Twelve Pontiac candidates meet to answer questions

Mo Laidlaw

PONTIAC – Over the course of two ‘all candidates’ meetings, the public had an opportunity to hear opinions from 12 of the 13 people running for councillor in the Municipality of Pontiac. Over 30 citizens were at the Quyon Lions Hall, October 12 for wards 1, 2 and 3, and about 40 members of the public were present in the Luskville Community Centre, October 20 for wards 4, 5 and 6.

Addressing prepared questions from the organizers were, for council seats: Ward 1: Nancy Maxsom, Heather Desabrais; Ward 2: Denis Dubé, Curtis Hudson, Sara-Lynn McCann; Ward 3: Tom Howard, Lindsay Hamilton; Ward 4: James Eggleton, Inès Pontiroli; Ward 5: Pierre Gervais, Brian Middlemiss; Ward 6: William Twolan.

Dr Jean Amyotte, also running in ward 6, contacted later, said he was not aware of the meeting. He wrote: “Considering that I wasn’t contacted by the organizers of this meeting, I decline to answer their questions. For 8 years I’ve defended the interests of the citizens in my ward, and I work for the good of my municipality. I hope that citizens in my ward will renew my mandate on 3 November, so that we can continue to go forward.”
[Considérant que je n'ai pas été contacté par les gens qui ont organisé cette rencontre, je décline de répondre à leurs questions.
Depuis 8 ans, je défend les intérêts des citoyens de mon quartier et je travail pour le bien de ma municipalité.
J'espère que le 3 novembre, les citoyens de mon quartier, renouvelleront mon mandat, afin que nous puissions encore aller de l'avant.]

What are important actions to protect our environment?
Desabrais: Address problem of dumping in ditches. Protect forests and agricultural land. Have proper disposal of hazardous waste.
Dubé: Ensure respect for laws, bylaws; don’t waste drinking water. Inform and educate. Recycling will increase when people know it costs $110 a tonne to dispose of garbage and only $25 for recycling.
Eggleton: Septic systems are a problem in ward 4 because the cottages are close together, there isn’t room for tile beds. We should look into mini sewage treatment plants and encourage composting toilets.
Gervais: Water and air quality have improved over the last 30 years. Laws must not infringe on civil liberties.
Hamilton: Reduce paper usage; inform people as to what is garbage and what can be recycled.
Howard: The municipality receives provincial money because it has lowered its carbon footprint. We need consistent budgets. Alter zoning bylaws to improve recycling and reduce garbage.
Hudson: Have a “toonie tree” day. The municipality provides saplings. Funds improve sports’ fields. More garbage bins on sidewalks in Quyon.
Maxsom: Comply with laws to protect agriculture and water; more green space. Encourage the NCC to open up Gatineau Park to people.
McCann: More recycling; encourage composting (individual, municipal). Continue successful community garden.
Middlemiss: Encourage wind-power, citizen composting and recycling, as it is much cheaper than disposing of garbage.
Pontiroli: Complete the septic sludge treatment plant which will save residents more than 50% of pumping costs. Then we will be in a better position to inspect systems and make sure they are working properly, because people will get their tanks emptied.
Twolan: Tax breaks for solar and wind power. Open the Ecocentre on Wednesdays, composting, encourage farmers to reduce pesticide use. People living alone should not have to empty septic tanks every two years (this is provincial law, not municipal jurisdiction).

How would you support and encourage economic growth in the area?
Desabrais: Promote local business. Create parks.
Dubé: More consultation; municipality has to be a leader. Businesses are dying in Quyon.
Eggleton: Improve the 148. Encourage beautiful places, local parks.
Gervais: Improve the 148. Give tax advantages to new businesses.
Hamilton: Growth is vital to provide more local jobs, so that families want to stay here.
Howard: Give new businesses tax credits and subsidies.
Hudson: Have a farmers’ market.
Maxsom: Promote local business. Help them with zoning issues.
McCann: The new ferry will attract newcomers. Shop local.
Middlemiss: Improve the 148. Develop the west end industrial park and a smaller one in the east end. Bring in restaurants.
Pontiroli: Savour the Pontiac is successful business showcase, has increased to 34 participants in 6 years. Public markets. Work with CLD on introducing brewery.
Twolan: Put an industrial park in the east end on farm land near the Pink/Terry-Fox junction.
(Improving highway 148 (mentioned by three candidates), is the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport. Farm land is also provincial not municipal jurisdiction.)

As a councillor, how will you communicate and inform the community about your decisions?
Desabrais: Newsletters, websites, Action Pontiac, Pontiac Journal, social media, schools, phone.
Dubé: Meetings and bulletins every other month.
Eggleton: Personal blog.
Gervais: Create a website for anonymous suggestions.
Hamilton: A municipal Facebook page, church bulletins, phone.
Howard: Two-way dialog.
Hudson: Email, have a local billboard, suggestion box.
Maxsom: Community meetings.
McCann: A personal council blog, email, phone, information sessions, local newspapers, an online municipal paper.
Middlemiss: Mail.
Pontiroli: The website is in place. Now it needs to be more interactive. We must keep people informed.
Twolan: Listen. Quarterly newsletters

What would be the first thing you would change immediately?
Desabrais: Work to have a seniors’ residence in the area.
Dubé: Have a public consultation before the budget. Improve high speed internet access.
Eggleton: Hold a press conference to say “come here”.
Gervais: Examine the budget, look for savings.
Hamilton: Avoid confrontation, be respectful, work as a team.
Howard: Find out what residents want.
Hudson: Increase police security, have better street lighting, reduce use of drinking water to water lawns, make people accountable for their animals.
Maxsom: Delay eight planning bylaws.
McCann: Enforce laws on animal control, have housing inspections, more police surveillance, fix sidewalks (Quyon).
Middlemiss: Have committees with two councillors and residents.
Pontiroli: Introduce project tracking for ongoing projects, better control of costs. Have a detailed development plan.
Twolan: Decrease time to get a building permit.