CAMPBELL’S BAY – The first Council of Mayors’ meeting of 2017, January 24 at the MRC building, saw the Pontiac’s 18 mayors discuss closing the MRC’s Laurentian Bank account, Vision 2020’s three-year report, the appointment of four members to the newly formed Fibre Pontiac organization, and the amalgamation of the region’s affordable housing (OMH) boards.
Council unanimously closed the MRC Pontiac’s Laurentian Bank account – if the bank insists on closing both Pontiac branches. “If they commit to maintaining one branch in the region, we will continue our business with them,” said Warden Raymond Durocher.
Biomass project moving forward
Council appointed four of seven directors of the newly formed non-
profit organization “Fibre Pontiac”: local businessman Denis Larivière, Martin Boucher, Director General of the Groupement forestier du Pontiac, Richard Vaillancourt, former Director General of Chichester and L’Isle-aux-Allumettes, and Pierre Vezina, the MRC Pontiac’s consultant to oversee
the Biomass Conversion Centre (BCC) project.
“We’ve maximized what we can do as an MRC, and are now impeding the
project because, as a political body, we cannot apply for funding to advance the file,” said Durocher. Fibre Pontiac’s mandate is to apply for funding and conduct studies and other necessary measures for the region’s biomass project.
Fibre Pontiac will operate independently from the MRC, which is why Regent Dugas, MRC’s Director of Territory, stressed the importance of the four members. “They will be our link to the organization to ensure the project is following the MRC’s best interests,” he said.
Professor Philippe Nolet of the department of Science and Research of the Université du Québec en Outaouais will also join the organization and two
additional members will be nominated by people within the forest industry.
Pellet mill closed, moving
According to Durocher, the MRC has also received word that the Trebio pellet mill, in the Pontiac Industrial Park, will be dismantled and moved to another location following the company’s bankruptcy.
The MRC had pressed to keep the mill’s equipment in the Pontiac since the technology was a planned part of the BCC project, and while Durocher admitted the relocation of the infrastructure is a concern for the BCC, it is not a huge worry.
“We saw the shot coming so we had already come up with a plan B. Now we just have to convince the minister it is feasible,” he reported, without revealing the details of “Plan B”.
Affordable housing merger
The mayors resolved to amalgamate Pontiac’s six affordable housing (OMH) boards to form one regional body. According to Durocher, the MRC was given the option to manage the OMH residences themselves or to have them managed from Gatineau. “We didn’t want to see our citizens managed by Gatineau,” he said, adding that this move simplifies the management and opens up additional avenues for funding.
“We can now identify global priorities and go after the funding we never got. For many years we’ve fallen short of what we could have received,” the Warden noted.
At Council’s request, MRC’s administration presented and published a three-year retrospective report on the MRC’s major projects and accomplishments under the Vision 2020 plan.
The report highlights twenty initiatives impacting the Pontiac’s five key development sectors. Among them were the BCC biomass project, designed to re-launch the region’s forest industry; a near $1 million in loans and grants for local business start-up and development; support for the Pontiac Hops Cooperative to purchase a pelletizer; a partnership with the SADC to offer a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs; and the creation of both a “Heritage Guide” for local municipalities, and a “Pontiac Organization of Seniors and Retirees management table”.
Vision 2020 was adopted in 2010 and updated in 2014. The next update is scheduled for this year.
The next Council of Mayors meeting is February 21.