CAMPBELL’S BAY – The 18 mayors of the MRC Pontiac attended a Council of Mayors meeting, October 29. On the agenda was a discussion regarding the Lac Dumont file, a request to amend a zoning by-law that would allow a local outfitter to build a commercial camp at Lac Papin, and a request concerning marketing the Upper Pontiac, among other items (see page 8 for MRC budget news).
At August’s meeting, mayors discussed a recurring public security and environmental problem at Lac Dumont and decided to investigate the issue further to develop permanent solutions; this was in response to a proposed resolution to close the road leading to the lake.
Regent Dugas, MRC Pontiac Director of Territory, suggested creating a committee of mayors to respond to the situation, to work with those wanting to manage the area and to find a long-term solution to the issues, in the next few months. An individual, who had previously expressed interest in managing the site has been approached with a lease proposal; a response is expected in the near future.
After discussing the issue in August, a delegation of mayors visited the location to investigate the situation. “We thought the site would be disastrous, but it wasn’t. There wasn’t much garbage – one large bag would have taken care of what was there,” said Bill Stewart, Campbell’s Bay mayor. Clarendon Mayor, Terry Elliott, said it was the first time he had been to Lac Dumont and confirmed the garbage was not excessive. “The location is a major resource for this part of the country,” he added.
Terry Murdock, mayor of Thorne, agreed the problem was not major. “There was some ecological damage on the beach because it had been used as a race track and some homemade outhouses that would have to be removed, but it isn’t something that can’t be fixed.”
After much discussion, it was agreed that a committee would be formed with Graham Hawley, mayor of Otter Lake, Stewart, Murdock, Elliott, and Kathy Belec, mayor of Mansfield, as members.
Dugas also introduced a request for an amendment to modify the zoning bylaw for Zone 501 in the TNO to allow a local outfitter to build a commercial lodging facility to rent out to hunters and fishermen at Lac Pepin; since 2010, it is not possible to obtain a lease in this area.
Doris Ranger, Mayor of Sheenboro, expressed concern whether the lease would allow the outfitter to have exclusive rights to the area and how this could affect other outfitters. “Isn’t this like putting two Walmarts side by side? There are a lot of other outfitters in the area trying to make a living,” she said.
“It’s not up to us to regulate competition,” said Winston Sunstrum, L’Isle-aux-Allumettes mayor. “We need to look at the future of the TNO on an economic level and govern the area in the best interests of the Pontiac. We need to decide whether to develop it or not,” he concluded.
According to Dugas, the lease would only apply to a one-acre lot for the cabin and would not limit the public’s right to use the lake. “Issuing the lease would not open the door for obtaining exclusive rights for the area, either,” said Remi Bertrand, MRC Pontiac Executive Director. “There is a full process to obtain exclusive rights, which involves consulting the National Assembly,” he added.
Hawley expressed concern that allowing leases to be issued would give the Ministry of Natural Resources the power to issue other leases in the area without the MRC Pontiac’s permission. “The MRC would be consulted for advice before commercial leases are given,” said Dugas, without explaining what weight the advice would be given.
Stewart asked if they could only issue leases for a small area surrounding Lac Pepin rather than opening up the entire zone 501 to leases. Bertrand explained it could be done, but given that they are being asked to act now, the entire area would have to be opened.
Lynne Cameron, Portage-du-Fort mayor, made a notice of motion to discuss the issue further. “We aren’t making a decision, we are just saying we are going to discuss the issue. It forces us to examine and evolve the file by putting something forward and voting on it,” concluded Raymond Durocher, MRC Pontiac Warden.
Marketing Upper Pontiac
Sunstrum then des-cribed the Rue Principale program implemented in the municipalities of L’Isle-aux-Allumettes and Chichester to revitalize the communities; he explained they are going into their second year and will be required to develop a marketing plan. He invited Waltham, Sheenboro, and the TNO to join with them, so a plan for marketing the entire Upper Pontiac could be created.
Through the program, the municipalities have hosted a real estate business fair, a bus tour of the area, and business breakfasts.
The next Council of Mayors meeting is November 26.