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As tensions rise in Quebec village, 3 councillors resign, citing working environment

The town hall was packed with residents in Sainte-Pétronille, Que., when three municipal councillors resigned.  (Philippe L'Heureux/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The town hall was packed with residents in Sainte-Pétronille, Que., when three municipal councillors resigned. (Philippe L'Heureux/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Three municipal councillors in Sainte-Pétronille, Que., quit Tuesday evening as tensions continue to run high in the small municipality, located east of Quebec City.

This comes months after the Quebec village hit residents and the local paper with legal notices after questions were raised about the town's new manager, Nathalie Paquet.

In January, the municipality told the local paper, Autour de l'Île, that it was unacceptable to report on a letter from residents demanding an investigation into Paquet after information from an access-to-information request suggested she had been accused of serious offences in a past job.

Claude Archambault was one of the councillors who resigned Tuesday, citing the deteriorating working environment over the past few months.

Mayor Jean Côté also confirmed the departures of councillors Alain Laroche and Lyne Gosselin. People packed inside the town hall applauded the news, as some residents even waited outside.

A town of 1,000 has come under fire after the local paper and 97 citizens recieved formal notices. The municipality is defending their decision, saying it is trying to defend the new general manager's reputation.
A town of 1,000 has come under fire after the local paper and 97 citizens recieved formal notices. The municipality is defending their decision, saying it is trying to defend the new general manager's reputation.

The town of 1,000 came under fire in January after the local paper and 97 citizens recieved formal notices. (Sébastien Vachon/Radio-Canada)

Residents also filed a second petition Tuesday evening calling on the municipality to stop acting in an authoritarian manner. It was signed by more than 500 people — more than half of the village — and it calls for a detailed presentation of the municipal budget and spending.

They are asking for easier access to public documents and for town hall meetings to be more accessible.

Maurice Boivin, one of the signatories, says the town's actions have been disturbing the peaceful and joyful climate that normally reigns and has instead cast a "black cloud" over the village.

"We wanted openness, for the municipality to change these things. But it's completely closed … [in] an alternate reality that's not connected to its citizens, that's not listening to its citizens," said Boivin.

Maurice Boivin is one of several citizens who recieved the formal notice.
Maurice Boivin is one of several citizens who recieved the formal notice.

Maurice Boivin is one of several citizens who received the formal notice and has signed both petitions created by residents in Sainte-Pétronille. (Radio-Canada )

Mayor Côté says it's a sad situation but says that municipal affairs are being soundly managed. In his opening statement on Tuesday, he criticized the new petition.

The poor reception of the new petition by the municipal council is something that disappointed François Martin, the leader of a volunteer group that shared the petition.

"Why did three of the mayor's councillors quit? It's very troubling," said Martin.

"There's been no listening, no transparency."

Details pertaining to a byelection should be released within 30 days. The Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) has opened an investigation into the sending of formal notices in January. If one more councillor resigns, quorum would be lost and the commission could place the town under temporary trusteeship.