Municipality of Pontiac's 12th Council Gets to Work in Earnest



Thomas Soulière

LUSKVILLE — Pontiac's twelfth Council conducted its first public meeting Tuesday with many new faces following the municipal election on November 5th.

  Since coming into power, this is the new team's third meeting together: a special meeting on November 14th, a caucus meeting to prepare the agenda for their first regular meeting, and the public meeting Tuesday night.

This year, 2017, has been particularly hard on the residents of the Municipality of Pontiac.  Following an above average winter snowfall, Pontiac was hit by unprecedented spring flooding that jarred inhabitants throughout the entire Ottawa River watershed — only to be followed by heavy rains in October that only added to everyone's misery.  It is in this environment that this new Council found itself hitting the ground running.

So on November 14th, nine days after being elected, the new council met to confront a situation on Alary Road. 

Water running off the Gatineau Hills had caused the failure of a culvert on Alary meant to carry the flow into the Ottawa.  With winter fast approaching, Council had to act quickly.  Drawing on planning begun last spring by Pontiac's previous administration to address this aging culvert, and taking advantage of financial help available from the Ministry of Public Security, Pontiac's new Council held a special meeting to address the problem on Alary Road.

Council voted to proceed with tenders for the work, allowing for a maximum of $145,000.00 for the repairs, to be taken from the accumulated surplus, while financial help from the Province could be worked out.

On Tuesday evening, incoming Mayor Joanne Labadie conducted her first public meeting highlighting the new Council's desire to be attentive and responsive to the concerns of the residents of the Municipality of Pontiac.  During question period, resident and community volunteer, Mme Diane Lacasse, raised the issue of the “pitiful condition” of Pontiac's most important facility: the Luskville Community Centre —alternatively known as the Marcel Lavigne Building.

Mme Lacasse's concerns were many: citing the general disrepair of the building, as well as the condition of the bathrooms being a particular source of shame when visitors come to the community centre during special events.  "I wouldn’t have a wedding reception here" Lacasse told Council.  "I was embarrassed last Sunday to see vendors from outside [the municipality] who came here to participate in [our annual Craft Bazaar and Breakfast and noting the run-down state of the community centre]."

Lacasse also spoke about the condition the kitchen is left in for incoming users who require the facilities.  “You can’t use the kitchen unless you clean it first,” Lacasse pointed out and added that she had previously suggested that a list of everyone using the kitchen be kept to help establish who is responsible for cleaning the kitchen after they use it. 

She also raised the issue of the condition of chemin Westbrook as being “not drivable” after rainfall as well as being dangerous for residents along the road during the morning and afternoon rush hour as drivers are travelling at a high rate of speed.  “I never go out to get my newspaper in the morning before 9:30am to avoid getting flattened by a car.”  Despite the speed being limited to 50km/h, there is a lack of enforcement on the artery connecting north Onslow to Highway 148.

Mayor Labadie responded that she had consulted with municipal staff on the situation with roads needing urgent repairs as well as the problems with the community centre bathrooms.  “We certainly have a plan and this winter we will be working with the contractor to make sure the bathrooms are cleaned up [and repaired.]”  The mayor went on to say that she liked Mme Lacasse’s idea of a list to manage kitchen users.  “That’s something we can maybe look in to because there are a lot of people who use [it] and it certainly has to be cleaned up for the next user.”

The Mayor ceded the questions concerning chemin Westbrook to Director General Benedikt Kuhn who explained that in many of the cases where roads quickly become degraded is related to drainage issues.  “This year was very bad for all of our roads and we have received many complaints relating to chemin Westbrook which we have taken note.”  However, with a limited number of graders available, the number of roads needing repair has significantly grown as a consequence of recent flash flooding.  As well, many of the municipality’s roads require work to rebuild their foundations to address ongoing problems.  Given the quantity of roads needing repair, there can be significant delays before work can begin on certain roads.

Next, Sue Birt, resident and treasurer of FRAPP brought up the issue of tolerance roads, a long-festering issue in the municipality.  “Since 1994 the Municipality has supported tolerance roads in some way, and I would like to invite the Council to engage with the people who live on tolerance roads, maybe engage FRAPP, maybe the associations.  We would really like to discuss this situation with you and maybe give you the history of our files, and see how we can move forward in the future in a holistic way and what’s good for the council and the municipality and people who live on these roads.”  Ms Birt concluded by asking if it would be possible to meet with Council.

“Absolutely,” responded Mayor Labadie.  “Most of us have been briefed on many of the issues regarding the tolerance roads and the current situation.  For this year I think we’re just going to keep it a status-quo until we look at it entirely.  The provincial government is not happy with the way we’ve handled it in the past, so we have to look at a new approach on how we deal with {tolerance roads] and we can only do that with you guys.”

Finally Carol Carpentier of ward 6 spoke about access to the river in the McKay project.  For 5 years, residents of the area have been seeking a resolution to the problem in order to have proper and safe access to the Ottawa River.  M. Carpentier noted that the slope at the end of McKay road is in very bad condition.

The Mayor responded that she had spoken to the Director General about the problems with McKay road and other similar locations.  “I would like to visit the area with you,” Labadie offered, “to get a better look at the situation.”

In regular council business, Council approved a budgetary transfer of $474,563.00 as well as $162,076.78 to pay invoices and paid the list of fixed expenses of $1,723,964.80.  Council unanimously voted to amend the amount of expenses for the month of November to $54,750.26*, after voting to accept a recommendation from the Public Works department to replace instead of repair the current sander used to apply grit in winter on municipal parking lots at a cost of just over $9,000.00 for the new equipment.

Continuing its support of the Quyon Family Centre, Council voted to bear the costs of a two-yard refuse container for a period of one year and asked the Family Centre to adjust it next support request to the Organization Recognition Program to take into account the cost of the containers rental, and urged the Family Centre to continue its awareness efforts and to continue looking for solutions to reduce the volume of waste destined for landfills.

Council approved the purchase of seven properties in the municipality that following the spring flood, had lost the ability to rebuild on the land.  For the nominal sum of one-dollar per property, the municipality will take possession of the land, as requested by the ministère de la Sécurité publique,  so that the former owners of those properties could become eligible for provincial grants to compensate those homeowners unable to rebuild.

An allocated surplus was created and approved for three ongoing projects, namely the rehabilitation of the road network, the building of the new community centre in Quyon and the paving of the Lusk project; since the borrowing by-laws have not yet been contracted and the interest payments that are not yet due have already been budgeted for in 2017, the municipality is simply moving the money forward to pay the invoices expected in 2018.  The allocated surplus for the road network is $50,000; for the community centre in Quyon, $37,500; and $9,308 for the paving of the Lusk project.

Director General Benedikt Kuhn explained, “We have to proceed this way because when we contract a borrowing by-law, the services have to go to those who were taxed for it, so we can’t simply just return [the money] into the general surplus.”

Council also approved the transition allowance for outgoing mayors to be versed in two payments to outgoing mayor, Roger Larose as foreseen in by-law 04-90.

As well, Council voted to accept the recommendation of the promoters of the Domaine des Chutes project, to name the new road connecting to chemin Hotel de Ville, chemin de l’Adventure.

On the public works front, Council approved additional costs of $30,000 for the work on Mountain Road Phase 2 lot 1.  The cause of the additional cost was the presence of significantly more rock than was detectable.  Initially it was estimated to be 210 cubic meters, but is now estimated at 650 cubic meters, as the additional rock was undetectable at the time when testing was done.

Council granted a request from the Pontiac Snowmobile Drivers Association to be granted a limited right-away on the former grounds of Quyon Ensemble on Ferry Street as well the posting of traffic signs in a number of locations in the municipality along the snowmobile trail.

An initiative to establish an observatory in the Municipality of Pontiac by Observatoire Pontiac was given a boost by the Municipality when the previous Council adopted motion #16-12-3007 to help purchase, to a limit of $5000, some of the equipment needed to launch the observatory conditional on the participation of other partners identified by Observatoire Pontiac.  Those partners include CLD des Collins, the National Capital Commission, Caisse des Collines-de-l'Outaouais and the Municipality of Pontiac.  In addition, the new Council voted on Tuesday to extend its municipal insurance coverage to Observatoire Pontiac for civil liability, administrators and stakeholders civil liability and protection covering the property for a three year period.

Council also approved a motion to extend into 2018 the current ice rink maintenance contracts for rinks at Luskville and Soulière-Davis parks to ensure continuity of service.  Since the Municipality recently took over the skating rink in Quyon, it has entered into an “over-the-counter” agreement with Quyon Sports and Rec for this season, but the Municipality is open to propositions from local non-profit organizations.

With the tabling of various reports and correspondence, the new Council concluded it first round of business in its inaugural public meeting.

The next council meeting will take place at the Luskville Community Center Marcel Lavigne Building located at 2024 Highway 148 at 7:30pm on December 12th, 2017.

* The amount for the November expenses was reported at the meeting on November 21st, 2017 as being $57,634.63 but that figure was incorrect.  Upon confirmation from Pontiac’s Head of Communications Department and Acting Assistant Director General & Assistant Secretary-Treasurer Dominic Labrie, the correct amount is $54,760.26.  The difference is due to the cost of the projected repair not being subtracted from total before adding the cost of the replacement sander.

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