Pontiac council report – confrontation where cooperation is required

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Mo Laidlaw

PONTIAC – Over 100 people crowded the community centre in Luskville for the regular council meeting, March 11. The Waterfront Revitalization Committee (WRC) had invited citizens to “voice your disapproval of the position of the current council and demand they listen to the people” regarding the proposed new community centre in Quyon.

Mo Laidlaw

PONTIAC – Over 100 people crowded the community centre in Luskville for the regular council meeting, March 11. The Waterfront Revitalization Committee (WRC) had invited citizens to “voice your disapproval of the position of the current council and demand they listen to the people” regarding the proposed new community centre in Quyon.
Mayor Roger Larose stated the municipality’s position, backed up by copies of relevant documents. “It’s not council that is against the project. The infrastructure grant has been turned down by Municipal affairs       (MAMROT).”
Letters from the Programme d’infastructures Québec – Municipalités du MAMROT were presented. One dated May 10, 2013 stated “in order to increase equity and transparency in evaluation and selection of projects … a new stage had been created for community centres … Your file was transferred to this new stage, but wasn’t high enough priority to receive financial help. However, your request will remain active for the next period in the fall.”
The second letter dated October 25, 2013 said, “Your project is judged admissible but not high enough priority. Your request is closed. We will evaluate a new request for your project if it includes new elements that will   substantially improve it.”
Larose suggested apparent discrepancies between the application and response from MAMROT as reasons for the grant being turned down. The original budget was for $1.8 million to construct the building, with additional amounts for kitchen and bar equipment, tables and chairs, and professional fees, bringing the total to over $2 million. The first letter stated $1.2 million and the second $1,492,750 as the potential grant. (The maximum grant is 75% for infrastructure, which does not include equipment.)
Larose said the municipality should start from scratch and determine exactly what is required by surveying residents. “We’ll have a meeting, then a survey and finally make decisions. We have to ‘improve’ our request.” Glen Leach, on behalf of the WRC, asked, “Why do we need a new study and why is there no councillor on the WRC?,” while threatening to withdraw the $111,000 in the escrow account. 
Bernard Marquis described how the community was losing the dream of building a new community centre. “We’re going to build this,” replied Larose.  “If we’re going to build something we have to do it right. There is a commitment from council to build it.”
In the public input period at the end of the meeting, Sheila McCrindle said she was still confused and that many were unclear about the community centre file, suggesting Larose address the concerns, and clarify the issue on paper. Joan Belsher reinforced this position. We have to work together, forget the past and work more positively for the future.”
Jean-Claude Carisse said he was disappointed all the discussions were in English. Councillor Amyotte agreed and said that to get support for the project, it’s important to reach both English and French speakers.