MRC PONTIAC – The last meeting of 2022 for the Pontiac Council of Mayors (COM) took place on December 21 at the MRC in Campbell’s Bay. The meeting started with a tribute to Sandra Murry, former mayor of Shawville, who passed away on November 26.
Legal papers issued to two residents
Pat Goyette and Amy Taylor, two local residents, asked why the MRC started a legal action against them for criticism they had published on Facebook and other social media; they insisted they should have freedom of expression. Warden Jane Toller called the issue a legal matter. She added that their criticisms were “harassing, bullying and unacceptable,” with Colleen Jones, the MRC’s communication officer, stating that defamation occurs when criticism becomes a personal attack on integrity and competence. Toller encouraged the two to work with the MRC and act in favour of the region rather than wasting energy on negativity; she also stated she doesn’t think any further legal action will be necessary.
Lynne Cameron, the mayor of Portage-du-Fort, was recognized for her 20 years of service to her community and the MRC. Marie-Josée Corriveau, the local dancer who won the first place in Révolution Dance competition, was unable to attend but was praised for her good effort and for making the Pontiac proud.
It was resolved to adopt the “Teleworking Policy” for MRC employees following negotiations with the union on December 7. Employees can work remotely 2 days per week unless their job requires their presence in the office.
MRC Pontiac received $879,829 from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to compensate for COVID-19 expenses.
The COM made the following resolutions for the use of the funds: FRR Stream 2 reimbursement: $20,000 for funds paid to two non-profits for assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic and $5,000 for a grant to a private company; FRR Stream 2 reimbursement: $18,807 for an overpayment of COVID-19 pandemic assistance, created from this fund; with the remaining balance given in equal parts to the 18 municipalities and the Territories Non Organisés (TNO): $8,110 per municipality.
The mayors also passed a resolution, supporting one submitted by Chichester council, asking the MRC to work with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) to reform how the municipal shares transferred to the MRC are calculated. Many of Pontiac’s municipalities have seen their contribution to the MRC increase substantially with their recent budgets. (Watch for a future article on this subject.)
Economic Development: over $ 2.6 million awarded
The COM approved 27 local projects funded through the first call of the Regions & Rurality Fund (FRR Component 4) to support vitalization and inter-municipal cooperation. A total of $2,622,470 was awarded. A second call for projects is expected in April 2023, and a resolution was passed to allow for more agricultural, forestry and environmental projects.
(See page 6 for the complete list of projects awarded.)
Council also resolved to discontinue the Donations and Sponsorship Program for 2023; in the past this fund was used for small events, with a maximum donation of $500. This could save the MRC $10,000 but will be re-visited next year.
The MRC purchased two artworks titled “Hibou Rouge” by Nikki Buechler and “Pontiac Fiddlers” by Jelly Massee for the MRC Pontiac Collection of Regional Works of Art.
Management of territory
The Ministère des Ressources naturelles et des Forêts (MRNF) will grant new supply guarantees for 2023-2028. Since the MRC has approximately forty percent of the forest in the Outaouais, and many companies in other regions have taken advantage of the opportunity to harvest in the Pontiac, it was resolved that the MRC ask the Minister to ensure that adequate volumes of wood are allocated and reserved for mills located in the Pontiac.
Jane Toller announced that the MRC Pontiac’s Youth Council would return. Its inaugural meeting of 2023 will be held on Monday, January 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the MRC office. The Warden mentioned that there are 22 interested members this term and it is expected to grow to 25. She encouraged students from DWKS in Chapeau and ESSC in Mansfield to apply.