SHAWVILLE – Pontiac Environment Protection (PEP) held their Annual General Meeting and a regular meeting, August 12, in Shawville. President, Marilee DeLombard, reported on the past year’s activities that included events such as Michael Runtz’s birding talk at Café 349 last October and “Trash Talk – Domestic Waste Management in the Pontiac,” a public discussion held last March.
PEP also represents the interests of the environment on the MRC Pontiac’s Intramunicipal Public Land Advisory Committee and the TRGIRT (Outaouais regional integrated public land and resources management table). Networking took place through participation in a number of local and regional activities. PEP also submitted comments for the public consultation on the Public Forest Operations Plan (PAFI-O) as well as for the MRC Pontiac Waste Management Consultation.
Venetia Crawford stepped down as vice-president and Bob Simpson took on the position. Otherwise, the executive remains the same with Marilee DeLombard as president, Deborah Powell as secretary-treasurer and Robert Wills as member-at-large.
With the AGM wrapped up, members moved to the regular meeting. The financial update involved the Chimney Swift Roost Project, which PEP took on financial responsibility for in an agreement signed with the West Quebec School Board in May. Deborah Powell, project co-coordinator, assured members that, due to the Indiegogo fundraising campaign and donations from the Ottawa Field Naturalists Club and Bird Protection Quebec, most expenses had already been covered. Outstanding debts will be covered by funding from the Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment Canada) and the Fondation de la faune du Quebec by early September with enough left over to set up a maintenance fund for the roost.
“The Chimney Swift Roost constructed at McDowell is the first purpose-built structure in Canada to succeed in being used by Swifts. There have been lots of attempts to make habitat for these birds but this is the first, to my knowledge, that has worked and we should be proud of that,” said Powell. “While the number of Swifts using the new roost this year is nowhere near the numbers observed when the old chimney was standing, we may see more birds in the coming years as more traditional chimneys are closed off,” she added.
Paula Armstrong, who along with Marilee DeLombard represents PEP on the MRC Pontiac’s TPI committee, gave a report on forestry activities carried out on the TPI and revenues made through those activities. “We should consider asking that funding be given to an innovative project that makes use of public land in ways other than forestry,” she said.
Armstrong also mentioned that the MRC and the Wood Producers Board, representing private woodlot owners, are working together to resolve a wood pricing problem. Private woodlot owners had protested that wood from the TPI was being sold at a cheaper price than they could offer given that their operations are often smaller and they have to pay taxes on their land.
As well, the tactical forest management plan that is supposed to set policy for the operational plans has still not been completed. Other topics covered at the meeting included concerns regarding activities at the Pontiac Regional Industrial Park in Litchfield and plans for a renewed web presence for PEP. The president also reminded members that there is a provincial consultation on uranium exploration and mining coming up soon.
The next PEP meeting will be held in October.