Our next interview is with Leslie-Anne Barber, candidate for Ward 6.
I was born in Valleyfield, Quebec and grew up in Thetford Mines, Quebec. I moved to the region for university in 2005 and moved to Pontiac in 2015.
l am an academic administrator of graduate studies, overseeing the administration of all management programs (Masters and PhDs) at the University of Ottawa.
What is the greatest challenge facing the municipality?
Originally, I believed one of the biggest challenges was economic development as a whole; finding sectors of development that would be good and fruitful without compromising the beauty of the area. Since [the candidate's meeting on] Sunday, my vision has evolved and I would say unity is one the biggest issues. I came in with a fresh perspective of wanting to serve my community, so I came in with grand ideas of economic development… then I realized first we need to learn to get along and work together. I think I knew of the challenges, but I didn't know the intensity of it. I have no ties [here], I have no bias. I bring that sense of energy and enthusiasm of what could be and hopefully that will be enough to get the ball rolling, to create a sense of belonging and collaboration. If the ward isn’t doing well, the municipality cannot do well and I hope that’s what I bring to the table.
If elected, what is the first thing you would like to do?
I think there are small wins: as I said in the [candidates] meeting, [matters of] safety. At the intersection of Hwy. 148 and ch. Fortin, the lights do not turn on at night. My understanding is that the developer owns the land but does not want to pay for the electricity. More broadly, my priority is to help the mayor to find where we want to go. After that, categorize all our needs and wants in terms of urgency and priority. I like to think my education and my common sense would allow me to be that impartial voice. There are some basic needs that I would value, like water in Quyon. I would in no way prioritize trivial or smaller emergencies over [access to] water.
What is going right in this area?
There are many things going right. I love living here; I would not trade it for anything. It’s got the space, the scenery, it has a huge power of attraction; but more so, it has already evolved a lot in the two years I’ve been here. When I moved here, houses were still being built, many lots were empty [and] now they are more established; now there is a new sector on Lilac and at the base of the Luskville Falls. My understanding is that, although they are not necessarily being built “green”, the intention is to allow growth but not necessarily allow all kinds of growth. From what I’ve seen, there is a will to grow healthily without allowing anything to just happen. Sometimes it’s better to do something proactively than to fix it afterwards. If we fight to get the proper rules in place to allow businesses to come, it allows us to establish a vision of where we want to go.
I feel like [...] you can’t keep everything intact but still expect people to come and, at the same time, if you want people to come you also have to allow the space to do it. I referred [at the meeting] to Hendrick Farm in Chelsea. That’s not necessarily what we want here, but the fact that they could build a partnership between the town of Chelsea and developers... it shows hope that we can do the same.
What made you decide to run for council?
On a purely rational front, I have the academic background to support and substantiate my analysis of issues at council. It’s part service to others - that’s always been a strong element of the way I do things – service to my community and to my neighbours, but part of me wants to also challenge myself. I get to push myself in terms of knowledge and expertise and at the same time, it allows me to add the human component to it. It was something I did in my former job a lot, mediation between teams, and it’s something I did well. I don’t pretend to have all the answers but I do have the commitment to do my best and help others do well.