MRC PONTIAC – MRC Pontiac Warden Jane Toller met with Pierre Dufour, provincial Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, January 29, to discuss the revival of the region’s forestry industry and projects the MRC has proposed. Regent Dugas, MRC Director of Territory, and Danielle Newman, MRC Director of Economic Development, also attended the meeting in Gatineau, which lasted about an hour.
The invitation to meet with Dufour was received about three days after the MRC sent a resolution asking the government to award a special status for forestry in the Pontiac. Overall, the warden believes the meeting went very well and the Minister was receptive to the MRC’s plans and ideas. Among other things, the group spoke about opening a forestry school, establishing a community forest, and the urgent need for government attention.
“The Pontiac has always had 40% of the resources in the Outaouais, so we are important for forestry. Although our mills closed in the last ten years, we’ve received no money from the government and the only thing that has happened is our wood has been shipped out to other places,” Toller explained.
“We went there with solutions,” she added. The group presented the Biomass Conversion Centre and reopening of local mills as an answer to a large, Québec-wide problem: an abundance of pulp and biomass (60% of what’s removed from forests) and not enough places accepting the products.
“Thurso and Temiscaming, the two big mills accepting pulp and biomass, are 300 km apart while the Pontiac is in the middle. So if they want to reduce trucking distances, save money on subsidies, and reduce carbon footprints, why not bring it to the Pontiac?,” said Toller, noting the Minister agreed Québec needs a
solution to the problem and that the provincial government’s current management of the forestry industry is not working.
Toller said she is following up with the Minister by providing him with additional information, but another meeting has not been scheduled.