Dear Mayor, Council, Citizens and Friends of North Hatley

In the fall of 2014, shortly after the public presentation of the original maquettes, plans and illustrations of the development project proposed for the flood plain area in the Village of North Hatley, Friends Amis North Hatley (FANHCA) created a website in order to provide a forum for persons to express their ideas, opinions, and concerns about the project. FANHCA recognized the need for planned growth in the village but wanted to ensure that the project was reasonably scaled and architecturally appropriate.

The first post by FANHCA was a petition, 130, trois et beau, formulated by a team of resident professionals—all North Hatley property owners—who carefully analyzed the available land, the architectural vocabulary and the viability of a development project in that zone. Over 350 people, both citizens and neighbours with an interest in the village, signed, calling for a development project of one hundred and thirty units instead of two hundred and thirty, three storeys instead of five, and architecture suited to one of Quebec’s most beautiful villages.

Over the past thirty months, numerous citizens have availed themselves of the FANHCA website, be they property owners, merchants, or resident professionals sharing expertise in fields related to such a project. However, now, thirty months later, based on a Plan de Gestion, a ruling by the MRC de Memphrémagog on the Plan de Gestion, a reversal from Quebec and further public hearings at the MRC de Memphrémagog, it seems that the proposal on the table is the same development project whose size has only been marginally reduced. The word ‘tendentious’ has been used to describe the process.

When resident professionals speak, they speak with care, with experience and with concern. They have written to the Mayor, to Council and to the media. They formulated the petition to express their collective concern to the citizens but the councillors and Mayor have chosen to ignore our citizens who wish only to help define the personality, appearance and long-term viability of our village. Requests to include public dialogue in the process of defining a vision for our village fall, it would seem, on the deaf ears of the Mayor and Council.

One would want to know that council has done due diligence in assessing all factors to ensure an appropriate and successful development project in our village. Citizens should be assured by Council that North Hatley will remain the beautiful, attractive place that hundreds of residents and thousands of visitors find it today.

FANHCA feels that the time has come to invite our elected representatives to sit down with the experts and professionals that have already taken the time to examine the project, to come up with a creative solution which takes into account not only the limits which we face in developing the centre of town but also the beauty of the natural surroundings.

We must engage the artistic talents of our local residents, continuing the example of the visionary 2016 exhibition, “Dreaming North Hatley”, produced by one of our resident professionals. We must find a solution that respects the ideas of our residents that is at once inclusive, diverse and realistic, a solution that aims to bring people to North Hatley to partake in its charm and local activities, a solution that does not put us at risk in the future.

Let us share our vision, our dreams and our concerns. Let us begin the dialogue.

Brian Merrett

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