Forestry resolutions cause heat; new leases for Gillies Lake


Allyson Beauregard

MRC PONTIAC – The 18 mayors of the MRC Pontiac gathered at the Bryson Lions Hall, September 15, for their monthly Council of Mayors(CoM) meeting, mostly without a hitch – aside from resolutions on forestry.
Tensions arose during June’s meeting concerning a resolution mandating Jason Durand, director of territory, to look into hiring an external firm to help the MRC create an action plan for forestry using a maximum of $25,000 from the Territorial Development Fund (FDT) that won’t be used for energy-from-waste consultant fees. Some mayors were frustrated that the action plan wasn’t created earlier when the MRC had a consultant on staff, Pierre Vezina, which would have saved money. In the end, Durand was mandated to approach the company he had in mind.
Vezina worked as a forestry consultant on the Biomass Conversion Center/ bio-park file for eight years, but his contract wasn’t renewed last November after a majority, including Warden Jane Toller, were frustrated with the lack of progress on getting the project in full operation. Since then, there have been many tied votes and controversy at the CoM table.
During the latest meeting, Durand asked for permission to hire firm Nova Sylva to
create the action plan. However mayors Winston Sunstrum (L’Isle-aux-Allumettes) and Colleen Larivière (Litchfield) expressed concern about a perceived lack of experience the company has with creating action plans and awarding a contract with an election in the near future.
“We’re putting staff in the middle of a political situation,” Sunstrum said, suggesting the CoM go to tender to find a company rather than “sole-sourcing.”
The vote ended in a tie with mayors Larivière, Sunstrum, Brent Orr (Bristol), Maurice Beauregard (Campbell’s Bay), Doris Ranger (Sheenboro), Alain Gagnon (Bryson), Donald Gagnon (Chichester), John Armstrong (Clarendon) and Sandra Murray (Shawville) voting against. Toller voted in favour of hiring Nova Sylva to break the tie.
Shortly after, a resolution asking the federal government for “continuity of funding and maintenance of resources” for the bio-park project also caused some stir.
“I find it very peculiar that we’re here tonight,” said Larivière, explaining that a resolution to support the biopark was presented in January but was refused by nine mayors and Toller. “Yet, here we are, two months before an election, and this resolution is on the table,” she added, asking mayors to remember their last vote and if they would vote the same way.
In the end, the resolution was passed unanimously.
Leftover gravel from last season’s sanding on the Bois Franc Road will be used to re-gravel the road from kilometre 47 to 54.
Three culverts and one bridge will be repaired in the TNO area using $72,000 from the TNO fund and a $198,000 contribution from the government.
A call to local artists will be launched October 1 in order to add to the MRC’s regional art collection. Submissions will be accepted until November 12.
A call for projects for the second stream of the MRC’s Creative Development Fund will be launched October 12 with a deadline of November 12. The objective of the fund is to support local artists and art centres with various projects, with $2,500 available twice annually.
A second sponsorship of $850 was awarded to Cletus Ferrigan to cover extra costs associated with organizing the Country Isolation Jamboree, which had to be postponed until summer 2022 because the Campbell’s Bay RA Hall is being used for vaccination.
Other business
Permission was given to Waltham to use MRC
TPI land along the Black River Road to create a public parking lot for those using the river for tubing, canoeing, etc.
A plan for developing the Gillies Lake area in Mansfield (around km 28 on the Bois Franc Road) will be created and twelve lots will be available through a draw. A road network will be created/ improved for the lake, with about $1,300 to be spent in stumpage fees, $31,000 to create roads, and $25,000 for gravel to be taken from the Fonds de gestion et de mise en valeur du territoire.
Sunstrum introduced a resolution for the Outaoauis’ Wardens Table to hold regularly scheduled, public meetings to promote transparency given that the MRC financially contributes to the table annually. It was adopted unanimously.
The mayors resolved to ask the federal government for a $4 million investment to install five cellular towers in the region to address all of the non-serviced areas.
The next CoM meeting is October 6.