City council pays homage to volunteers

Action Laval raises questions about Vaillancourt’s Florida condo

City council pays homage to volunteers during flood crisis

Martin C. Barry

At the beginning of Laval city council’s monthly meeting on June 6, Mayor Marc Demers paid homage to members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Red Cross, municipal employees and volunteers who all did their part to help provide relief during the recent flooding crisis in Laval.

According to the mayor, nearly 1,200 Laval employees were involved in the flood relief effort.

Flood crisis volunteers

“This evening and with the greatest respect, I wish on behalf of all the citizens of Laval, in the presence of the members of the administration, to express our sincerest thanks and acknowledgement for the help and support made to the citizens,” he said.

While it had been only a few weeks since the flood crisis, relatively few questions were put to the mayor about it. One of the only citizens to come forth raising the issue was Sylvain Daoust, who has previously raised questions about province’s and the city’s management of flood zones. Daoust asked Mayor Marc Demers whether the city might seek changes to the 0-20 years flood zone.

Demers told him that the city has no power to change provincial regulations for flood zones. “Only the government of Quebec can do it,” he said. “The city has been making submissions for several months to modify that and has asked to the support of provincial elected officials to change the regulations.”

Flood victims ticketed

The only other resident to raise the flooding issue was Micheline Charbonneau, who said she was among those who were flooded. According to Charbonneau, a number of car owners on flooded streets who moved their vehicles as the water rose later received parking tickets for leaving their cars in no parking zones. Mayor Demers said the executive-committee had asked for parking tolerance in some sectors during the flood crisis and that tickets in question would be re-examined.

Also during question period, Action Laval leader Jean-Claude Gobé raised questions about a condominium in Florida previously owned by former Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt and which is said to have been purchased though an offshore company in the Bahamas suspected to be involved in money laundering.

Reminding the mayor that the City of Laval signed an agreement with Vaillancourt prior to the former mayor’s being jailed following his conviction for public corruption, Gobé suggested the city should be doing more to find out who is “hiding” behind the offshore company.

Vaillancourt rumors resurface

“I think, Mr. Mayor, that it would be part of our responsibility and out of respect to the citizens in this situation with Mr. Vaillanourt which was outrageous to take all the measures to recover all the monies possible for reasons having to do with justice and equity,” he continued.

Responding, Demers said he was reluctant to speculate on the issue. “Truly, the condo in question is not something new – it is known by the police authorities,” he said, adding that it had also come to the attention of UPAC and several judges.

Commenting on the fact the condo in question is said to have been sold for a much lower price than the current market value, Demers said, “Everybody knows that real estate a few years ago in Florida got cut to around a third of its value. And it was during this time that the acquisition of this condo was made.”

Demers also noted that the agreement the City of Laval signed with Vaillancourt was scrutinized by several leading legal experts familiar with all the recent municipal corruption issues in Quebec and that the city managed as a result to recover some $10 million from Vaillancourt when most people were doubtful it would be possible.

Former mayor in jail, says Demers

“He is currently in jail and the City of Laval has the money,” said Demers. “It would have been very easy for him to say he was contesting everything, that he would pay lawyers $8 million and he would be left with two, rather than give it to the city.” He told Gobé that what he was asking for “is technically impossible. It’s basic in law.”

Also during the meeting, Chomedey city councillor Aglaia Revelakis, the sole sitting member of council for Action Laval, tabled a motion calling on the council majority to support a resolution to create a new municipal committee for women’s issues in Laval. During the citizens’ question period, the motion was supported by a group of four representatives of the Table de concertation de Laval en condition féminine (TCLCF), including Souad Siala.