MRC meeting EFW questioned, agrifood project in the works, MRC engineering services ended

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Julien Gagnon, fire and public safety coordinator, talks about firefighter training to be offered to ESSC students

Bonnie James
Local Journalism Initiative

 MRC PONTIAC – The MRC Pontiac’s Council of Mayors’ monthly meeting was held August 16 at the MRC head quarters in Litchfield. Sylvie Bertrand, director of TransporAction Pontiac, gave a presentation requesting volunteers from all municipalities. She said volunteering provides a fulfilling opportunity to meet new people and the pay per kilometer has increased with gas prices. Any availability is welcomed. More information: www.transporaction.com.

Energy from Waste questions

 Two residents asked Warden Jane Toller about the Energy from Waste project. Linda Davis of Shawville asked how funds are used on studies, including $50,000 allocated to the Research and Feasibility Study. Toller responded that $30,000 was reallocated to other areas of need and $20,000 remains unspent.

Stephen Weese of Fort-Coulonge asked if the impact of heavy trucks on the region’s roads has been considered. Toller assured him it has. Weese asked if local truckers would be employed to haul the waste, and although Toller didn’t answer the question specifically, she said 800 workers would be needed to build the facility and 50 permanent jobs would be created.

Meeting with Hydro

On September 14, Hydro Quebec will detail the February 2023 power outage that affected West Pontiac at the Harrington Community Centre in L’Isle-aux-Allumettes; what happened, what repairs have been made, and the plan moving forward.

Introducing Agri-Flavour Pontiac

 A new project – Agri-Flavour Pontiac — is in the works to open an agrifood processing operation to give small, local producers access to a commercial kitchen and a place to process and package their products. Producers would share the space, reserving different time slots. Toller said Shawville is a possible location, with a potential collaboration with the Shawville Fair. The project will be funded by the third and fourth streams of the Regions and Rurality Fund. Firefighter training for studentsÉcole secondaire Sieur-de-Coulonge (ESSC) in Mansfield will be offering a 12-18 month firefighter training program to 20 secondary four and five students this year. The program, the first of its kind in Quebec, is a joint initiative of ESSC, MRC Pontiac, and the municipalities of Mansfield and Fort-Coulonge. The MRC hopes the training will increase firefighter candidates in rural areas. Funding is anticipated from the Ministry of Public Security.

End of MRC engineering services

The MRC has notified municipalities of its intent to stop offering engineering services. The engineer position has been vacant since Kim Lesage was appointed director general and clerk-treasurer in February 2023. The position was posted for several months, but no qualified candidates were received.

“Kim cannot physically be our director general and keep up with all the engineering responsibilities…” said Toller. Lesage provided limited engineering services for projects already underway, but the MRC will now provide a list of engineers available by contract to municipalities. It’s uncertain if the MRC will continue to look for an engineer or if the department will be permanently closed.