Vision 2030 adopted – MRC gets heated over border closures and hiring forestry consultant

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Allyson Beauregard

MRC PONTIAC – Tension and discord returned to the Council of Mayors (CoM) table during the monthly meeting, held June 16 via ZOOM, when it came to discussing the recently lifted border closures and hiring a consultant to work on the MRC’s strategic forestry action plan (see page 8).
Warden Jane Toller noted the borders with Ontario were ‘opened’ that day, stressing the serious impact it had on residents, especially those in the Upper Pontiac. She suggested a follow-up letter be sent to Ontario’s Premier about “how it felt” for local residents.
“I’m totally disgusted with those police check points…and I’m not happy with your role in this. This goes back to March 2020 when you called publically for the closure of the border and it has carried on ever since,” said Mayor Winston Sunstrum (L’Isle-aux-Allumettes) in response to Toller’s comments. Toller said she supported the closure last year because it was a different circumstance. She will follow-up with the Ontario Premier “on behalf of the Pontiac,” she said.
  TNO
The mayors passed a resolution to allow residents or lease holders of the TNO who are 70 years and older to vote in November’s municipal election via mail. 
Brian Stanton Ltee. was hired to create the entrance for the TNO garage beside the MRC’s headquarters for $9,720.
The MRC will partner with ZEC Saint Patrice to build a 310 metre road to bypass a closed bridge for a maximum of $8,000; it will give access to Dunn and Raymond lakes, among others, said Jason Durand, director of territory. They will also partner with the Colton, Bertrand and Wright Lake Association to clean and dig ditches along 18 km of Wright Lake Road to a maximum of $8,000.  
Presentations
Mathias Peloquin from Visages Regionaux, the firm hired to help the MRC complete Vision2030, provided an outline of the plan and how it came to be. The final plan was later adopted unanimously.
Auditor Simon Thibault presented the MRC’s 2020 audited financial statements, which showed a $530,871 surplus due to additional grants and reduced costs for human resources and travelling due to COVID. The accumulated surplus sits at $1,178,810.
Human resources and committees
Leen Matthyseen was hired as a human resources advisor and will begin work in August.
A waste management committee will be created with a representative from all 18 municipalities and MRC staff to explore regional issues and solutions.
Funding and projects
The MRC will launch a call for development projects through Stream 2 of the provincial Regions and Rurality Fund on August 15; $416, 632 of the total $1,546,805 provided to the MRC will be available. The rest is used for regional management and pre-committed projects like the PPJ.
Using money received from the province for COVID aid, the MRC will direct about $50,000 to help local libraries, $43,325 to buy IT equipment and supplies, and $180 for three recycling bins for disposable masks to have at the entrances to the MRC building.
Touriscope was contracted for professional services to do a pre-feasibility study for the national park project using a $40,000 grant obtained from the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation (MAMH).
L’Association des marches publiques du Québec was awarded the contract to do a location study for a Pontiac farmers’ market.
The CoM requested the Ministry of Transport reopen the file concerning the
construction of a highway between Quyon and Masson to bypass the main urban
centers from the north given the recent announcement of $212 million over the next two years for the Outaouais’ road network. This plan dates back to the 1970s.
About $70,000 will be spent for gravel re-surfacing and ditching along the PPJ trail between Clarendon and Campbell’s Bay this year. The MRC also adopted an advertising policy for local merchants who want to place signs along the trail.    
Other business
The mayors passed a resolution in honour of the 215 children found in an unmarked burial site of a former residential school in Kamloops, BC and requested that the government search all other former sites.
The CoM resolved to keep the region’s bilingual status in light of Bill 96, which
if passed, will strip municipalities of their bilingual status if less than 50% of their
population is Anglophone. Municipalities can pass resolutions to maintain the status. 
A new MRC fire prevention bylaw was adopted, which includes standardized rules for open fires as well as a requirement that residences located more than eight km from a fire station have a portable fire extinguisher.
An updated recreational camping bylaw was adopted with modifications to differentiate between camping in a tent and a trailer.
The next CoM meeting will be held August 18.