Now, about that pool …

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Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

It’s almost a pastime for us to speculate on what would get Pontiac’s economy actually growing (even a little), creating jobs and opportunities for local

Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

It’s almost a pastime for us to speculate on what would get Pontiac’s economy actually growing (even a little), creating jobs and opportunities for local
entrepreneurs right here, not down the highway or across the river.  Nothing special; most rural communities feel ignored (even exploited) by the higher governments, us, by the health quagmire/bureaucracy in Gatineau, plus provincial and federal regimes with their glorious multiplicity of branches and divisions.
Not the talking, but the doing, may be beyond our resources.  Without aggressive representation in the capitals, our low population and lack of spectacular resources (oil, rare-earths) limit us locally to speculation and not much else.  These problems feed one another – it’s difficult for our leaders and deputies to get government attention shifted here with our small population (size of a few Montreal blocks) and with our resources so uninviting to Kinder Morgan and other multinationals who, apparently, rule us.
What we do have some control over are our own livelihoods at either end of the demographics – kids/youth and seniors. We can’t do much about seriously-neglected infrastructure, but we can help improve our schools and make our
communities more seniors-friendly (e.g., the Lions’ “green bottle” program, the Shaw and Residence Meilleur projects).
There are limits, of course. We can’t build a new international school, or even a CEGEP, or create a public transit system out of thin air, our most common resource. We do need our reps to roll up their sleeves and look our way, not only toward the politicians above them – and the best, most shining example of such initiatives would be a municipal pool.  Full-function, from swimming lessons for tots to hydro-therapy for older folks, with the schools and regular folks in between. This would give us cause to celebrate, not berate, our elected leaders. Their attitude that maintenance alone is a significant accomplishment is sure not impressive – pavement on 148, maintaining the covered bridge, offering public meetings or a new staircase somewhere. The pool would be, finally, beyond maintenance.
A Pontiac-wide pool is MRC Warden Jane Toller’s big ambition, and we ought to give her all our support on this. Where it is located is least important; its full-
functionality is the issue. Functionality includes transportation there and back, as well as the gamut of recreo-services for all age groups. 
It seems that an alliance of all our forces is required – not only our government reps and those bureaucrats/ big shots who honour us with an occasional visit, but our own economic forces too.
That doesn’t mean hitting up our shops and local
businesses, again. They already provide so much support for so many of our community efforts, it’s time for the big players to push back from the national
banquet, stand up, and really help. No doubt, Warden Toller is already working on just such an alliance of supporters. She understands the business of politics, and knows how projects are achieved.
As for Big Business, like a cannabis factory-farm or even a radioactive dump, they must be made aware that the old Canadian tune of “just give us a few jobs and you can do what you want” is getting thin. Market forces are what give us jobs, not the goodwill of millionaires or Kinder Morgan’s millionaires-in-training (cabinet ministers).
The point for us, ordinary citizens, is to talk up population-attracting projects like
a pool complex, give the warden the support she needs (let our mayors know!), and shift our focus to improving the start and the end of life services for our people. Better educated and psychologically healthy youths will benefit every single Pontiac resident in a million ways, and an influx of retirees and seniors
supporting pubic services will boost our economy as much as a lumber mill searching for what’s left of our forests.  We already have a foot up with our excellent, though wounded, hospital and CLSC health services, our public security and fire safety, our bilinguality, low real-estate prices and taxes, our recreational plans and options, libraries and clubs, all attractive to retirees bringing their pensions, investments, and life-experience. A municipal pool would tie it all together.
Pontiac’s future is bright — if we all commit to aid that future.