Francine Bastien, spécial collaboration
Tempo wishes to thank Town Clerk Owen Falquero for providing the original minutes of the first meetings of the New Town’s Council.
After its official creation on January 2, 1971, the Town of Brome Lake held its first council meeting as a new town on January 11, 1971 at the County House in Knowlton. The building is known today as the old Court House next to Town Hall on St. Paul Street. Members of Council were sworn in at that first meeting: Lester Mizener as mayor; George Johnston as acting mayor and councillor and Alan C. Webster, Eric Foster, Heliodore Ares, Philippe Allard, Dr. C. Lorne Church, I. Roderick Crandall and F.R. Partridge as councillors. Also, Peter G. White and John W. Noyes were appointed councillors for Foster to replace Léo Dagenais and Alfred H. Wing who resigned after the merger.
At the time, the population of the former Village of Foster (500), that of the Village of Knowlton (1500) and of the Township of Brome (1900) was estimated at 3900 people.
Then came the approval of detailed lists of expenses pertaining to each of the former villages such as $3.25 for Brome Lake Services and $1.36 for Shefford Hardware! The session went on for so long that business had to be continued at a second meeting on January 18, 1971. During that session, Council determined how they would govern the new town. A “Commissioner system’’ was adopted. Headed by councillors, “non-councillors could assist and advise’’ in dealing with the various departments or functions such as roads, finances, fire, municipal affairs, etc. Interesting to note that responsibilities under ‘Public health and Recreation’ included ‘swimming pool’ (there was no public swimming pool in TBL), garbage collection, ‘dumps’ and social welfare! The Commissioner system was to inspire the volunteer committees known today as the consultative committees on urbanism (CCU) and on the environment (CCE).
Twelve employees of the new town
Then came a vote to set the salaries of municipal officers and employees, all 12 of them according to the minutes of the meeting. The town Clerk, Edward C. Pilson received $7,700 per year and Stanley Quilliams, the Treasurer, was paid $6,000 a year. The ‘Superintendent’ of the Village’ (today’s Director General) Charles F. Barnes was paid $641.73 a month. TBL now has 42 employees for a population of about 5,495 (2016 census).
Adoption of the first bylaws of the new town
In February 1971, Council adopted bylaw No. 1 establishing the first Monday of each month at 7 p.m. as the time of its regular public meetings. A practice that still stands 50 years later.
Bylaw No. 2 established a Fire brigade.
The bylaw, drafted in English only, like all the meetings’ minutes, read: “… at the discretion of the Municipal Council, a sufficient number of members of the Brigade be recruited on a volunteer basis, and furnished with adequate fire fighting equipment.’’
Bylaw No 3 created a police force.
It said: “The Force shall be equipped, clothed, Armed (sic) and perform such duties as assigned by the Council…’’ It then appointed Raymond Gaudreau as Acting Chief of Police at a salary of $150. a week “and no overtime’’ to work with two full time officers – John L. Grenier and Ralph Seaton – at a salary of up to $112.50 a week each. The bylaw goes on to say “There will be up to three officers on call to be paid at the rate of $2.00 an hour.’’ It is easy to figure out that at these rates, the police force of 50 years ago cost nowhere near the $2M we now pay each year to the SQ, inflation notwithstanding.