Rédacteur / Managing Editor
Rédacteur / Managing Editor
Over the last year, the Pontiac Pool project has appeared in the newspaper repeatedly, from its official inception in June 2017 when Jane Toller (who wasn’t warden at the time) received the Council of Mayors’ unanimous support, and the acquisition of the land in August 2018, to more recently when its location and financial viability were questioned.
Now, Toller has announced she will ask another board member to fill her place as
president of the non-profit Piscine Pontiac Pool group, while she continues to “put a lot of energy” into the project. The news, in part, is an effort to eliminate conflict of interest in her role as warden.
The project’s criticism is a bit hard to understand, given that, as one of the poorest MRCs in Quebec, residents unanimously and consistently agree more infrastructure and investment are needed to both attract new residents and improve the quality of life for those who already live here. Shouldn’t the pool be welcomed news? Why not?
Is it because of the change from 2010’s plans to locate it in Campbell’s Bay? The difference is minimal – 10 minutes. How many Pontiac residents do we know who travel to Renfrew or Pembroke (a 30-minute drive, give or take), just to get a Tim Horton’s coffee, or do their weekly groceries? A quick Google map analysis shows the new location is central between Sheenboro and Bristol (Rapides is difficult to include because residents must travel through Pembroke first) in terms of driving distance.
Isn’t this fair?
Not every amenity can be located in everyone’s backyard, given the MRC Pontiac’s vast territory. Regardless, residents are usually willing to travel to take advantage of the things offered elsewhere: for example, the Shawville Fair draws in people from even the farthest extremities of the Pontiac, often for consecutive days, and hockey parents and fans trek thousands of kilometres per season for home and away games. Why would distance be an issue with the pool?
Is conflict of interest a significant concern in this case? How many MRC Pontiac mayors operate businesses or fill lead positions on volunteer or non-profit committees? With 18 mayors representing 14,000 people, it’s almost inevitable. Is this a problem, or something positive—our elected officials involved in their communities at grassroots levels? No MRC spending is approved single-handedly. Will Toller’s businesses benefit by having the pool nearby? Maybe, but benefits would likely be minimal, far outweighed by the work required.
Is the pool one of the Pontiac’s most desperately needed infrastructures? That’s debatable. Is the project financially viable, including maintenance? It’s impossible to be 100% certain and most project start-ups usually include a bit of hope and a prayer. Do we kick it to the curb or replace it with something less ambitious because of this uncertainty? There’s no denying an indoor pool would be an asset to our communities.
Certainly, one of the Pontiac’s roadblocks to progress and development shouldn’t be ourselves.