By William Crooks
Local Journalism Initiative
Fitch Bay Marina owner Stéphane Pouliot has taken legal action against Stanstead Township over a bylaw passed by its council in March of this year. The bylaw, as stated, mandates a new $450 seasonal fee for non-residents to use the municipality-provided washing station and boat ramp on Lake Memphremagog. The Record spoke with Pouliot to get his side of the issue and some local public officials to gain a wider context.
“The bylaw is [number] 464-2023,” Pouliot began, put in place by Stanstead Township on March 3 of this year. He added that it was passed in the middle of winter when Stanstead’s population is “very low”. The local population is about 400 in the winter and 1,600 in the summer, he explained, which means the people who are affected by the bylaw were not there to contest it if they so chose. “You have one month [to contest new bylaws],” he said, now his only option is the courts.
Pouliot states he began negotiations with the municipality shortly thereafter to get them to understand that “time on the lake cannot be billed”.
According to Pouliot, the bylaw mandates, amongst other things, that any non-resident (anyone whose name is not on a local land title) must pay $450 to have their boat on the lake for the season, even though they may only use the municipalities’ services once when they enter the lake at the beginning of the summer and once when they leave at the end.
“You have to pay a flat fee for your summer on the lake,” he said, which he thinks is unfair.
Only the Stanstead Township has put something like this in place, he said, the other municipalities surrounding the lake have no such bylaw. “This puts a price to be on the lake,” he repeated. So, he has taken legal action against the municipality using a legal firm from Sherbrooke.