Ayer’s Cliff council news
An eventful council meeting in Ayer’s Cliff on Monday night included, among other things, a few proud moments for mayor Alec van Zuiden.
First, the mayor and council warmly recognized Public Works Foreman Jim Sharman for his thirty years service to the municipality of Ayer’s Cliff, and presented him with the gift of a watch. Second, mayor van Zuiden noted another impressive distinction for another municipal employee: Mike McKenna, fire chief for both Ayer’s Cliff and North Hatley, had the honour in early September of presiding as master of ceremonies over the unveiling of a new national memorial in Ottawa, dedicated to all the Canadian firefighters who have passed away in the line of duty since 1848.
The Canadian Firefighters Memorial is the fruition of nearly a decade of planning and fundraising, and bears a final price tag of about $5 million, $2 million of which was raised directly by the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation (CFFF), of which Mr. McKenna serves as Second Vice President.
The centrepiece of the memorial is a six-metre statue of a bronze firefighter with its right arm outstretched and pointing to a conceptual map of Canada. On the map, 1,111 names of Canadian fallen firefighters are engraved in granite.
The design work was partly executed by internationally-renowned artist and novelist Douglas Coupland; and the unveiling was inaugurated by Governal General David Johnston.
Not only did Mr. McKenna have the honour of emceeing the event, but his wife, Karen Robinson, sang the national anthem to kick off the ceremony.
Unofficially, the future of the Ayer’s Cliff Fire Department was also discussed at length at Monday Night’s Council meeting.
The possibility of a joint agreement between four municipalities—Hatley, North Hatley, Canton de Hatley and Ayer’s Cliff—to share fire services was informally tabled, but not voted on. No consensus has been reached between any of the municipalities on this point and any vote at this time would be preemptive.
Official business that was voted on included a proposal for some further engineering assessment work on the sidewalks on Maple Street, to the tune of $4,600. Council voted nearly unanimously in favour, save Councillor John Batrie who voted against.
Later in the meeting, Batrie expressed the tongue-incheek opinion that voting for the assessment was like “throwing $4,600 out the window.”
It was also proudly announced by Mayor van Zuiden that compared with last year, crime was down in the municipality by over 50%. There had already been twenty criminal incidents at this time last year; whereas this year there have only been nine. Automobile accidents are also down by a half, and there’s been a 150% increase in the number of speeders pulled over by the SQ, a result of a greater police presence in the municipality.
In a bit of dramatic irony, one of the final orders of business of the evening concerned the case of the municipality of Ayer’s Cliff vs “Cliff” the dog and its owner, resident Monique Duchesneau.
Council voted whether or not to levy a fine against Ms. Duschesneau in relation to a few incidents where Cliff attacked and bit pedestrians and passersby. At first, Mayor van Zuiden cautiously said that these biting incidents had happened “more than once.” Later, it was revealed that there were at least three separate incidents where the dog attacked someone.
France Coloumbe was the only councillor to vote against the motion to levy the fine, arguing that Ms. Duchesneau had already done everything the municipality asked of her to prevent further attacks. To this, the
mayor replied that not all preventitive measures had been taken; for instance, it was suggested to Ms. Duchesneau that the dog might be medicated to render it less dangerous.
Following the meeting, Ms. Coloumbe joked that the vote had really come down to a question of whether or not the other councillors were dog-lovers; to which Councillor Peter McHarg lightheartedly remarked that no, in fact, it was more a question of whether they were peoplelovers.