Pontiac’s pre-budget 2015 public consultation
Mo Laidlaw

As part of Mayor Roger Larose’s promise to consult more, the municipality held its second pre-budget public consultation on 24 November at the Marcel Lavigne community centre in Luskville. About twelve members of the public were present in addition to the mayor and councillors.

Mayor Larose gave a short speech welcoming participants, and pointing out that with a possible increase of $182,000 in Pontiac’s contribution to the MRC des Collines, and a reduction in grants from Québec, taxes will increase in 2015. “We have no choice; taxes will be about 3% more even with no increase in services,” he said. Having restructured the planning department (urbanism) in 2014, it will be the turn of the roads department in 2015, and it is hoped to hire an engineer. Council’s priorities are roads, municipal buildings, Terratubes in the next three years, Quyon community centre, and a boat launch.

Councillor Denis Dubé, chair of the Finance and administrative committee introduced the next part of the meeting. Participants were asked to complete a survey, giving their opinion on the priority to be given to various items, such as repaving already paved roads, selling unused municipal land and the mill in Quyon, equipping existing playgrounds, installing a public access to the Ottawa River, putting in new parks and playgrounds, taking responsibility for the summer day camp, and so on. Many of these items raised questions, and some people asked if they could complete the survey at home, while others said they needed more information - for example where is this municipal land that could be sold, what is the evaluation, and could it be used for public use now or in the future? What are the costs of various programs?

Then each participant was asked for their two highest priorities, which ranged from continuing with the Parc du Sault-des-Chats project, completing the Terratube system for dealing with septic sludge for residents who do not live in Quyon (which seems to be on hold), and dealing with inadequate septic systems in some of the cottage areas, which may need municipal drinking water in future because of pollution. A new community centre in Quyon was mentioned as a priority, and it was mentioned that 58 Pontiac youth are playing hockey in Shawville at over $100 each. Another asked how Quyon residents could pay for repairs to the drinking water pipes (and roads dug up to replace pipes) in addition to a new community centre. Councillor Dubé said he still doesn’t know whether grants for pipe repairs have been cut, announcements are made daily.

No obvious consensus emerged. There were as many answers as participants. Mayor Larose said “we have to evaluate everything, the costs.” Some items mentioned are already being worked on and will be completed in 2015, such as revisiting land-use bylaws and playground equipment for ward 4 and 6 playgrounds. When the surveys are analysed, “they won’t change 2015, but may change what is done in 2016.”

Photo: from left, Councillors Denis Dubé & Nancy Maxsom, Mayor Roger Larose, Councillor Brian Middlemiss.