MRC meeting

Youth Council President Léa Gagnon gives her first report to the Council of Mayors as Warden Jane Toller looks on, February 21.

Bonnie James
Local Journalism Initiative

MRC PONTIAC – The MRC Pontiac’s Council of Mayors’ monthly meeting was held February 21 at the MRC headquarters in Litchfield.

EFW business plan
Two residents attended the meeting to ask questions about the Energy From Waste (EFW) project. Judith Spence of Clarendon, representing Citizens of the Pontiac, asked if any of the mayors would “put forward a motion to put the incinerator matter on hold” for consideration of other options and to gather public input. The mayors did not immediately respond, but MRC Warden Jane Toller said that she is working on waste solutions with the Conférence des Préfets de l’Outaouais (CPO).

Christine Anderson of Thorne, representing Friends of the Pontiac, asked when the EFW
business plan would be finalized, approved, and made public. Toller replied that the initial business plan draft would be presented to council by the Deloitte and Ramboll companies in a special working session of the mayors on February 27. She said that if no changes are required, the mayors will vote on accepting the plan in March.

Toller stressed that the initial plan is “high level and not super detailed.” She said that the consultants have proposed following up with a more extensive business plan. She added that if the plan will depend on waste from other municipalities, that those municipalities will be expected to contribute to the cost of the business plan.

Help wanted
Council moved to launch calls for candidates for the positions of Deputy Director General and Engineer. Two previous postings of the engineer position did not yield any qualified candidates, resulting in the MRC announcing its intention to end its service agreement with the municipalities last August. After several mayors expressed concern, council decided to continue the search for an engineer, moving to post the position once again.

Council formally requested by resolution that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) relocate the site of the future Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) to a location farther away from the Ottawa River, stating that the current site is less than a kilometer from the river and upstream from MRC Pontiac. This is Council’s second resolution requesting that the site be moved away from the river.

The resolution also states that the approval of the NSDF contravenes the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and council reiterates its support for the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg and Kebaowek First Nations.

Toller opened the floor for the mayors to share their thoughts on the approval of the NSDF. Almost all the mayors said that the site is too close to the river. Portage-du-Fort Mayor Lynn Cameron said that when she toured the proposed site, she noticed that you could see the river: “It’s obviously too close.” “Once you pollute the river, it’s done forever.” said Thorne Councillor Robert Wills. Otter Lake Mayor Terry Lafleur said that he wants a guarantee that the facility will last as long as the toxins do. Shawville Mayor Bill McCleary said that he hopes MP Sophie Chatel will “listen to the wishes of the people rather than the wishes of her leader.”

Plenary meetings
Mayor McCleary tabled a motion to open discussions regarding making the council’s plenary meetings public. The private plenary meetings are held monthly for the mayors to discuss policy ahead of the public sitting of Council, where the resulting motions are voted on. Both citizens and local media have asked that the plenary sessions be made public in the interest of increasing transparency and insight into the decisions made by Council.

The motion to discuss was passed unanimously, with a final vote on the matter to be held at the March public sitting.

The next Council of Mayors meeting will be held March 20.