), of which we have seen a few examples in Wentworth-Nord. Since 2018, municipalities may replace this provision, which is seen as negative, by developing a "public participation policy ... in accordance with the requirements of the Regulation respecting public participation in land use planning and development ".9 The latter is intended to be more constructive; in other words, to be located upstream of the decision-making process, rather than downstream.

In a large city, you can't easily get a significant proportion of the population to participate on such committees. However, it seems more likely in a small municipality like Wentworth-Nord. Here, in an area where a large proportion of residents, both permanent and temporary, are clustered around the many lakes in the area, lake associations have been able to act as the voice of their community. In villages such as Montfort, Laurel or Saint-Michel, however, these associations cannot adequately represent all their residents; hence the interest, perhaps, in including them in district committees.

Couldn't the Orphan Lands Advisory Committee have become one? Anything to counter the cacophony of e-mail chains or bogus surveys for information and consultation, and the inconsistency of some of the decisions made in recent years? Ms. Diane Théorêt, candidate for mayor of Wentworth-Nord in 2017, promised to introduce "participatory democracy"; while the candidate for the position of councillor for District 6, Ms. Danielle Desjardins, specified the establishment of a "District Council with a budget and including sectors 5 and 6 of Montfort "10 + 11.

Such committees therefore enjoy a legislative framework already developed in the charters of certain cities. This framework specifies certain modalities of their constitution and functioning. It thus ensures that they are representative of their environment, etc. In our opinion, it would be important, contrary to the rule in the current municipal committees, that each citizen be able to participate in one way or another as he or she wishes.

In conclusion, if you aspire to be more systematically informed, consulted, and even involved, even after the delegation of power that you will have granted to your elected officials on the day of the vote, should you not first require them to plan to allow the establishment of district committees or other measures for citizen participation in local decision-making the day after they take office?

*One could argue at length about their distinction. Let's say that the council has greater authority and stature; that it is often the organ of an administration. The committee may be, among other things, a simple delegation of the council; or it may represent a group of individuals dedicated to a cause; etc. https://pediaa.com/what-is-the-difference-between-council-and-committee/#Council

By Carl Chapdelaine

  1. https://www.equiterre.org/fiche/comment-creer-un-comite-citoyens-ou-de-quartier
  2. https://books.openedition.org/pum/19206?lang=en
  3. https://www.mamh.gouv.qc.ca/organisation-municipale/democratie-municipale/participation-des-citoyens/
  4. https://www.mamh.gouv.qc.ca/amenagement-du-territoire/guide-la-prise-de-decision-en-urbanisme/acteurs-et-processus/conseil-de-quartier-et-comite-local/
  5. https://www.ville.latuque.qc.ca/fr/vivre-a-la-tuque/membres-du-conseil
  6. https://www.lorient.bzh/fileadmin/lorient.bzh/territoires/Quartiers/Conseils_citoyens/charte_des_conseils_citoyens.pdf
  7. http://www.lepelican-journal.com/saint-martin/societe/Nomination-des-membres-des-conseils-de-quartier-16206.html
  8. https://www.villesetterritoireslr.fr/site2015/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Doc-Charte-type.pdf
  9. https://www.mamh.gouv.qc.ca/amenagement-du-territoire/guide-la-prise-de-decision-en-urbanisme/acteurs-et-processus/reglement-sur-la-participation-publique-en-matiere-damenagement-et-durbanisme/
  10. Mrs. Diane Théorêt. candidate for mayor
  11. Mrs. Danielle Desjardins, candidate for district 6
  12. Municipal democracy
  13. Participatory democracy