Turmoil at city hall ends

By Geneviève April

Perhaps it was because of the snow, perhaps citizens have already lost interest in their newly elected city council, but the second meeting of the new civic administration, Dec. 2, was nowhere near as well-attended as those of prior months.

Even the national media, who hitherto crowded the council chamber media pit, were conspicuous by their absence.
The whole meeting wrapped up in under an hour-and-a-half, with very few interventions at question period. Even though they were present for the whole meeting, opposition political parties’ leaders confined themselves to an observer role.

During the adoption of the 2014 city council meeting dates, the audience witnessed a refreshing collaboration between ruling Mouvement lavallois (ML) and opposition members.

Michel Trottier, independent councillor for Fabreville, proposed postponing the March 3, 2014, meeting to the following week, to permit citizens who might be vacationing during spring break to attend. ML Councillor Alain Lecompte immediately seconded the amendment, which was approved unanimously on the spot.

Question period gave Mayor Marc Demers an opportunity to preview to the upcoming budget, which had not yet been made public, the night of the meeting.

“We are looking at what measures we can take [to remain true to our electoral platform] but we often find ourselves stuck with faits accomplice.”

He specified that the 2014 budget will not accomplish all ML’s objectives, because of decisions taken by the preceding administration. Another questioner asked whether Demers would keep his election promise to relax the city’s question period protocol. Citizens currently have to write down and submit their questions in advance, to get a prepared answer.

“We want to introduce a new way of doing business, and foster a new ambiance in a serene climate,” Demers replied. “Yes, we’re reviewing how to go about that.”

Once again, condo projects came up, this time when a citizen asked the city to consider reopening the question of zoning for the Mattawa Street project in Fabreville, calling for round of public consultation to ensure that it will blend harmoniously with the surrounding neighbourhood.

“From now on, every significant project in Laval will be subject to public consultation,” vowed Demers. “As for this particular project, we have loads of files to go through, so unfortunately we’re not there yet.”

Question period, and city council, ended on a comical note, after a citizen approached the mike to ask if Laval police services would consider buying and using Robocops, as in the eponymous 1987 movie. “With the advancement of telerobotic research, there could be patrolbots, giving injured cops new cybermechanical limbs. Will you consider investing in that sort of research during your first mandate?” asked citizen Dennis Poletic.

“While Laval is one of the most technologically advanced police services, Robocops have not been considered, and it’s not in our plans,” Demers answered respectfully, before adding, tongue-in-cheek, “I think we’ll let others test the merchandise before we go there ourselves.”

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