MRC creates Flood Prevention Task Force; supports health decentralization

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Added: Wed, 01/13/2021 - 12:07pm
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Allyson Beauregard

MRC PONTIAC – The MRC Pontiac held its last Council of Mayors (CoM) meeting for 2020 on December 16 via teleconference with a number of hot topics discussed.
With news of the region entering the red zone as of December 17, the mayors were angry and sent a unanimous resolution to the Premier denouncing the
decision. “We all did our part and followed the rules and this is how we are rewarded,” said Mayor Sandra Murray (Shawville). 
A one-time $10,000 donation was provided to the Ski at School program for the 2020-2021 season.
Louis Harvey from Phare Ouest, the organization working on a project to
illuminate the Marchand Bridge in Mansfield, has signed a contract with Novom for the permanent illumination of the bridge. The group has collected about $145,000 so far from various funding sources, including the MRC, and hopes to hold an inauguration on July 1, 2021 in Mansfield.
Two questions were received from the public: Pat Goyette asked for a breakdown of the approximate $700,000 spent on the Biomass Conversion Project to date; and André Boisvert worried about the current river water levels, which are as high now as they were before for the 2019 flood, and said, “If we have an extreme winter, we’re doomed.”
To explore this issue and others related to flooding, the CoM created a special committee, the Flood Prevention Task Force, to include mayors of the most affected municipalities as well as citizens like Boisvert.
Council unanimously decided to send a resolution to Québec’s Ministry of Health demanding various measures to decentralize the Pontiac’s health system: reinstate a local administrator and director of professional services, create a local council of physicians, and allow a pilot project to equalize nurses’ wages to Ontario, among several other demands.
A draft bylaw allowing the use of snowmobiles in the winter and ATVs in the summer on the former Canadian National Railway corridor in Bristol, Clarendon, Litchfield, and Portage du Fort was adopted. The public comment period ran from December 17, 2020 to January 10, 2021.
Council also agreed to apply for $25,000 in funding from Tourism Outaouais and set aside a maximum of $20,000 from its tourism marketing budget to support the West
Carleton Snowmobile Trails Association in creating the ‘longest snowmobile bridge in the world’ and a ‘gateway for snowmobilers’ between Québec and Ontario. A
location for the bridge has not yet been decided.
The MRC signed an agreement with a company to advance a river routes project to map and promote various tourism paddling routes. The MRC also supported Tourism Outaouais’ application to the Desjardins Fund to create scenic rest stops along the Chemins d’eau route. 
Another $35,000 was awarded to a Pontiac business through the SME Emergency Aid Fund the MRC manages; $76,386 remains.
In donations and sponsors, the Pingouins Snowmobile Club was given $1,000 to support their season and Cletus Ferrigan received $1,800 toward planning an ‘Isolation
2020 Country Jamboree’ in August 2021.
Kari Richardson, MRC environment coordinator, presented an action plan for the MRC to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (see page 9).
A new annual fund to support local artists and artist-run centers was created. $5,000 will be taken from the MRC’s surplus this year, and the amount will be  included in future annual budgets.
Mayor Winston Sunstrum (L’Isle-aux-Allumettes) put forward two resolutions concerning the forest industry: to thank Renmatix, the company that is considering joining the Pontiac’s Biomass project, for its interest in the MRC Pontiac and for the region to pursue and support its relocation here; and to organize a forestry working session in January to “further develop a forestry strategy that unites the MRC Pontiac”, with presentations from various forest industry stakeholders.
At the end of the meeting, Sunstrum suggested the mayors begin exploring a mail-in voting system for November’s municipal elections in the event that the COVID pandemic persists in the fall.
The next CoM meeting is January 20.