Our next interview is with Ricky Knox, running for councilor of Ward 5.
My mother came from Quyon, my father from Bristol. When I was eight, we moved from Ottawa to Quyon until I left home for school. My wife and I moved back to Municipality of Pontiac and have lived here for over 40 years.
Entrepreneur. I did a lot of the work for the NCC: small asset installation, such as bicycle path signage. I also built one-off prototypes for staircases for current Rideau Canal and designed the railings as part of renovation for Mackenzie King site.
Past council experience:
Ran for council twice previously.
What is the greatest challenge facing this municipality and your ward?
The first thing is ineffective people managing the Municipality of Pontiac. On council, a lot of […] people there are not necessarily fulfilling their obligations; there was a lack of participation over various terms.
Also there’s been a lot of talk about [developing] tourism. I struggle with that idea; I think it comes from federal and provincial [sources]… what would be a tourism destination? What is specifically that people would come here to see? We don’t have any actual destinations: we have Chats Falls, Gatineau Park and this nice river that we don’t have public access to --- these are old ideas that need to be paused.
Our destiny is ultimately forged by how we manage the urban sprawl. On the other end, we’re bound by this mountain and a lot of lakes but they are not accessible. I see our municipality as a gateway to other tourist destinations. And so the municipality is a through-zone; I don’t think we would capture this tourism, though I do see some things for agri-tourism or seasonal tourism. We need to create a plan to accommodate that and all other things that come with growth coming outwards [from Gatineau], [such as] commercial activity. This ward can cater to that. We need to organise that, not discourage it, in such a manner that it meets everyone’s needs.
If elected, what is your first priority?
The first thing I look at every day, driving home, is this beautiful river. Its unfortunate so many of us live in such close proximity [yet] can’t really access it. There are no access points. Currently, you have to drive to Quyon or Aylmer, but there is some empty land that could be purchased.
But there are more immediate needs: the municipality’s current obligations. As soon as you walk in [as councilor], there a lot of things we are not really aware of; obligations, we need to learn [about] those. The next thing is to prepare for the budget: I would need to consult my constituents to know what to focus on. Too many times, in the last 20 years of council meetings, some have not brought forward their wants. It’s like a negotiation; if you don’t bring them forward, you snooze, you lose. I need to get to know all of the other representatives, to learn their wants and build a rapport so, going forward, we can all work in a constructive way.
What is going right in this area?
The current council has managed to put in place many of the senior level management [positions] of our municipality; new people [that] all come with professional backgrounds and university qualifications. We have people at the helm that can manage our municipality: it is growing in leaps and bounds. Now it takes different sorts of managers to deal with demands of the people. We have a much more capable administration and it is a big bonus for us.
Our political stars are in alignment for the immediate future; our Provincial and Federal representatives; one from the riding of Pontiac and from within Pontiac. That hasn’t been seen for a long time.
Why will you be a good representative for your ward?
I do have some political experience: I have been attending [council meetings] for last 20 years. I have worked as a volunteer for the CCU [urban planning committee] for a term. I don’t think council work is dull… I aspire to the challenges that [it] faces. I’m excited about the challenges and the solutions […] that not only I but others have. I am goal-oriented. I am a worker; I have always worked a lot: 10 to 14 hour days were easy to do. I am not going there to sit on my laurels; I’m going there to work. I am not getting involved as a councilor without expecting to work; you need to think things through and come prepared.