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Why Create Such a Committee?

30 novembre 2010

For Our Quality of Life …

The municipal government of Brownsburg-Chatham is now a year old. Elected on the basis of a more fluid communication with citizens and a better management, the result is rather negative on both counts. Up until now, the mayor and the councillors have taken many questionable decisions to say the least. Information, when it exists, has never been more nebulous. Rather than proposing concrete solutions and original projects, they have simply demolished and criticized previous administration’s actions. When will the current council reveal to the people his vision for the future of Brownsburg-Chatham? We need a comprehensive development program with a known timeline.

Alarmed by the deteriorating situation, a group of citizens met to found the Citizens Action Committee of Brownsburg-Chatham (CAC of BC). Together with the population, the Committee intends to imagine and propose ways to ensure the future of the municipality. Such a committee should have existed at the time of the last council, it should exist as of now and will keep on existing in the future.

A Year After the Election – A Time for Evaluation

An Improvised Cleanup

The day after his election, under the pretext of saving money and getting rid of staff deemed incompetent, the board conducted a dismantling of the administration:

1.elimination of the information officer position;

2.firing of the municipal campsite Manager, Mr. François Bertrand;

3.licencing of the city’s Managing Director, Mr. Jean Vachon;

4.forced departure of Mr. Robert Brunet of tourism development and recreation;

5.replacement of the city’s legal firm;

6. firing of one of the three librarians.

This big sweep resulted in a loss of skills and knowledge essential to maintaining adequate services. But among the most immediate consequences is the decreased motivation of the people left behind, leading up to the resignation of two of them: the responsible for economic development and the public works director. The latter has left the ship while extensive work was underway in the municipality. Those many departures have resulted in exorbitant costs in severance pay. And wage increases … For example, Mr. Bertrand, responsible for the city’s campground, was dismissed with compensation and subsequently re-employed with a substantial increase when we had to admit his invaluable contribution. Even worse and more blatant example of poor human resource management by the current administration: The departure of the new General Manager and Treasurer, Mr. René Lachance, whom had just completed his probation period. What are the real reasons for his leaving the city after only six months?

Decide Everything, Control Everything

The lack of motivation is also behind the departure of Pierre Gagnon, a volunteer, Chairman of the Société de développement économique of Brownsburg-Chatham (SDEBC). At the council meeting last November, Mayor Dinel publicly challenged the management by the SDEBC, qualifying it with a touch of disdain the « famous Economic Development Corporation, » while the latter is responsible for the revitalization of the commercial buildings downtown and the public market. The mayor questions the very existence of the corporation, claiming it is for elected officials to do the work to ensure democracy. Is this desire to centralize power in the hands of the board progress when, to date, it has failed to propose an overall vision for the future of the municipality?

The council proceeded to dismantle the Société de développement touristique, despite a reputation for excellence and increased revenues from the municipal campsite.

The administration has almost systematically ignored recommendations of the Planning Advisory Board (of which Louise Bertrand and Michel Brisson have been cavalierly expelled) for multiple zoning changes.

In addition, it reduced funding for the Société culturelle du Pavillons des jardins. Its chairman, Maurice Rochon, even received a mise en demeure for criticizing the unfulfilled promise of funding.

Doesn’t this attitude of the council betray a sovereign contempt for the work of volunteers whose sole purpose is to improve the quality of life for their fellow citizens?

To silence the grumbling about the relocation of the library, the mayor has created a library committee that will likely result in a year. The project dragged on, whereas it is shown that a library has significant economic impacts as it increases the traffic for nearby businesses. Knowing the rate of illiteracy that plagues the region of the Lower Laurentians, it has been irresponsible to freeze the budget to purchase books as did the board last spring. Many municipalities are knocking at the doors of the Ministry of Culture in order to obtain funding for their library. The end of the program originally scheduled for 2013 will be accelerated because the funds will be exhausted soon. Will we miss our turn due to inertia? Let us remember that culture is part of the mission of a municipality. Many small and large communities in the Laurentians have long understood it and direct much of their efforts towards cultural development. What about Brownsburg-Chatham?

 

What vision?

Since his election, when asked the question about the future of Brownsburg-Chatham, the Mayor replied invariably: Hockey School. But the project begins to look like a myth, the dressing to create the illusion of a development vision. For how much longer will the mayor dare repeat: « We will give you an answer next month”?

Add to that the slow revitalization of downtown shops because the owners failed to meet deadlines to complete their applications and you’ll get a glimpse of the slippery slope on which the municipality is engaged.

This slow slide towards mediocrity is more visible as the last few months have been particularly challenging for residents. They had to undergo major disadvantages due to the extensive restoration of aqueducts and sewers. These infrastructure works were necessary. But their lack of coordination not only demonstrates a profound indifference towards the merchants of Principale Street but also and especially a blatant absence of conciousness of the citizens’ security. Handwritten signage for detours on pieces of board brings us back decades. Can we invoke the lack of money when public safety is at stake?

In addition, the Veterans Park was found defaced with a gaping hole. It is against this sad backdrop that people have come to pay tribute to veterans on November 11, the only green space downtown.

With the holidays approaching, one year after the election, the downtown Brownsburg-Chatham offers its residents a mutilated face. Worse, a wave of sadness swept over the city which gives people the impression of living in a disaster area. Formerly with pretty flower borders during the summer, the center of Brownsburg-Chatham had a welcoming air. Today, instead of flowers, there are piles of earth and stones deposited here and there, due to the work undertaken without logic or apparent control.

And What Now?

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