Remembering Doug Rousselle; rowdy cottage rentals; Ottawa River water levels study

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Bonnie James
Local Journalism Initiative

MRC PONTIAC – The MRC Pontiac’s Council of Mayors’ monthly meeting was held September 20 at the MRC headquarters in Litchfield.

With the MRC flag flying at half-mast, the meeting opened with remembrance for late Rapides-des-Joachims mayor, Doug Rousselle, who passed away September 11 after battling esophageal cancer. Rousselle’s wife Joanne joined the council meeting via video call as each mayor shared how they had been impacted by Rousselle. In an emotional tribute, the mayors spoke of Rousselle as a kind, dedicated family man, who even through his illness, never missed a meeting. Rapides councillor Stephany Rauche read a message from Director General Alana Bowes and a moment of silence was observed.

Rousselle’s passing left three vacancies on MRC committees. Mayor Raymond Pilon of Campbell’s Bay will fill the spot on the Public Safety Committee and Stephany Rauche will take the seats on the Flood Prevention Task Force and Waterway Committee.

MRC Warden Jane Toller said she expects a quick by-election for Rapides, likely in October.

Rowdy cottage rentals
John and Melodie Mortensen were present for the public question period to ask council if bylaws surrounding short-term rental properties are being harmonized. The couple own a cottage on Hahn Lake in Otter Lake and say the quiet lake has been plagued by the antics of rowdy cottage renters for the past three years. Hahn Lake has eight full-time residents, 34 seasonal cottages, and one short-term rental cottage. The cottage is listed on Airbnb as well as other vacation rental sites. Mrs. Mortensen said the issues with the rental cottage include noise, trash, trespassing, and destruction of property (trees cut along waterfront).

Warden Toller responded that while no harmonized bylaws are in the works, existing bylaws should be enforced to manage the problems. She promised to table the issue at the October plenary meeting, stating “it’s about being a good neighbour”.

Compost
The MRC Waste Management Committee heard a presentation by Uteau concerning receiving organic waste. Shawville Councillor Richard Armitage, a member of the Committee, told council that Uteau’s tipping fees would cost substantially less than what they’re currently paying to ship organics to Thurso. Armitage said the Committee is still looking at different options for picking up compost throughout the MRC.

Art and sport
Council launched its annual regional art collection Call for Artists, open from October 4 – November 10 to acquire a new piece for the MRC building. An analysis committee will review submissions and the recommended piece will be presented to council in December.

The MRC is donating $1,500 to Pontiac High School to fund a regional hockey tournament to be held in Shawville.

Ottawa River water levels
Council moved to support the City of Clarence-Rockland in its petition to Canada’s Public Safety Minister requesting a comprehensive study of Ottawa River water levels. The resolution states the spring thaw has been unstable for the past seven years due to climate change and development in the river basin. Major flooding occurred in 2017, 2019, and 2023, impacting numerous residents and municipalities. Clarence-Rockland is leading the interprovincial initiative to ask the federal government for support in finding solutions to water level management. Council also requested that a cross-border consultation board be created, representing the supporting municipalities. The board would oversee the scope of the work of the study and provide input into proposed implementation options.