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Andre Fortin discusses potential of hops farming and other avenues for development

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Added: Thu, 06/05/2014 - 8:05am
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Allyson Beauregard

CAMPBELL’S BAY – The new Pontiac Liberal MNA, Andre Fortin,      who recently replaced Charlotte L’Ecuyer, took some time to speak about the Pontiac’s economy, as well as the area’s struggles and its strengths, at his office in Campbell’s Bay, May 8.
According to Fortin, the Pontiac possesses huge potential for farming hops. “We have the right climate here. The industry has potential, there just needs to be some help to grow that potential.” A cooperative currently exists between three Pontiac hops farmers, located in L’Isle-aux-Allumettes, Bristol and Ile-du-Grand-Calumet.     
In terms of attracting tourists to the area and encouraging them to return, Fortin agrees that focusing on cottagers would be beneficial as they continue to visit the area yearly and have the option of supporting local businesses. “We need to be able to inform them of what else exists in the area so after spending a few days at the cottage, they might decide to visit another attraction in the area,” he explained.
Fortin said this relay of information also needs to exists for those using the PPJ trail, which he deems to be an essential piece in attracting tourists to the area and encouraging them to support other Pontiac businesses. He explained it would be helpful to continue        promoting the region’s businesses, organizations, etc., by having an individual along the trail handing out brochures and informing trail users of attractions and businesses in the areas they are passing through. “Passing through an area on the trail         isn’t enough as people don’t see what is offered beyond that location on the trail,” he added.
As another means         of attracting tourists, investors, and businesses to the region, Fortin believes improving cell phone and internet service is a place to start. “There are several businesses who need reliable internet and cell phone services to operate. Without them, they will relocate somewhere else and will take potential job openings with them. The same        situation exists for people working from home who need reliable internet   connections for conference calls, emails, etc. If they are unable to get the service they require, they will be forced to either relocate, or find another job,” he explained.
“There is also the issue of power outages, particularly in the L’Isle-aux-Allumettes area. I have heard they are really    damaging for some     farmers. When the power goes out while using automatic milking systems, the machine loses suction and will fall on the ground. When the power supply returns so does the suction that will now be sucking up dirt, which ruins the entire batch,” he added.    
The power outages also have the potential of   turning away tourists,     cottagers and even residents who have to deal with power surges that can damage their appliances or the contents of their fridges and freezers if they are not home.