The mayor of the municipality of Sainte-Julienne in Lanaudière has been violating the regulations of his own city for several years as the owner of a campsite where some 160 residences have been built without any permit.
Worse still, this situation has been known to elected officials and the city administration since the early 2000s when the first works were started.
The investigation report of the municipal integrity investigation and prosecution department of the Commission municipale du Québec, which has just been published, thus splashes Richard Desormiers already at the heart of a storm for a few months.
Mr. Desormiers, who refused to answer our questions, was elected mayor of Sainte-Julienne in 2021 after serving as a municipal councilor since 2013. He is also the owner of the Domaine de la Pride campsite located in the same municipality. .
After citizens noticed tree cutting, they began to ask questions and were able to learn in full municipal council last March that the campsite residences were built without a permit and trees cut without authorization, and this, a forest conservation area in addition. The value of residences ranges from $5,600 to $255,000.
Several residences have nothing to do with a mobile home, as shown by certain photos published in the investigation report.
The Commission municipal du Québec (CMQ) reminds that home and landowners risk fines of up to $5,000 per violation. And for each day that the building is without a permit, it is a new violation. Fines can thus accumulate and the bill is likely to be particularly high. The Superior Court could also order the demolition of the houses.
The CMQ recalls, however, that it is up to the city to impose these fines or to seize the court to stop the construction and have the construction demolished (citizens could also use this last resort).
The report adds that it would be difficult to simply modify the municipal by-law to authorize houses already built, as this would not respect the development plan of the MRC which prohibits residential developments like that of the Domaine de la Pride in a forest area. .
The mayor was aware of his irregular situation, the report states, and he never attempted to comply. Instead, he was content to “demand” that the Municipality find a solution. Cr it is rather up to the taxpayers to ensure compliance with the regulations and a city has no obligation to seek to bring into compliance a residential development already built in a permit, we may ire.
The municipality knew
“The investigation could not demonstrate why, all [the elected officials and the administration] tolerated the situation without asking questions or trying to know the extent of the residential development in progress”, continues the report.
"We seemed satisfied to collect municipal taxes without having to worry about compliance with regulations." A municipal councilor also lives on the campsite.
Communication strategist Jean Polloni, whose firm supports the general management of the city in the management of the file, made it clear that the current general management has been in place since March 2021 and has been aware of the situation since last summer.
“The municipal administration is completing a full report in order to establish a status report, the actions that have been taken by the municipality and its intervention plan in the context of the Domaine de la Pride file. This report will be submitted to the council of the MRC de Montcalm. We will therefore not comment further on the case in this context,” he said.