With less than two weeks till voters hit the ballot box, the mayoral race in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is shaping up to be a fight of new ideas versus experience.
Incumbent mayor Paola Hawa is looking to complete her third term as mayor of the West Island waterfront town.
Hawa is up against a 28-year-old former district three city councillor, Francis Juneau.
Juneau said he is running to change the status quo and to bring new ideas to city council through teamwork — something he says is lacking at the moment.
“I want council to work together to get everyone on board,” Juneau said.
Working as a councillor for the past six years, the financial advisor said he wants to bring his attention to the northern part of the town, with a focus on revamping parks and public spaces.
Juneau said the area has been forgotten by council and the current administration.
“We want to revitalize the parks in the area. Much of the play structures and things haven’t changed for decades. I played with the same ones as a kid,” Juneau said.
According to Hawa, projects to revamp spaces such as Park Roubillard are in the pipeline, already voted and approved by council in 2020.
Work on the space was delayed, Hawa said, due to the pandemic and is expected to start next spring.
During this election cycle, in early October, the city announced the signing of a major $300-million seniors’ housing project.
The municipality sold the land beside Ste-Anne’s Hospital on Anciens-Combattants Boulevard to developer Dev Meta for $12.5 million.
It is said to be the largest real estate development project in the town’s history, according to Hawa.
Work on the site is scheduled to begin in the fall 2022 and be completed by 2027.
“This seniors village is a visionary project that will be revolutionary for seniors and the community of the west island,” Hawa said.
“I want to see this through.”
Hawa said her two terms as mayor speak for themselves, citing as examples to the protection of the 55 hectares of green space in the l’Anse-à-L’Orme forest and the establishment of a tourism initiative on the waterfront.
The incumbent mayor said experience is a big factor in this election, pointing to her opponent’s young age.
“Experience is everything. With big projects coming along, experience does matter,” Hawa said.
Juneau said his age brings a new perspective and fresh outlook on certain issues.
But that’s a perspective that Hawa said leaves Juneau on the outside looking in, and being on the opposite side of much of the council on major files.
“He voted for allowing hunting in, essentially, people’s back yards,” Hawa said.
Going against the hunting ban on the island of Montreal is something that Hawa has been spearheading for the last eight years.
Juneau was the only councillor on the agglomeration council to oppose the bill.
“I am against hunting in the park de le Ouest and people’s back yards where the public walk,” Juneau said. “But I wanted more details surrounding this because it covered the whole island of Montreal.”
Both claim the environment is top of the agenda.
Juneau said he wants to improve recycling for the town with a new drop-off Ecocentre.
“It’s a shame we can’t recycle everything in the city. I’m 100 per cent for the environment, “Juneau said.
In 2019, Juneau voted against a study that would have hired a climate change preparedness specialist to look at reducing the city’s environmental footprint.
One of the recommendations was looking at modernizing the city’s fleet of vehicles to electric, something Juneau said wasn’t necessary.
“We just changed our big trucks. They won’t need to be changed for another 10 years,” Juneau said.
“You have to plan ahead of time. You have to see things coming,” Hawa said.