MRC meeting Lease increases, and universal suffrage for the Warden’s position

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Allyson Beauregard

CAMPBELL’S BAY – The 18 Pontiac mayors and members of the MRC Pontiac gathered for the regular Council of Mayors meeting, February 16.

Allyson Beauregard

CAMPBELL’S BAY – The 18 Pontiac mayors and members of the MRC Pontiac gathered for the regular Council of Mayors meeting, February 16.
Over ten members of the public attended the meeting to express their discontent with the 167% increase in crown land leases that will take place over the next five years. Ile-du-Grand-Calumet resident Roland Normandeau spoke for the group and asked why the public was not consulted when the MRC took overresponsibility for managing the leases from the government, and why they assume 100% of the administrative costs of managing the land while only receiving 50% of the lease profits.
“The 50-50 split was a condition the government applied. It wasn’t a negotiation; it was imposed when we agreed to take over managing the leases. We did it because we knew we could generate revenue to be used to fund projects in those areas,” said Warden and Mayor of Fort-Coulonge Raymond Durocher, indicating that a small surplus is accumulated every year which is used to maintain roads, etc. According to Regent Dugas, MRC Pontiac Director of Territory, the Pontiac’s increase is average compared to other MRCs. Durocher ended
the discussion by saying complaints can be made through the Ministry of Natural Resources’ website; he also encouraged complainants to send the MRC Pontiac a hard copy for their records.
Mark Killoran from the Thorne Lake Property Association briefed the Council on a request the Association has made to rezone the Thorne Lake area for solely residential use to prevent a commercial campground from being established. “It’s a major concern for property owners mainly due to environmental and public safety concerns,” he explained. Before the zoning can be changed, the amendment must first be approved by the Council of Mayors.
Durocher highlighted some concerns that have come up in the Biomass Conversion Centre file. “Since we went public with the project, other MRCs have been looking into the idea. I am still very hopeful and am not afraid. We just might have to change some aspects of the project,” he said.
Two resolutions were made to proceed with job postings for the MRC Pontiac Assistant Director General position as well as the Land Use Planner following Pierre Duchesne’s resignation.
The meeting concluded with a lengthy debate regarding electing the Warden via “universal suffrage”, whereby all Pontiac registered voters, not just the Council of Mayors, would be eligible to participate in the process. The Council must make a decision on the issue before May 2017. While some mayors saw universal
suffrage as beneficial since a full-time warden would be free to focus entirely on MRC affairs and public outreach, others believe the election and the mandated salary increase – about double what the Warden receives now – would be too costly for the MRC Pontiac.
Warden Durocher agreed to gather additional information for the mayors to review before making a final decision. “I can’t really decide if I am for or against it at this point without receiving additional information,” added Doris Ranger, Sheenboro Mayor.
The next Council of Mayors meeting will be held March 15.