MRC meeting - Livewell grant revived; PPJ free-for-all?

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Added: Wed, 03/27/2019 - 12:52pm
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Allyson Beauregard

CAMPBELL'S BAY – The monthly Council of Mayors (CoM) meeting was held at the MRC headquarters, March 20. Audited financial reports were presented for both the MRC Pontiac and TNO, which ended the year with $5,845 and $3,800 surpluses respectively, bringing their accumulated surpluses to $671,782 and $543,877.
Jordan Larivière, Youth Council president, briefed the mayors on the group's progress. With their mandate ending in June, the Council is meeting bi-weekly and plan to host an event focused on mental health awareness for students of the three local high schools sometime in May.
The mayors decided to reinstate the $100,000 grant they recently recanted from LiveWell if the organization meets certain conditions within the next six months. The deadline was extended given that the MRC made an error recanting the grant when the business actually had until March 31 to meet the original conditions, not December 31, 2018. “We are very supportive of LiveWell and hopeful that their plans come to fruition,” said Warden Jane Toller. 
After the CoM issued a formal request last month for the Pontiac's economic SWAT team to reconvene and establish a meeting schedule, a meeting has been planned for April. Jeffrey MacHan, head of the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation and chair of the group, has said increasing the frequency of the meetings and having everyone gather in one place isn't efficient, but Toller insists there are benefits. “It might not be the most efficient way, but it's beneficial to keep members fully informed and the more heads there are around the table, the more ideas will be born,” she added. There have been conference calls between the SWAT's subcommittees, but the entire group hasn't met in about a year.  
A multi-use PPJ?
Over a dozen people attended the meeting to express their support for
transforming the PPJ into a multi-use trail. Philip Pilon from the Pontiac Quad Club said ATV pass sales would help cover maintenance costs of the trail whereas no revenue is generated from cyclists.
Alain Goulet, president of the Pontiac Snowmobile Drivers Association, criticized the plan, saying it is impossible for ATVs and snowmobiles to share the same trail, that there are significant  maintenance costs and legal issues with ATVs using trails close to residences. Remo Pasteris from Green PPJ Verte submitted a report demonstrating that cycling is a $1.2 billion industry in Québec and emphasized that the PPJ will lose Route Verte funding ($125,000 annually) if motorized vehicles are permitted.
Toller said the MRC is reconsidering multi-use for the PPJ, but that much more
information is needed. One of the MRC's priorities is to link the region's ATV network with Ontario and the rest of the province. The mayors considered developing routes by using municipal roads, but reached a stalemate when the Ministry of Transport decided it wasn't safe for ATVs to use a section of Highway 148 between Davidson and Waltham.
“Rather than doing nothing, we are looking at all options with an open mind. We need to bring in as much tourism and economic development as possible by appealing to as many means of transportation as possible, while keeping in mind what's best for the people,” explained Toller, noting the PPJ is currently underused.  
The MRC will not pursue the study on the PPJ's usage and financial benefits suggested by Maurice Beauregard (Campbell's Bay) at a previous meeting due to the cost and time it would require.
“We will resolve this issue within this term,” concluded Toller.
The next Council of Mayors meeting will be April 17.