Economic development, not more taxes


The September 11 Journal raised many good points: Rejean G.

The September 11 Journal raised many good points: Rejean G. Bussiere’s letter on what Pontiac has to offer and that it is time to take matters into our own hands; Nancy Hunt’s editorial on the MRC Pontiac waiting for a ‘Holy Grail’ to solve its economic development problems; and Fred Ryan’s column on the same topic stating that we cannot continue to elect mayors based on the ‘good old boys attitude’.
There was also an article on the Dumoine River watershed on which I have lived for 21 years. Local tourist operators offer services such as commercial transportation. Canoe enthusiasts come from all over the world and they pay nothing to Pontiac businesses. Tourists must be obligated to use Pontiac-based service providers, and not outsiders. They must pay to use our infrastructure. We need to do what other MRCs do: for example, to fish salmon on certain Gaspé rivers, tourists are required to hire a local guide. Don’t our MRC leaders realize that for the Pontiac to develop economically we cannot be offering our region for free?
A few years ago Quebec implemented the “lodging tax”. The Outaouais Tourist Association told us the new tax was going to solve all of our marketing problems and their specialists would get our phones ringing! Years later, the phones did not ring and the ATO has increased the lodging tax. Is it because they care more about casinos and museums? If we want results, Pontiac residents will have to take marketing strategies into their own hands. The lodging tax funds must remain in Pontiac.
This year we, the owners of 10-Mile Lodge, spent $35,000 to keep our road open; neither the MRC nor the province maintains our roads. We actually had tourists camping in our yard and they never left 1 cent! It’s free for them, and there is nothing we can do. Our MRC charges us a road tax, $4,000 annually, and puts nothing on our section of road. Is this their vision? Tax us and create new taxes until we are forced to close?
In 2011 at my request, the Quebec Federation of Outfitters did a survey on taxes paid in all of Quebec’s TNOs. Our MRC Pontiac TNO is the highest taxed of any MRC in Quebec. How can our MRC get away with this? Easy! There is no representation for the TNO residents and we have no mayor who we can vote out.
How many people running the MRC Pontiac have proven to us that they can run a business or even understand small businesses? Our MRC population is now down to just over 14,000 residents. How low will it have to go before we run out of people to justify all the jobs and wages at the MRC Pontiac? We will not develop by creating taxes for services that they have no intention of providing.
Democracy, as in taxation through representation, continues to fail us. We rely on election results from other districts. So get out and vote! And please vote for people who understand small businesses; people who understand that the Pontiac cannot be free for the taking.

Richard Lauzon