CAMPBELL’S BAY – The 18 mayors of the MRC Pontiac gathered at the MRC building for the regular Council of Mayor’s meeting, September 20. The agenda included a question regarding the future of the PPJ, a request for the MRC to lease the CN corridor, funding to improve the Jim’s Lake Road, funding for a study on fire services (see page 11) and the tabling of an in-house report regarding electing the warden (see page 3), among other things.
Regent Dugas, MRC Director of Territory, announced that the public boat launch at Lac Dumont is now complete, coming in $2,000 above the original budget at $32,000. The 3 kilometres of road leading to the launch was also repaired for about $6,700, which was taken from the TNO budget.
Denis Rozon from Bristol’s Timberland Tours asked Council for financial support to help cover the costs of hosting an international sled dog and skijoring race on snow in January 2017; he asked for $600 from each municipality. Rozon has constructed 18 tepees on the grounds that will be used to promote the Pontiac’s 18 municipalities; he will also need to expand his trails by 4 km in order to accommodate the winter races.
After the Council originally decided to only consider the contribution, Shawville Mayor Sandra Murray called a vote on the issue with the decision 10 to 8 in favour of the request.
Jim’s Lake Road improvements
The MRC will invest $15,000 in improving the Jim’s Lake Road by adding gravel.
Financing for the gravel on Jim’s Lake Road will come from the Sustainable Development of Forests Program’s budget the MRC had set aside in January 2016 for work on the multi-use road network in order to maintain access to public land.
PPJ and ATVs
Remo Pasteris from Green PPJ Verte Committee asked Council if the presentation given by Cindy Cassidy from the Eastern Ontario Trail Alliance (EOTA) the week prior (see page 2 of the September 21 edition) will have any impact on the decision to open the PPJ’s over-width to ATVs. According to Warden Raymond Durocher, the assembly was impressed by the presentation, but nothing is final.
“There’s a question of adaptation. The EOTA is a great system, but they’ve been working on it for a very long time… if I feel this file isn’t moving forward in the
best interest of everyone and the ATV committee report isn’t inclusive, I won’t sign it,” he said.
Pasteris also asked if the MRC has looked into why the Pontiac hasn’t been able to tap into the $7 million cycling industry in Quebec and he stressed the importance of addressing that issue before “re-inventing the wheel”. Durocher responded that for a long time, the Pontiac’s PPJ trail was “an island” with no connections at either the Ontario or Gatineau ends.
Winston Sunstrum, Mayor of L’Isle-aux-Allumettes stated that Council needs to restart the file from the very beginning. “The EOTA network was well planned out from the beginning and started with support from all the stakeholders,” he added.
CN corridor lease
The Pontiac Snowmobile Drivers Association (PSDA) asked the MRC for help in leasing the CN corridor from Portage-du-Fort (where a bridge from Ontario has recently been built) to Bristol. Since the PSDA is a non-profit organization, CN will not issue a lease directly to them, and the club asked that the MRC lease the property and sublease it to them. According to the PSDA, the lease will allow them to take advantage of a $150,000 grant.
However, a condition of the lease is that the lease holder is responsible for dismantling and removing a group of storage units located along the corridor at the end of the lease. “By subleasing, we are placing the onus of reasonability on a group of
volunteers. In court, we’d be held responsible and the removal of the buildings will cost a fortune in fees related to the environment because they are located on the corridor,” said Durocher, firmly stating he will not sign the lease until it has been carefully reviewed. “Let’s make sure we’re protected before we sign,” he added.
Thorne Mayor Terry Murdock questioned whether the corridor could be maximized as a tourist route into the Pontiac by allowing it to be multi-useor leased seasonally.
Council will re-visit the issue during a working session.
The next Council of Mayors meeting will be held October 18.