Mayors consider firefighter training facility and changes electing warden

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Allyson Beauregard

Allyson Beauregard
CAMPBELL’S BAY – The 18 mayors of the Pontiac tackled a large agenda in their first MRC meeting of the year, January 28. Included in the agenda was the     election of a permanent warden and pro-warden, a discussion regarding a firefighters examination facility for the area, and a notice of motion to allow the   public to vote for the Pontiac’s warden. 
A notice of motion to elect the Pontiac’s warden by universal suffrage was brought forward by Clarendon Mayor, Terry Elliott. Electing a  warden by universal suffrage would allow anyone in the Pontiac to vote for the warden, rather than     leaving the decision to the 18 Pontiac mayors. The MRC council has 6 months to decide whether to go ahead with the notice of motion, which would require the warden to be elected every four years during regular    elections rather than every two years at the Council of Mayors meetings. “Universal  suffrage would eliminate what happened in the previous election where the residents of Litchfield (with less than 400 people casting their vote), decided for the entire Pontiac that the previous warden, Michael McCrank, was no longer eligible for the position,” said MRC Pontiac Executive Director, Rémi Bertrand.    
Raymond Durocher of Fort-Coulonge remained warden and William Sunstrum of L’Isle-aux-Allumettes remained   pro-warden, after an unchallenged election. They had been elected last November to cover the interim period between the municipal elections and January, when the previous     warden and pro-warden’s terms ended.
“Being elected as warden is not only a challenge, but it also gives a sense of pride,” said Durocher, who continued by saying he would donate $3,000 of his salary as warden back to the community – $1,000 for scholarships, $1,000 for the regional art      collection, $500 to Bouffe Pontiac at Christmas time, and $500 for the Benefit Golf Tournament organized by the Sûreté du Québec and the MRC Pontiac.
“It is important for me to share with the Pontiac community, and I know in advance that these donations will be well used. It is also a message to our voters who can be assured that we are not elected for our personal enrichment. We do this by conviction, and for the betterment of our communities,” concluded Durocher.
Jacques Piché, Fire Safety and Civil Security Coordinator for the MRC Pontiac brought another issue to the table. Currently, firefighters must travel to Gatineau to complete their certification training because a local, approved building for the examination does not exist. An extra expense is incurred to allow the firefighters to spend a day     practicing at the building to become familiar with the location prior to their examinations.  
Piché explained three options. First: use an existing building owned by Mansfield, which would require minor modifications at a low cost; however, this building and the lot are for sale and it could be sold at any time. Second: use a building owned by the Agricultural Society that would be lent to the Shawville / Clarendon Fire Department. This option requires an investment to renovate it up to the approved standard. Third: find a central location to build a certified training facility, using steel containers, at a cost of about $28,000. Piché asked for a resolution to request funding from the Government for the project.
Other options for funding include having one municipality pay for the expenses and then rent the facility, splitting the bill between the municipalities, or giving power to the MRC to budget the project, among others.
The next MRC meeting will be held March 25