Saint-La­zare to an­nex Base de Plein Air des Cèdres

No ma­jor changes ex­pec­ted first year

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

Saint-La­zare will soon take over ope­ra­tions at Base de Plein Air des Cèdres in a move that will see the popular out­door camp and re­crea­tion fa­ci­li­ty an­nexed to SaintLa­zare by May 1, 2014.

On Wed­nes­day, Saint-La­zare Mayor Ro­bert Gri­mau­do and Les Cèdres Mayor Ray­mond Larouche si­gned an agree­ment al­lo­wing them to be­gin the an­nexa­tion pro­cess.

“The aim of this... is to en­able Les Cèdres to re­duce the tax bur­den on its 6,500 re­si­dents and en­able Saint-La­zare to take over the ad­mi­nis­tra­tion and ope­ra­tions of the re­crea­tio­nal centre...,” Gri­mau­do said in a sta­te­ment.

Saint-La­zare has a po­pu­la­tion of over 20,000 re­si­dents.

In wor­king to­ge­ther, both towns hope to en­sure that the centre will re­main open to fu­ture ge­ne­ra­tions.

Saint-La­zare and Les Cèdres have been ham­me­ring out the de­tails on what has been cal­led a trans­parent tran­si­tion since De­cem­ber. Both towns say they want to en­sure that Base de Plein Air des Cèdres em­ployees will not be pe­na­li­zed by the move.

For his part, Gri­mau­do ack­now­led­ged that the trans­fer will be “met with mixed emo­tions,” ad­ding, “Some will feel a sense of loss, while others will see it as a ne­ces­sa­ry com­pro­mise. In eve­ry case, we want to reas­sure eve­ryone that this han­ding over must be cause for hope, not for concern.”

Poin­ting to Saint-La­zare’s re­cord for cham­pio­ning “en­vi­ron­men­tal, hu­man and fa­mi­ly va­lues,” Gri­mau­do cal­led the an­nexa­tion “the so­lu­tion for the sur­vi­val of the centre.”

The Base de Plein Air is si­tua­ted wi­thin the La Pi­nière fo­rest. Most of the fo­rest res­ts in Saint-La­zare, while a por­tion of it is lo­ca­ted in the town of Saint-Clet.

This week’s an­noun­ced land trans­fer is consi­de­red the next step in in­cor­po­ra­ting Base de Plein Air in­to La Pi­nière, which has an ex­ten­sive and es­ta­bli­shed hi­king, hor­se­back ri­ding and cross coun­try ski trail net­work.

The Base de Plein Air des Cèdres has of­fe­red year-round ac­ti­vi­ties such as cross­coun­try skiing, snow­shoeing, snow tu­bing, ska­ting, hi­king, swim­ming, trek­king and ar­che­ry. If in­cor­po­ra­ted in­to La Pi­nière, the centre’s of­fe­rings are ex­pec­ted to grow.

Long his­to­ry

In 1999, the town of Les Cèdres as­su­med res­pon­si­bi­li­ty for Base de Plein Air when the centre was trans­fer­red to them by a non­pro­fit or­ga­ni­za­tion for $1.

Prior to that, Base de Plein Air des Cèdres, which was ori­gi­nal­ly known as the Centre de plein air Les Fo­res­tiers when it was crea­ted in the 1970s, was al­so ow­ned by the Com­mis­sion sco­laire ré­gio­nale de Vau­dreuil-Sou­langes. The non-pro­fit or­ga­ni­za­tion ran it be­fore trans­fer­ring it to Les Cèdres.

Ac­cor­ding to Larouche, the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty can’t af­ford to keep run­ning the centre.

“All our ef­forts and work have not al­lo­wed Les Cèdres to eli­mi­nate the de­fi­cit our ci­ti­zens must as­sume eve­ry year. We sim­ply do not have the re­sources or the fi­nan­cial means to keep the centre,” he said, ad­ding, he has faith that Saint-La­zare will run the centre well.

“My Coun­cil and I are convin­ced that the Ci­ty of Saint-La­zare is equip­ped to en­sure the centre’s fu­ture, consi­de­ring they have 20,000 re­si­dents and much more re­sources than we do.”

No ma­jor changes will be plan­ned for the first year, Gri­mau­do said, while Larouche no­ted that Les Cèdres re­si­dents will still be able to en­joy the centre wi­thout ha­ving to pay to main­tain it.

“That’s the good news.”

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