Municipalities aim to revitalize

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Peter L. Smith

Peter L. Smith

L’ISLE-AUX-ALLUMETTES & CHICHESTER – An information meeting geared towards revitalizing and developing the municipalities of L’Isle-aux-Allumettes and Chichester was held, November 27, at Harrington Community Centre with about 35 business people, municipal representatives and officials from Fondation Rues Principale and the MRC. The municipalities have enrolled in Fondation Rues Principale, a non-profit organization aimed at revitalizing and developing local municipalities, with Natalie Demers (right) from the MRC Pontiac as the project   coordinator.
Jean–Yves Bernard (photo center), Project Coordinator for Fondation Rues Principales, and co-worker Pierre Oliver Morisot (left), toured the municipalities prior to the presentation and were impressed with what the area had to offer in terms of natural beauty, tourism and small businesses.
A three year plan will be implemented to revitalize and promote economic development in the municipalities. Chichester Mayor, Donald Gagnon, and L’Isle-aux-Allumettes Mayor, Winston Sunstrum, stressed  how the region has many strengths, which include: its natural resources, recreation (Upper Pontiac Sports Complex), natural beauty, accessibility, transportation, niche products (bakeries, post offices, banks, jam production), greenhouses, hops production, and more. Bilingual services and communication was stressed as an asset as well as the local CLSC, Ambulance service, Picabou Daycare, Municipal Office, Dr. Wilbert Keon School and École Notre Dame du Sacre Coeur, the Caisse populaire and the West Pontiac Connects computer centre. The Culbute Museum in Chichester was deemed an excellent tourist attraction alongside access to the Ottawa River and docking services. 
It was stressed that more focus needs to be given to improved signage, property clean up (Adopt A Road programs) and marketing. Once an action plan concerning the projects that the municipalities wish to implement is devised, the municipalities can apply for funding. Some identified projects were a Farmer’s Market, Music in the Park evenings, and a Butcher Shop. The next step for Rues Principales is to identify 4 or 5 visible initiatives to implement in the next 6 months.
The two municipalities are also discussing their ideas with Rapides des Joachims, Waltham and Sheenboro. Funding is available for the municipalities for specific projects. Sunstrum noted, “CLD and SADC loans and grants range from $500 to $50,000 depending on the size of the project, and if the project meets the criteria of the fund. Economic Development Canada and Investment Quebec loans are for much larger amounts, again if the project meets the criteria.”
Committee members are Derek Bertrand (DC Bar and Restaurant), Shelley Conroy ( Conroy’s Grocery), Annette Dagenais (River Club Restaurant), Brian Dubeau (Épicerie Dubeau Grocery), Colleen Fleming (Northfork Country Kitchen), Nicolas Greco (El Camino Farm), and Roger St-Cyr (Ferme Roger St-Cyr/ Outaouais Agroconsultants Inc).
The feedback from interviews, focus groups, and a public meeting was discussed at another committee meeting, November 28, with another meeting being held, December 10, for the committee to select a course of action for the next 6 months.