MRC meeting – Special guests, funding announcements


Allyson Beauregard

MRC PONTIAC – The region’s 18 mayors had a full agenda at the Council of Mayors (CoM) meeting on May 19 via ZOOM.
For the Unorganized Territory (TNO), an agreement was signed with Mansfield to maintain Jim’s Lake Road from kilometer 18 to 40 and the contract to build the TNO garage beside the MRC headquarters was awarded to GreenHill GP for $98,850.
Special guests
Pontiac MNA André Fortin joined to explain the CAQ government’s Bill 96, which aims to strengthen Bill 101, Québec’s Charter of the French Language. Proposed changes include stripping municipalities of their bilingual status if less than 50% of residents are Anglophone unless municipalities pass resolutions to keep it, requiring small businesses with more than 26 employees to adhere to Bill 101’s provisions, and capping the number of Francophones who can attend English colleges.
Warden Jane Toller put forward a resolution reiterating the importance of the region’s municipalities keeping bilingual status, but after some debate, the mayors decided to first send it to municipalities to discuss with their council before the next plenary meeting. 
Xavier Lusignan was recognized for his sporting excellence in weightlifting which has landed him a spot in the Pan-American games competition in Colombia this June.
Marc Soulière was given a certificate of recognition for his “devotion andpassionate efforts to protect the Lac Dumont sector.”
COVID response
Toller noted that the Pontiac lags behind the rest of the Outaouais with a 61% vaccination rate. L’Isle-aux-Allumettes, Portage and Waltham residents are the least vaccinated so CISSSO, the region’s health authority, is considering organizing mobile vaccination teams to deploy to these areas.
In April, the MRC Pontiac received $879,829 from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MAMH) to compensate municipalities for financial losses and expenses related to the pandemic. The funds are intended to help regions develop digital infrastructure, but a portion can be used to help businesses or organizations particularly affected.  
As a result, the CoM unanimously decided to support the region’s various summer day camps: Le Patro – $13K,  Le Jardin Éducatif du Pontiac – $20K,  La Maison des Jeunes in Rapides-des-Joachims – $8K, Municipality of Alleyn-et-Cawood – $20K, Shawville RA – $20K, Chapeau RA – $20K, and the Norway Bay Municipal Association – $3K.
Funds awarded
The Pontiac Artists’ Association (PAA) was given $500 to buy an air conditioner for the Upper Gallery of the Stone School in Portage.
The recipients of the first call for projects of the MRC’s Creative Development Fund were announced: Maxime Galand to host a concert at Café Downtown in Fort-Coulonge – $750; PAA to host three exhibition evenings – $750; Phillip Smith to buy a compressor to create a work for an exhibition at the 2021 Canadian Sculptors Festival in Ottawa – $750; and $250 to the PAA through the pandemic aid for centers and galleries stream. Another call for projects will be launched in the fall.
The MRC will provide financial aid to Campbell’s Bay to install a washroom near the municipal park that will be shared with PPJ users. The total cost is about
$80K and Kim Lesage, MRC engineer, will determine how much the MRC will chip in. Mayor Winston Sunstrum (L’Isle-aux-Allumettes)
suggested the money be taken from the PPJ budget, and everyone agreed.
Fire and safety
The Sûreté du Québec will be asked to increase its budget for water patrol and prevention activities on the Ottawa River due to increased traffic.
A notice of motion was given for a draft fire prevention bylaw. According to Julien Gagnon, MRC fire safety coordinator, the former bylaw was changed to reflect regional differences and includes standardized rules for open fires across the entire territory to prevent confusion. A final version will be adopted at a future meeting.
The CoM will ask Transport Canada to install speed buoys on the Ottawa River for safety and to prevent shoreline erosion. The mayors also supported a resolution from Chichester asking that the original number of buoys be reinstalled between Chichester and the Culbute Locks because there are many rocks in the area. 
New projects
The CoM decided to adopt ‘entrepreneurship’ as their ‘Signature Innovation’ in the framework of Stream 3 of the Regions and Rurality Fund (FRR); it will receive $1.4 million over five years to realize a project targeting this topic. As a result, the MRC must submit a detailed description of the project (objectives, fields of intervention, steps planned, etc.) to MAMH and contracted Visages Regionaux to define the project for $50,301. The FRR “Signature Innovation” component aims to allow MRCs to carry out a concrete and innovative project to develop or acquire a strong territorial identity based on its development vision.
In November 2020, the province announced the creation of Accès entreprise Québec to strengthen services offered to entrepreneurs and businesses in all regions of Québec. The MRC Pontiac will receive $900,000, (with $300,000 over three years )
to hire resources, develop intervention tools, etc. However, the entire $300K must be spent each year or it has to be returned. The CoM asked the government to relax the rules so the money can be spent over the entire term.  
The MRC re-launched the Ottawa River Waterways website on May 28, which includes new pictures, a map of the river, an online booking service for boat
lifting, and more.
A notice of motion was given to amend the MRC’s recreational camping bylaw to discriminate between tent and trailer camping.  
Other business
Council refinanced $159,300 that was borrowed for the renovation of the MRC headquarters in 2016. Mayor Maurice Beauregard (Campbell’s Bay) suggested it be taken from the accumulated surplus to save interest, which will be investigated.
Council renewed the temporary suspension of activities in areas inconsistent with mining for another six months to prevent new mining claims while land
use and development plans are revised. 
The next CoM meeting is June 16.