Municipality of Pontiac candidates meet

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Added: Tue, 10/24/2017 - 7:59pm
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Pontiac councillor and mayor candidates expressed their views and platforms during an all candidates meeting, October 15.

Samantha MacConnell

MUNICIPALITY OF PONTIAC – An all candidates meeting for the Municipality of Pontiac was held the afternoon of October 15 at l’Ecole Notre Dame-de-la-Joie in Luskville. The three-hour plus meeting allowed approximately 75 residents from five of the six districts to meet the council and mayoral candidates, hear answers to pre-set questions and ask questions from the floor, in preparation for the November 5 election.
Councillor candidates included: District 1: Jean Côté and Nancy Draper-Maxsom (incumbent); District 2 (Quyon): Garry Dagenais and Susan McKay; District 4: Josée Graveline-Davis, Susan Lamont and Scott McDonald; District 5: Ricky Knox and Isabelle Patry; and District 6: Leslie-Anne Barber, Jean Paquin (not present), and William Twolan. District 3’s Thomas Howard was not present, due to acclamation.
After a brief introduction by Lynne Lavery, the Pontiac Journal’s general manager and the meeting’s sponsor, moderator Daniel Huard explained the rules for the event. Council candidates were given two minutes to introduce themselves, their values, ties to the community and goals if elected and one minute to respond to questions.
The first pre-set question, “What is your number one priority, if elected?” was responded with a variety of answers including road maintenance and quality; taxes and tax fairness; safety and security; internet access; and better communication with residents. A point repeated was the need to make strategic plans and for councillors to work together for the benefit of the entire municipality. 
The second question, “What would you do to support and encourage economic growth in the area?” brought suggestions regarding incentives to attract investment; the need for infrastructure development and proper zoning; working to find funding and grants; encouraging local businesses and developing parks and other activities for young families.
There were also suggestions on how to increase tourism and access points to the Ottawa River and Gatineau Park.
The floor was then opened to members of the community. These questions touched topics such as: how to deal with the aging population and the need for community
and mixed housing; the possibility of a walk-in clinic in Luskville; balancing economic development with protecting the environment; and supporting local businesses.
After two hours and a short break the mayoral candidates, Roger Larose and Joanne Labadie squared off. Asked for priorities, Labadie repeated roads,
transportation and infrastructure as well as investing in municipal workers with more training. She also said she would put decisions into action more quickly.
Larose responded saying that professional training has been done and that money can’t be wasted.
Vision for the future Labadie wants to tap into tourism via the Ottawa River and Gatineau Park; Larose pointed out the success of the recent Fall Fair, and the
need for visitors to discover the rest of the municipality.
Encourage economic growth? Larose wants Hwy 148 safe and attractive, which will bring more people and Labadie said she would create a high tech incubator to bring in new ideas and opportunities, through private public consultation.
Asked how to improve participation by citizens, Larose responded this is happening  with the Municipal Bulletin and surveys done; Labadie wants to create a long term strategic plan and said councillors need to be active in the community. 
Improving working relationships at council? Larose said that members need
to work together; the mayor’s job is to work with council but he needs councillors who want to work. Labadie responded that the municipal code is clear regarding council’s conduct and that training is available on team building. “Members need to learn to disagree without stopping progress,” she stated.
Other questions covered zoning problems; grant applications; low income housing; the proposed Chalk River dump (both opposed); water quality in Quyon; roads; and priorities for young families. 
The two candidates closed the meeting by summarizing why they want the job of mayor. Larose said he has worked hard for the past four years and they need to move forward: “We are on the right track.” Labadie said she has been involved in grassroots activism all her life. “Politics is in my blood.
I can bring value to the job; I’m intuitive and visionary, have a thick skin and the
timing is right,” she concluded. 
Elections for the Municipality of Pontiac will take place on Sunday, November 5th, at the Luskville Library at 2024 Route 148.
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