To build a good town, we need to plan properly
When I first left Hudson in 1989 I thought, as many teens do, that our town would never change. As the years passed and I returned to see family and friends I began to see the elements of what make Hudson unique: a small waterfront town with strong social bonds. My teen self was wrong. Hudson did change - it changed in ways many of us wouldn't have imagined 30 years ago. What will Hudson look like in the next 30-50 years? The strategic plan was a good start to thinking about these issues and the concept of a town where the arts meet nature is a good one. However, for a clearer picture of where Hudson should go - a true master plan is required. We need a plan of the physical layout of the town and we need transparency on how we will accommodate growth that will sustain Hudson. A Nicholls administration will get us there.
A charette in action. After a concentrated work period, usually lasting a week, a master plan is developed.
Experience in urban planning and forecasting
I have experience with master planning towns through a process known as a charette. My graduate work involved working with various stakeholders to get to desired outcomes. At the 2005 World Urban Forum, I helped to organize a charette that would plan future growth (additional population of 2 million projected) for a metropolitan region from 2005-2055. Hudson obviously doesn't need to grow that much - but the exercise proved how a city that is already built can accommodate more people while maintaining its character and vitality.
Imagine getting to a place where we can agree on how growth should occur? We can do this. A Nicholls administration will involve citizens in the planning process from day one. We'll take action on getting projects green-lighted while making sure that they preserve Hudson's unique character.
But what is Hudson's unique character?
First and foremost, we are one of the region's only towns that has a vibrant village core. Surely, the village can use more love and care to make it shine. Secondly, we are a waterfront community blessed with great natural assets. We need to protect these and celebrate our waterfront.
Hudson's history was focused on the waterfront because that was where trade occurred. J.B Sabourin, the first occupant of Greenwood, was a fur trader. Many of the first settlers were fur traders as well. The original concessions above Pointe Cavagnal were mostly given to coureurs de bois. Our lands were considered too hilly for cultivation purposes.
The first settlers along the waterfront prior to 1763 (Date of the royal proclamation)
The 1815 Bouchette map showing our area prior to the settlement of the Cote St-Charles concession
British settlement started to gain speed notably when the Cote St-Charles concessions were drawn up in the early nineteenth century. That concession is now mostly in Saint-Lazare (the area known as Saddlebrook, Mon Village, etc.). At the time, the area was linked more to what is now known as Hudson.
The 1854 surrender map. This was the document that formalized property ownership after the abolition of the seigneurial system. The town is divided in long lots which evolved into our present urban form.
The street names that grace our town now - Cameron, McNaughten, Blenkinship, Davidson, Sanderson - are the family names of early British settlers. Each lot in Hudson has a story to tell. This makes up yet another part of the unique character of Hudson.
I've spent half my life studying the history of our area. I started out studying the geological history - why our landforms are shaped the way they are. I studied the ecology of our area. I looked at the settlement patterns, the who, what, why and where of colonial settlement in our area. I studied the rivers. I studied the forests. I care about Hudson's history deeply and want to see it carry its stories into the future for our children and their children.
The 1909 Topographic map of Hudson
Looking at a 1909 map of Hudson this weekend I marvelled that when our village began it was really only 4 streets - Main Road, McNaughten, Cameron and St-Jean. That was just over a 100 years ago. Look how far we've come.
Hudson's Golden Age of growth
The Cadastral (property lines) 1930. Before any significant subdvisions.
The 1937 topo map. The village gets built out. White roads are gravel. Red are wide paved roads. Cote St-Charles is only paved north of the Viviry. Hudson had 4 train stations: Como, Hudson, Hudson Heights, Alstonvale and Choisy. Cameron does not connect to the 342.
We often think of Vaudreuil as being the area for growth in our region but Hudson was first. From the 1930s to the 1970s, Hudson saw an amazing expansion of its village and residential areas. Most of this was greenfield development, a term meaning new developments made on agricultural or natural lands. The law protecting agricultural lands made by the province of Quebec in the 1970s more or less put a halt to this practice.
The village in 1945. All white roads are gravel. Cameron is extended to the "new" highway (the 342/then known as the 17)
Hudson in 1967. Pink areas are considered urban. Fairhaven is not yet on the map.
The village in 1976. The pink indicates that it is considered an urban area. Also Pine Lake is now on the map. The green areas are forests. Fairhaven now exists.
What attracted many of the new residents in the 1960s and 1970s was the fact that the village was nestled in nature. This is something that was oft repeated during the conception of the strategic plan. It is part of Hudson's cachet. It is also a source of Hudsonites not wanting anything to change.
Which brings me back to my first point: whether we want it or not, change occurs. We shouldn't fear change. Having lived here for almost all my life - from 1975 onwards - I can see all the changes that have occurred. Whether it be the slow disintegration of the wharf, the paving of the greenery in front of the Nova gift shop, the building on a forested lot of a French Canadian heritage style house that one of the mayoral candidates now lives in or the many facade changes of the Chateau-du-Lac. I've witnessed the changes first hand. I hold a collective memory.
Hudson's negotiated future with the MRC and CMM. We can and should do better than this.
We can't go back to the Golden Age of Hudson's growth but we need to imagine what comes next. These days infill development is what is needed. Infill development takes already developed land and improves upon it. Pocket neighbourhoods are an interesting development idea - they preserve the streetscape while adding houses to an existing lot. This is just one innovative idea of many in the urban planning toolkit. We don't need to become yet another West Island suburb - we can express Hudson's unique character in our own urban form.
The pocket neighbourhood.(http://pocket-neighborhoods.net/)
I have the experience to lead us in the right direction. On November 5th, please get out and vote. Get your neighbours and friends to do the same. Together we will make our great village even greater.