Candidates meeting in Luskville
Mo Laidlaw

Five of the six candidates for wards 4, 5 and 6 in the municipality of Pontiac, together with the two mayoral candidates attended the community centre in Luskville on 20 October 2013. Over 40 members of the public were present, with numbers increasing to 50 for the mayors’ meeting. Greg Fergus, an Aylmer resident, was the moderator. Each candidate had three 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. All of the candidates spoke in both English and French. With the reduced time for opening statements (in Quyon candidates had 5 minutes), they were sometimes cut off, because of the extra time required for both languages.

Answers to the four prepared questions will appear in this week’s Pontiac Journal (23 October 2013), and later, here.

Electoral districts: http://www.municipalitepontiac.com/files/9613/8063/8956/DistrictElectoral_muniPontiac.pdf

Opening statements

Ward 4. (Luskville southwest of route 148, east of ch Lebrun, then south of ch de la Baie, and west of ch de la Rivière, north of the east part of ch des Pères Dominicains) Candidates: James Eggleton and Inès Pontiroli.

Mr Eggleton has lived in Pontiac since 1979. He has attended most meetings and special meetings of council for the last four years. He feels a strong need to build strong relationships, and wants to do something for youth, involving activities and athleticism. “I want to engage you with my heart. There is something missing here.”

Ms Pontiroli, the incumbent councillor, was born in Hull and has lived in Pontiac since, having spent most of her childhood here. She is retired from Bell Canada, and worked for 17 years in project management. She is a founding member of Action Pontiac, and has been the councillor in charge of Savour the Pontiac for several years (showcase of local businesses). She worked on the town planning bylaws, the website, the new human resources management system, tolerance roads, the MRC cultural commission, and for the last year was the councillor responsible for the fire department. Her projects are to complete the septic sludge treatment plant, develop a strategic plan to achieve the agreed strategic objectives, and produce a detailed development plan for the municipality. She speaks English, French and Italian.

Ward 5. (East of ch Lebrun, north of route 148 to ch des Pères Dominicains, then both sides of 148 south to ch Elm, and ch Maple). Candidates: Brian Middlemiss and Pierre Gervais.

Mr Middlemiss, the incumbent, has been councillor for 11 years. He’s been married for 33 years. He has been director of the Pontiac provincial Liberal party, and organized 2 elections and 2 referendums. He has been a volunteer fireman since 2004. His goal is to work for the whole municipality and involve residents.

Mr Gervais has worked at the House of Commons for 20 years. He has CGA qualifications (accountancy). He’s been told by people that they feel disconnected from local government. He would follow 3 principles: minimize taxes by finding savings, prioritize core services, and reduce the number of bylaws.

Ward 6. (Residential area south of east end of ch Elm and west end of ch Maple). Candidates: Bill Twolan and Dr Jean Amyotte.

Mr Twolan has been a businessman for 30 years, and was a councillor in the 1990s. He feels there is a lack of transparency and doesn’t think it is right that the mayor should “take sides” when there is a 3:3 tie in council. He would like to promote employment especially for youth, have more public consultations, encourage business, deal with environmental issues.

Dr Amyotte was not present at the meeting. Contacted later that evening (Oct 20th) he wrote: “Since 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.]

The meeting organizers later clarified (Oct 22nd): “Voice messages were left on both his home and business answering machines. His outgoing message indicated he was on holiday until Oct. 21. We also tried to contact him via the Chief Returning Officer but the office was completely unhelpful.”

Questions from the public

Rick Knox asked incumbent councillors if they were involved in preparing the zoning bylaws, and Debbie Tremblay asked, “What was the big rush?”
Middlemiss said, “The CCU made the work on the bylaws, there are two councillors and residents on the CCU.” He voted against because people present asked him to postpone passing the bylaws. He would have liked to see side by side comparisons of the old and new bylaws.
Pontiroli said that in fact all councillors had the opportunity to work on the bylaws, two years ago, so it was not rushed. “It was out of date, we needed to get it out. We employed a town planner. Councillors were asked to participate and we went through it line by line. We didn’t rush. There were no major changes. We are not here to create problems.”

Barrie Marfleet feels that his councillor doesn’t communicate with his people. He asked Twolan what he would do. Twolan replied he would “post a quarterly newsletter on our web (sic) and use social media”.

David Birt said that bylaws have helped clean up his neighbourhood, and asked Gervais which bylaws he would reduce. Gervais said that some of the bylaws infringe on civil liberties: “If he wants to trim a tree on his property, let him do it.”

Charles Éthier asked about disparities between different areas in the municipality. “How will you work together for the whole community, not just for your ward?”
Twolan: “Always work for the whole community, make sure our ward gets its fair share.
Gervais: “I’ll be a voice for residents of ward 5, but my approach is to the whole municipality.”
Middlemiss: “I work for the whole municipality.”
Pontiroli: “There are projects in every ward. Quyon has high potential.”
Eggleton: “Needs vary, I’ll drive around.”

Mo Laidlaw asked how 3 of the candidates planned to improve route 148, which is under Ministry of Transport jurisdiction. Barrie Marfleet asked what success would look like on this goal.
Eggleton: “We’ll get the grants. I have travelled extensively in Europe where they have 3-lane highways with the centre lane for passing.”
Twolan said that he knows a foreman at the Ministry of Transport and they never receive requests from the municipality. (But the minutes show frequent requests).
Middlemiss: “This has been in the works for many years. We should get other municipalities to help us with this. Put more pressure from council and citizens on the MTQ. Success would be a wider safer 2-lane. They should have worked east to west on improving 148.”
Pontiroli: “A four-lane bypassing the centres would kill us. (Both Quyon and Luskville have declined since the 148 bypassed the villages). But with all the new housing projects, getting on to the 148 is difficult.”
Debbie Tremblay asked, “When will the detour (around 148 roadworks) be repaved, it’s been 5 months. Pontiroli said , “There is an agreement with MTQ, it will be paved before winter, better than before.”

Diane Mainville asked Pontiroli what she would change about the zoning bylaws, in hindsight. Pontiroli replied, “Have an earlier public consultation. But we fixed a lot of issues with minor derogations (exemptions).”
Daniel Huard asked how candidates would lead a consultation (on for example strategic plans) and at what point in the process.
Pontiroli: “Hire experts to drive consultation.”
Middlemiss: “Start at the beginning, and debate.”
Gervais: “Give the public the opportunity to do their own consultation, and time to take their comments into consideration.”
Twolan: “Consult constituents in my ward, take it back to council.”

Micheline Lepage asked why children in Breckenridge have to go to Shawville and beyond to play hockey, when Aylmer is so much closer. Madeleine Carpentier suggested that Aylmer services for Breckenridge residents would be a good idea, for library, swimming pool, sports and CLSC (health centre). Pontiroli said that they are looking at partnering with Gatineau for some services. Eggleton said that as an ex-Olympian figure skater who spent his youth living in ice rinks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaimee_Eggleton), we need an ice rink in ward 6. Mr McCann later stated that Pontiac has agreements for fire service and library, but hockey is run by sports groups, it is not a municipal decision.

Nicole Gibeau asked Twolan where he proposed to put an east end industrial park. He replied, “Not in a residential area, but on farmland near the junction of Terry-Fox and Pink.” (This would require CPTAQ approval to dezone farmland).

Rick Knox asked what ideas candidates had for youth jobs.
Twolan: “Mountainview Turf to employ youth in the summer.”
Pontiroli: “Introduce the Solidarité Brassicole (Brewery project supported by CLD) program to create employment for youth, as well as stimulating farmers to grow crops such as barley and hops. There’s also money to create a Maison des Jeunes, and run programs to prepare youth for work.”
Eggleton: “A passionate subject for me. Buy low cost plots of land, have volunteers build swing sets to produce a multitude of small playgrounds.”
Middlemiss: “Get help from the CLD to employ youth and keep them here.”
Gervais: “Are these youth training programs temporary? What you want is to make sure jobs are available by creating economic growth, and a business-friendly environment.”

The candidates for mayor, 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. He will meet and work with people, talk and listen, so he knows their needs. He wants change for the best, and honesty and fairness for every citizen.

Mr McCann was mayor from 1990-1994 and from 2004 to the present, working full-time as mayor since 2006. He is proud of the municipality and the huge gains it has made from tutorship (by the province in the late 1990s) to 2nd best in the Outaouais and 7th out of 62 municipalities of the same size according to the HEC study*.
*http://www.lapresse.ca/multimedias/201310/04/01-4696729-carte-interactive-du-palmares-des-municipalites.php
He sees opportunities to improve the 148 and Eardley-Masham road, as well as to start upgrades to Mountain road (ch de la Montagne) in 2014. Ch des Pères Dominicains, ch Tremblay and rue de Clarendon need to be brought up to standard. He wants to see proper cleaning of the sides of the roads and ditches. He’s a member of the Waterfront revitalization committee in Quyon and would like to see upgrades to the beach area, and a major boat-dock area.

Questions from the public

Inès Pontiroli asked what approach they would take if there is persistent division in council.
Larose: “There won’t be a division. Councillors work for the citizens, there’ll be no problems.”
McCann: “Before the zoning bylaws we all worked together, there’s no great division. I guarantee if all councillors work they’ll vote together.”

Micheline Lepage said, “We hear about accomplishments in Quyon area, what about our end?
McCann: “Most of the paving has been in the east end. Everyone thinks I give to the other end, but it’s not true.”
Larose: “If the project is presented right we must work with the people.”

Hélène X: “What will be different in 3 or 5 years? What impassions you?”
Larose: “We need to be proud. There will be new developments, improved services. We’ll work with other municipalities.”
McCann: “The community centre in Quyon, and docks and beach there. An arena / curling rink. Infrastructures. A clean municipality, good service, pride in our community. Have people say ‘Mon Dieu, une belle place’.”

Diane Mainville: “Mr Larose, you were part of council when it was in tutorship, and also part of the divisiveness in the recent council. What lessons did you learn from tutorship?”
Larose: “I was only a councillor. It was a benefit. It taught us how to be equal, work with people. It wasn’t bad for the municipality, for example the private roads are now tolerance roads.”
McCann: “I don’t think provincial control is good for any municipality. Tolerance roads are now 12% of our budget. We are not the same municipality.”

Carl Hager: “In Quyon stores are closing, it’s hard to get people back. It’s a small thing but a bike path would encourage tourism.”
McCann: “ We’ve done lots of work on this. There’s a trail on paper, and municipal roads are now part of the Route verte. For snowmobile trails we’ve had a difficult time with the NCC. We’re trying to keep the North Onslow to Wolf Lake trail open” (which runs through Gatineau Park).

Joan Belsher said “Eddie, you want people to come to council but you refuse to change the meeting time to 7:30 pm.”
McCann replied, “If council prefers 7:30 that’s OK with me. It’s up to council.”

Marie-Claude Pineau asked who organized the meeting as she saw no advertising. Sheila McCrindle (one of the organizers, with Kate Aley, Andrea Goffart and Sandy St George) replied that there is a $200 limit on spending, so little advertising. (Notices were removed daily from community mailboxes by the mail-person, and not allowed on the municipal website, although the meeting was for all candidates, and with no candidates named.)
A member of the audience commented afterwards that most of those present appeared fairly partisan, loudly applauding Roger Larose and those candidates for councillor who support him.