Candidates meeting in Quyon
The seven candidates for wards 1, 2 and 3 in the municipality of Pontiac, together with the two mayoral candidates, attended the packed Lions Club Hall in Quyon on 12 October 2013. Over 30 members of the public were present. Greg Fergus, an Aylmer resident, was the moderator. Each candidate had five minutes for an opening statement and then two minutes to answer four questions that they had seen beforehand. Finally there were questions from the floor.
Ward 1. (Onslow north of 5th Concession, and extending east north of route 148 to the junction with ch Lebrun in Luskville.) Candidates: Nancy Draper Maxsom and Heather Desabrais.
Ms Maxsom stood out as one of the few candidates who regularly attends and takes part in council meetings. She was raised on a farm, spent 37 years in the federal government, and owns a small business. Now retired, she can devote full-time to being a councillor. She would like to bring the ideas and views of residents to the future council. She admitted that she is not comfortable in French, but she was one of the few to speak some French at the meeting.
Ms Desabrais considers herself first a wife and mother. She runs a home-based daycare for nine children, with one employee. She has been president of Quyon sports and recreation, and after fundraising, many improvements were made during her tenure, such as lights, a skating rink and a play structure.
Ward 2. (The village of Quyon). Candidates: Denis Dubé, Curtis Hudson and Sara-Lynn McCann.
Mr Dubé moved here in 2008 when he retired from restaurant management. He now has a woodworking shop. He attends council meetings and has been a member of the planning committee (CCU) for 2 years. His priorities are the Quyon community centre, enlarging Ferry road to cope with larger and more vehicles using the new ferry, and repairing leaks in the drinking water system. He is francophone, but spoke in English.
Mr Hudson was raised in Quyon and is raising his family here. He has been on the Quyon Canada Day committee for 11 years. His focus is Quyon, and events in the town. Hed like to enhance pride and commitment of residents, and listen to their concerns. His slogan is Keep roots alive.
Ms McCann studied at Heritage College. She runs a home-based daycare with one employee. She has children at both schools in Quyon, and sits on both parents committees. She is president of the Quyon family centre, involved in youth activities, and a coordinator for the National Capital Amateur Football Association.
Ward 3. (Onslow south of 5th concession, and Luskville north of ch de la Baie and south of route 148, extending east to the junction with ch Lebrun). Candidates: Tom Howard and Lindsay Hamilton.
Mr Howard is running again for the council seat he won in a by-election in March 2012. He has lived 44 years in the municipality, spent 17 years as fire chief before becoming a councillor, and is now retired from the Bank of Canada. He continues to be a volunteer with the Pontiac fire department. His priority is teamwork, and growth is important.
Ms Hamilton is part-owner of her familys business in South Onslow, concentrating on inventory, human resources and problem solving. She studied agronomics at Guelph university. She is interested in politics at all levels and is vice president of the Pontiac Liberal Association. She is on the Quyon Canada Day committee, organizes the Christmas house tour (a church fund raiser). She is not for or against the controversial advisory committee (MPAC), but is for people and her area.
What are important actions to protect our environment?
Hudson: Have a toonie tree day. The municipality provides saplings. Money raised goes to improve sports fields. Also have more garbage bins on sidewalks in Quyon.
Dubé: Ensure that laws and bylaws are respected. Inform and educate: if residents know that it costs $110 a ton to dispose of garbage and only $25 for recycling, recycling will increase. Dont waste drinking water.
Ms McCann: We need more recycling, and should encourage composting, both individual and municipal. The community garden is a great success.
Maxsom: Comply with laws to protect agriculture and water. Have more green space to allow children to play safely and explore. Encourage the NCC to open up Gatineau park to people.
Desabrais: Dumping in ditches is a problem. Protect forests and agricultural land. Have proper disposal of hazardous waste. Teach awareness in schools to save and protect the environment.
Howard: The municipality has lowered its carbon footprint and receives provincial money for doing so. Recycling is successful. We need consistent budgets. Alter the zoning bylaws to improve recycling and reduce garbage.
Hamilton: Reduce paper usage. Inform people - she has worked on the garbage truck, knows first hand that people dont know what is recycling, what is garbage. Maintain green space.
(It was notable that the Lions Hall (municipal property) has many garbage cans, one container for money-back Quebec cans, but no bins for recyclable paper, plastic bottles etc).
How would you support and encourage economic growth in the area?
Howard: Give new businesses tax credits and subsidies. encourage growth of existing businesses.
Hamilton: Growth is vital for the community to provide more local jobs, so that families want to stay here.
Dubé: Consultation is the key word. Businesses are dying in Quyon. Weve lost another gas station, which is jobs lost. Municipality has to be a leader.
Ms McCann: The new ferry will be beneficial, and will attract newcomers, as will the new development in Quyon near the highway. Shop local.
Hudson: Have local markets, farmers market for the community and out-of towners. These will bring more business to local restaurants and stores.
Maxsom: Promote local business. Ask why they are not growing, what do they need. Help them with zoning issues. Get the CLD to come here across the mountain to talk to businesses.
Desabrais: Processes are discouraging, find solutions. Promote local business. Create parks, both recreational and natural.
As a councillor, how will you communicate and inform the community about your decisions?
Desabrais: Newsletters, websites, Action Pontiac, Pontiac Journal, social media, schools, even by phone (one on one).
Maxsom: Community meetings.
Hamilton: Municipality should have Facebook page. Church bulletins. Phone - Im here 24 hours a day.
Howard: I can use a computer, there are lots of good ideas, people with lots of information. Two-way dialog.
Ms McCann: A personal council blog, email, phone, information sessions, The Equity, Pontiac Journal, an online municipal paper. Im available during the day.
Hudson: Email, have a local billboard and suggestion box for those not comfortable talking to their councillor or attending meetings.
Dubé: Meetings every two months, 6 bulletins per year. Im retired, available full time.
What would be the first thing you would change immediately?
Desabrais: Work to have a seniors residence in the area.
Maxsom: Delay eight planning bylaws - need to be aware of all impacts.
Howard: Council has to be more aware of what residents want.
Hamilton: Avoid confrontation, be respectful, work as a team.
Dubé: Have a public consultation before the budget. Improve internet access in the municipality.
Ms McCann: Enforce laws on animal control, have housing inspections, more police surveillance, fix sidewalks (in Quyon) to get to the park, more school crossings.
Hudson: Increase police security, have better street lighting (side streets in Quyon), reduce use of drinking water to water lawns, make people accountable for their animals.
The mayoral candidates
Roger Larose and Eddie McCann.
Mr Larose is 53, has been councillor for 11 years, and a contractor for 15 years. He said we need to focus on young families, with more programs for kids. Theres a lack of information - for example we didnt do a good enough job informing people about the bylaws. People would do more recycling if they realised it saves tax money, and improve septic systems near the river. If people have information they will change their habits. We need decent bylaws, and less focus on ditching and street lights.
Mr McCann is proud of the municipality and the huge gains it has made since he first ran for mayor in 1980. Pontiac is now 2nd best in the Outaouais and 7th out of 62 municipalities of the same size according to the HEC study* (no one else mentioned this study, covered on 7 October in LeDroit). McCann was mayor from 1990-1994 and since 2004. He defended the recently passed bylaws, for which he cast the deciding vote. These bylaws save residents thousands of dollars. I will not report to the eight people who are trying to control meetings and run the municipality. I deal with individuals not groups. Councillors Larose, Middlemiss and Twolan were on council when it was put in tutorship by the province (until December 2002). Councillors Larose, Middlemiss and Howard are not listening to the needs of the municipality; they have voted 50 times against (in the last council). If a resident has a problem he offers to meet one-on-one. It takes too much time at council meetings.
In rebuttal Larose said We all work together. Eight people is not true, 50 people are calling me.
To a question about interaction with residents, Dubé said You have to listen to people, any groups, associations, citizens groups. Carl Hager (in the audience) asked Mr Howard if he would have town hall meetings for his ward. Yes, and we need to look at the whole municipality, replied Howard.
In reply to a question about whether taxes would go up or stay at 0% increase (like the last 2 years), Larose replied We have to be careful the way we waste our money. we have to stop that.
McCann repeated that the HEC study shows we do not waste money. We can lower the mil rate when evaluation increases, dont expect an increase in taxes in the next two years.
The meeting ended with all candidates agreeing that a new community hall in Quyon is necessary. McCann said that $180,000 has been raised from the community towards this project. With a total of $400,000 from the municipality and community, and equal amounts from provincial and federal governments, it will only cost $8 or $9 per household.