CAMPBELL’S BAY – The 18 municipal mayors and members of the MRC Pontiac gathered for the regular Council of Mayors (COM) meeting, April 19. The agenda included a discussion about off-road interventions, a letter from Zeco Inc, a request to the government concerning leases, and the forming of a committee to look into expanding the areas where ATVs are permitted (see page 2), among others.
Auditor Janique Ethier presented the financial reports for the 2015 fiscal year: the MRC Pontiac ended with a $164,682 surplus and the TNO with a $11,485 deficit.
Terry Elliott, Mayor of Clarendon, announced his resignation a week prior to the meeting due to health reasons. Elliott was halfway through his first term as mayor after serving as a councillor for 12 years. John Armstrong was appointed pro-mayor and a by-election will be held July 10.
After a lengthy discussion, the Council agreed to sign a contract with Sauvetage Bénévole Outaouais, who will handle off-road emergency interventions in the TNO and MRC Pontiac; the service will be paid for using the TNO’s accumulated surplus given that an estimated 90% of off-road interventions occur in that area.
The organization will recruit volunteers, do an inventory of the equipment available, and purchase any equipment needed. The initial start-up is estimated to cost between $15,000-$25,000 and then $10,000 annually. “The initial fee will cover recruiting volunteers, putting a call system in place, buying the equipment we don’t have, etc.,” said Warden Raymond Durocher, stressing that the MRC currently doesn’t have a plan for off-road interventions or the ability to respond.
However, Terry Murdock, Mayor of Thorne, disagreed with using the TNO surplus to pay the bill and voted against the resolution since the municipalities may
also use the service. He suggested the cost be divided between the 18 municipalities.
Warden Durocher signed a letter addressed to the Quebec government supporting Zeco Inc., which represents several ZEC’s across the province. The organization disapproves of the government’s plan to ban non-residents from hunting deer and moose in the province unless they do so through an outfitter;
similar legislation already exists for black bear. “The decision will have a major impact on the Pontiac`s economy,” said Durocher.
The COM will ask the Ministry of Natural Resources to review the factors that determine the price of leases on Crown land, to take into account the quality of the access roads and the availability of hydro.
The new assessment roll, which took effect April 1, 2016, evaluates one acre of waterfront property at $37,000, an increase of 137% from the previous assessment. However, the MRC believes this is representative of market values for leases with quality access roads that also have access to hydro; it would not apply to all leases.
Other government requests Warden Durocher announced that a letter has been sent to the Minister of Transport, Jacques Daoust, concerning recent funding for the PPJ trail. Daoust announced on April 1 that up to $119,967 would be available for the maintenance of the PPJ trail for the 2015-2016 year, which ended March 30. Due to government cuts, the MRC was forced to significantly cut back the PPJ maintenance budget last year. Since the funding applies retroactively, based on the MRC’s actual PPJ maintenance expenses between April 1, 2015 and March 30, 2016, the Pontiac will only receive about $50,000 of the possible funding. Durocher asked the Ministry to allow the MRC to use the unused balance for maintenance this summer.
The next COM meeting will be held May 17 in the MRC`s new building if
all goes well with the construction process.