MRC meeting – New economic director, draft Strategic Vision adopted


Allyson Beauregard

LITCHFIELD – Hiring Cyndy Phillips as the MRC Pontiac’s new Director of Economic Development (see page 12) and adopting the draft 2020-2030 Strategic Vision were the highlights of the MRC’s Council of Mayors meeting, February 19.
The mayors adopted the draft version of the MRC’s 2020-2030 Strategic Vision. The final version will be adopted in June after 10 public consultations are held across the region in March and April. The document identifies nine themes and addresses the present situation, the future if nothing is done, how we want to develop and how to achieve the goals.
The themes and goals are: quality living environments and local services (stabilize population, welcome newcomers, maintain and create new businesses, maintain schools and hospitals, upgrade infrastructure, offer college programs); sustainable mobility (establish a public transit system and mobility infrastructure, invest in the PPJ and other trails); cultural land planning (inventory cultural heritage; protect and enhance it); climate change, biodiversity and species at risk (reduce emissions, protect nature, adapt to climate change); safety and resilience (reduce vulnerability of communities to natural and anthropogenic constraints, pursue energy-from-waste); agriculture and agritourism (train and support new and existing farmers, encouraging agrifoods and agritourism, promote buying local); tourism development (develop tourism, accommodations, new trails, better urban marketing); entrepreneurship and innovation (create jobs, support current and new entrepreneurs, improve internet, hydro and cell coverage) and forestry (upgrade local plants, focus on new products and markets for pulp and pine lumber, modernize forestry equipment, train workers, community forest).
Other business
Guillaume Lavoie-Harvey, coordinator of the local ski in school program, spoke about the school and community programs, and the second Ski to Parliament expedition. (See pg. 1)
Lynne Lavery from Les Amis du Cyclopark PPJ, detailed the group’s plans this year, including weekly rides in Shawville, Campbell’s Bay and Waltham; a Tap and Cork tour by bike, and an annual long distance race.
She asked for assurance that the debate about allowing ATVs on the trails will be ended, but Mayor Gaston Allard (Fort-Coulonge) said the Multi-use Committee is only in the preliminary phase of their evaluation and much has yet to be examined before making a decision.
The mayors supported Campbell’s Bay’s resolution asking the Ministry of Education, schools and school boards to integrate Firefighter One training into their extracurricular activities to keep youth active plus help with firefighter recruitment.
Phase two of the MRC’s lake characterization project will quantify the nutrient inputs in local lakes. The Observatoire du développement de l’Outaouais will cover the $6,500 cost and results will be included in land use plans.
The Pontiac Hops Cooperative was given $22,205 from the MRC’s Territorial Development Fund (FDT), and a 2015 bylaw stating the MRC would not provide the group any further funding in addition to the $140,000 they contributed for a pelletizer was modified to allow the group to apply for funding like any other organization.
A $50,000 surplus in the FDT fund, which will be lost if not awarded by March 31, was directed to the energy-from-waste project for a feasibility study and research.
Council supported other MRCs in asking the government to review the outdated thresholds of the Engineers Act that require engineering plans for municipal road work over $3,000 and water work over $1,000.
The MRC is applying for a $450,000 grant to improve the PPJ trail between Shawville and Campbell’s Bay by laying more stone dust and ditching. If approved, the MRC is responsible for 20% of the cost. Council approved a proposal from students of École Secondaire Sieur-de-Coulonge (ESSC) to install three bike repair stations along the PPJ through their Equipiste project, which is a collaboration with the La Défriche – Carrefour jeunesse-emploi du Pontiac and ESSC’s Lab Finance. The program will finance the installations, but the MRC must maintain them and add the repair station locations to PPJ maps.
Council provided letters of support for the Pontiac Quad Club to upgrade a 22 km section of trail between Vaillancourt Road and Leslie Park as well as Campbell’s Bay’s application for $120,000 though the province’s sports and leisure fund.
Given the persistent obstetrics service interruptions at the Pontiac Community Hospital, Council unanimously resolved to ask the Minister of Health to find an immediate solution to nursing shortages and award the Pontiac a special status in light of its proximity to Ontario where nurses earn about $20,000 more