The Town delivered its final arguments in favour of the Vieux-Verger project last night
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More than 100 people attended or followed online the second public meeting held by the City on Wednesday evening to convince citizens of the merits of the proposed acquisition of the Vieux-Verger land. Director general Pascal Smith and Mayor Robert Benoît presented all of their arguments on behalf of the Town, and gave the expected answers to the questions asked at the end of the first meeting on April 12, and in addition to the Frequently Asked Questions -FAQs already posted online.
A demonstration of the project’s legitimacy
In providing full transparency on the financial, technical and conceptual information on the project, the Town also explained that it was not materially possible to answer certain practical questions until the acquisition was made: we will not, for example, launch a new environmental study until we own the land. However, we already know that the land is of great ecological interest. That is why the Town has clearly stated its intention to protect over 70% of the land as a nature reserve in perpetuity, for the benefit of future generations. We owe it to ourselves to preserve such a beautiful green space for the future!
The building portion of the land will therefore represent less than 30% of the land, as presented at the first public meeting on April 12. Traffic will be extremely controlled and there will be no road exits to the Domaine Mont-Louis. Access will be limited to emergency interventions only and to pedestrian and bicycle crossings.
The most important aspect of the discussions with citizens was, of course, the $1.5 million investment that the Town wishes to borrow in order to acquire the Vieux-Verger. It was demonstrated that the financial risk for the Town is minimal, if not non-existent, since this amount will have to be repaid by the buyer(s)/developer(s) who will build housing when the land is resold. As well, they will have to pay for the infrastructure costs (road, water, sewer) estimated at $2 million, whether it is done before or after the land is resold. As explained in slides 41 and 42 of last night’s presentation, the amount to be paid by taxpayers to finance this $1.5M loan represents only $6.70 per $100,000 of property value: if your property is worth $468,000 (average value in Sutton in 2023), the amount to be paid per year will be ($6.70 x 4.68 =) $31.36 for 25 years, or ($31.36 x 25 =) $784 in 25 years! This amount pales in comparison to the benefits of acquiring a piece of land that offers our community the best current opportunity to realize an ambitious affordable housing project, structuring the community and protecting an ecological heritage for future generations.
As expert speakers in the room have stated, there are business models in Quebec that would ensure housing affordability: the Town has committed to forming a joint committee of informed citizens and Town staff to study these models and find the best way to bring this project to fruition in keeping with Council’s vision and the community’s aspirations to provide more affordable housing for young families and local workers in particular.
Please be aware that signing the register means that you are
against the loan application and, therefore, against the project itself,
since this opportunity will probably never arise again.
“Family accessibility, the ecological impact of construction, and the aging population are examples of sustainability issues to be considered in defining development projects to be brought to market. If the municipality does not intervene in the market, it is not the ‘free market’ that will provide this responsibility.” [free translation]
(MRC Brome-Missisquoi, Boite à outils sur l’habitation pour des milieux de vie dynamiques et innovants, 2020)
What happens next?
As required by law, a register will be opened this Saturday, April 29, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., in the Council Room of Town Hall, to allow those who sign it to demonstrate their opposition to Borrowing By-law No. 323 allowing the acquisition of the Vieux-Verger property.
The results of the register will be announced that evening on the Town’s website and Facebook page and by newsletter on Sunday, April 30. After that, Council will have to decide what to do with the project at the next City Council meeting on May 3, 2023.
- If the required 492 signatures are reached, Town Council will have to decide on May 3 whether to abandon the project as a whole or to hold a referendum that will allow the entire population to vote on the Borrowing By-law, and therefore on whether or not to accept the acquisition of the land. If this is the case, the date of the referendum will be announced at the May 3 Council meeting. The Town will also need to verify with the sellers of the land whether they are willing to wait for the referendum or whether they wish to release the land for sale on the open market.
- If fewer than 492 signatures are collected through the registry, the by-law process can legally proceed. It should be noted that Council would still have the option to withdraw at this point depending on its assessment of the results of the registry.
Come to the next Town Council meeting on May 3!
We invite you to attend or listen to the next City Council meeting, on May 3, 2023, which will seal the fate of the Vieux-Verger project. This meeting will be preceded, at 7 p.m., by the awarding of a new certification for the Town: the Blue Community certification, which underlines the Municipality’s commitment to the cause of water (information to come)! Another great recognition of the Town of Sutton’s ecological goals!
Link to listen to the video recording of the 1st public meeting of April 12, 2023
Link to listen to the video recording of the 2nd public meeting of April 26, 2023
Link to see the Q&A presentation – public meeting of April 26, 2023