Saint-Lazare to annex Base de Plein Air des Cèdres
No major changes expected first year
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.
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.”