Lafontaine Islands, fire safety, and Zone 501

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Allyson Beauregard


Allyson Beauregard

CAMPBELL’S BAY – Pontiac mayors and members of the MRC Pontiac gathered for the regular Council of Mayors meeting, August 25. On the agenda was a discussion regarding the Lafontaine Islands, a presentation from the Ministry of Transports Quebec regarding the Marchand Bridge’s closure (page 2), and a notice regarding an upcoming working session on fire
safety in the region.
John Petty, a Shawville resident who has played a key role in organizing the annual Terry Fox Run in the municipality over the years, asked the Council for
help in revitalizing and
rejuvenating the run, to take place at Pontiac High School in Shawville on September 20 at 2 P.M. “In the run’s glory years, there were lots of people
participating, but a little of the run’s lustre has worn off. We are doing okay, but we want to do better. We need to recapture the excitement and get more people to the starting line,” said Petty, who asked the Council to help promote the run by participating, spreading the word, or signing pledge sheets. Each meeting
participant was given a sign bearing details of the run to install outside their offices or homes. “Money is good, but people are more important,” concluded Petty.
The Council accepted to allow the MRC Pontiac to receive a transfer of the CLD’s assets following its closure due to Law 28.
Lafontaine Islands
Based on recent discussions regarding developing the Lafontaine Islands in the municipality of Ile-du-Grand-Calumet, Mayor Irene Nadeau presented a resolution to have the MRC Pontiac identify the Islands and the Rocher Fendu rapids as developmental priorities and to give authority to the Calumet council to manage any future projects.
Nadeau stated she wants to be a principle player in any discussions regarding the area’s development and does not want to depend
on the MRC to relay
information to her.
Some Pontiac residents and businesses have been discussing forming a
cooperative to develop the Lafontaine Islands and their rapids, which are said to be one of the best in North America. 
“I support the project for the betterment of the economy, but I’m not ready to support this type of
resolution,” said Winston Sunstrum, L’Isle-aux-Allumettes mayor, stating he views the MRC Pontiac to be in the best position for leadership in regard
to the area’s development.
“A project of this
magnitude needs more than five months of
discussion before forming resolutions,” he concluded.
MRC Pontiac Warden and Mayor of Fort-Coulonge Raymond Durocher said the issue is complex since the Islands are part of the intra-municipal public lands (TPI) under the responsibility of the MRC Pontiac, which
is delegated by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. Durocher
proposed a meeting with all the ministries and parties involved and a motion was made and adopted to
coordinate the meeting.
Elected officials were invited by the Ad Hoc
Fire Safety Committee to attend a working session on October 3 to discuss an updated approach to fire safety coverage in the Pontiac for the next five years in order to meet the requirements of the Fire Safety Act. A revision of the Fire Safety Cover Plan must be made before October 2016.
“There are 15 fire departments in the Pontiac, which cost $1.6 million to maintain per year to serve only 14,000 people,” said Durocher. “We must
re-write our plan. There is concern over where we
will be in the next five years given the uncertainty regarding the abolition of the Grandfather clause; some departments won’t have any firefighters if this becomes law rather than a recommendation. We have to change; we can’t maintain our current system because we may be faced with a situation where we don’t have the personnel to fight fires or the money to do it,” he added.
Although a discussion regarding zone 501 was
not on the agenda, in a press briefing following
the meeting, Durocher explained a vote regarding zoning the area for
commercial use will
probably take place at the next Council meeting.
“The mayors needed more information before making a decision. We want to take our time so we make sure we make the right
decision,” he said.