Pine Lake, Sandy Beach, the Viviry river and all the marvellous forests, fields and landscapes of Hudson remind us of how lucky we are to be aging in this place. Hudson is abundant with natural assets. They are part of the character of our town. How will we plan going forward to ensure that they always form a part of our town? I'd like to share some of my experience with you as a landscape architect to walk you through how we can envision Hudson's parks and green spaces.
Photo of Pine Lake as it was by Irit Deutsch
One of my mentors, Patrick Condon, used to say: "The site is to region as the cell is to the body; just as the health of the individual human cell has everything to do with the health of the human body, so too does the ecological function of the individual site have everything to do with the ecological health of the region."
The most important regional environmental system is the watershed.
The Viviry River is a vein in this system that snakes its way through the heart of Hudson from the uplands south of the 342 down to Pine Lake on through to the Sandy beach nature park. It's such a glorious asset for the town. Montreal used to have hundreds of rivers. They have all been piped underground and their greenspaces destroyed by urbanization. We can't let that happen in Hudson. Our natural areas provide an essential connection between nature and citizens.
The watershed is natural infrastructure. If cared for properly, it cleans our water and sustains life and biodiversity.
It is possible for this natural infrastructure and urban development to co-exist. We can link natural areas and parks to provide a green network in Hudson, linking neighbourhoods with each other and creating places of rest and repose.
Like Pine Lake.
Lots of people have inquired during the campaign about Pine Lake's future and Sandy Beach's future. I've spoken at length on the latter but not about Pine Lake in depth.
The missing component, as I mentioned at the debate, is that I haven't seen the correspondence between the town of Hudson and the province of Quebec. So I can't have a full picture of where the project is at until I see that. The outgoing council said that Pine Lake was now considered a wetland and subject to the laws and regulations surrounding that designation. I believe them. I think if they had been able to fix Pine Lake, they would have.
Lakers know that there was an agreement signed in 1984 that required the town fulfill certain obligations. They also have seen their property values decrease due to the broken dam.
We need a solution. Fast. People have waited long enough.
When I talked to the lakers back in springtime, one of them was an engineer and he floated the idea of getting academic partners on board. I'm familiar with this. In my last year in British Columbia I co-taught the Landscape Architecture graduate thesis course at the school of architecture and landscape architecture. I directed students through their final projects. They worked in concert with the public body on real world projects to propose solutions to particular landscape problems and often ended up providing the finished plans for final detail work to a firm with signing authority.
There's no reason we couldn't do the same for Pine Lake.
I would approach McGill, Concordia and University of Montreal to structure a 14 week course around solving the problem of Pine Lake and the Viviry River. A professor with signing authority could guide students towards a finished concept. We could attract a finishing student to take on the project in depth and do an internship with our urban planning and parks department. There are many possibilities to arrive at a solution.
Once done, citizens will be able to to see what the finished lake will look like. The design and consulting fees will be out of the way, leaving only the contracting costs.
But it will all hinge on seeing the correspondance between the town and the province.
Some lakers were worried because of my past association with sentiers Vaudreuil-Soulanges that I would propose trails that would infringe on their properties or onto Pine Lake itself. Let me be clear, I have no such proposals. I would prefer to have a safe walking space along Cameron from Mount Pleasant to Wellesley so that pedestrians can feel safe along Cameron. Pine Lake would be a place of rest for a hiker walking from Mount Pleasant to the Taylor Bradbury trail-not a thoroughfare.
I've made my priorities clear: get our finances in order, fix the infrastructure and provide good governance. Providing a green network of natural areas and parks are part of all three. The better we manage stormwater runoff the more we will save on roads in long term maintenance costs. Natural infrastructure plays a big role in doing this. Citizens love their natural areas, its one of the things that brought many of them to Hudson in the first place.
My background and training in landscape architecture and urban planning give me a different lens than the typical leader. I studied the art of making good places for people to live in.
We can do this, Hudson. There's so much talent and expertise in this town to lend a hand. We're going to build a great village.