Warden: Raymond Durocher

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Added: Wed, 10/11/2017 - 10:05pm
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Allyson Beauregard

Raymond Durocher, current warden, has decided to retire from his position as mayor of Fort-Coulonge, which he has held since 1999, in hopes of becoming the Pontiac’s first elected warden. Shortly after returning to the Pontiac in 1991, Durocher became a councillor in Fort-Coulonge. He also served as pro-warden from 2009 until 2013, at which time he became warden.
“Leaving the Pontiac and returning, I realized nothing had really changed or
[progressed]. I started following council meetings and became really interested, running for councillor the same year,” he said.
Obstacles to progress
Durocher is very clear about the biggest obstacles the Pontiac faces; the first is
demographics. “We haven’t addressed this issue in the last 25 years. People are leaving and we’re not creating enough momentum to keep them here,” he stated.
Other challenges include the loss of economic drivers (banks, mills, etc); the need to diversify; and regional infrastructure (attracting investors and the tendency to put Vision2020 and its five target areas on the back burner).
“We have a hard time challenging ourselves to diversify our economy,” he explained, giving examples of hops growing, which he said many people doubted seven years ago when it first started, as well as the Biomass Conversion Centre.
“We always look at the money side of investments, but if you don’t invest in your future, you will have nothing. We have funds, but we have to use them wisely. The
government isn’t going to step in to save us,” he told the Journal.
“We always look at the money side of investments, but if you don’t invest in your future, you will have nothing. We have funds, but we have to use them wisely. The
government isn’t going to step in to save us,” he told the Journal.
Attracting investment
According to Durocher, attracting investors to the region is “very, very simple”: “We have to promote the Pontiac, show our strengths, and look for new technology and innovations,” he said, noting reliable and dependable cell phone, internet, and electricity services are essential.
“We have the labour, we are bilingual and our region has a lot of strengths,” he added, noting the Pontiac’s success doesn’t only depend on major industries. Small businesses and social economy organizations are equally important and create the momentum needed to attract people and investors to the area.
“Big industries that employ 100-200 people are great, but when they close, it really hurts,” he cautioned.  
Amalgamation
Durocher firmly stated he is pro-amalgamation, but said he will not force it on people: “If the citizens want it, I’ll support it. It’s up to them to decide,” he said, stressing that the cost of refusing to openly debate and discuss the issue is enormous.
“We’ve been told so many times to organize ourselves or be organized [by someone else]. We’re getting more and more responsibility at the regional level, but we don’t have the money to operate [the mandates]. We’re wasting money (fire departments needing the same equipment, snow plowing, etc) and effort. If we don’t work for amalgamation, can we have better protocols, partnerships, and procedures that will save money? It’s a discussion that needs to take place,” he elaborated.
Nuclear dump
Durocher’s position is clear on the proposed nuclear dump: “Right now, based on what I know from the public consultations, I am totally against it because they can’t answer my questions and I can’t find the answers to them. I’m worried about health because it is close to potable water,” he said, noting the Safety Commission’s consultation on October 2 only answered some of his concerns.
He said a solution needs to be found to clean up the Chalk River site, but that importing wastes from elsewhere should be out of the question. “Is there a safe, long-term solution or are we playing Russian roulette with radioactive waste? That’s what we need to find out,” he added. 
Realistic growth
Highlighting the importance of revamping and continuing public consultations on Vision2020, Durocher said all five sectors in the plan (forestry, agriculture, tourism, commerce, and social economy) present the best possibilities for growth.
“There is no shut down sector in the Pontiac, but all five of Vision2020’s sectors are at the point of having full development potential. We now have to create momentum, get the people to believe, and get everyone to put their elbow to the shovel to move forward,” he concluded.