Tuesday, June 25, 2024
Letters to the Editor

A reply for cottagers and weekenders

Dear Editor,
I am writing in response to Pamela Sheehan’s letter to the editor on April 22, 2020.
In hers letter she expresses that the Pontiac political leadership, namely the warden Jane Toller, could have done more to be more sensitive and caring to “cottagers” in the area. I can fully understand her feelings and will begin by saying that I am sorry that this impression was given, and in retrospect, I could have sent out some form of communication to our property owners who have secondary residences in the Pontiac.
In late March, the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec asked all residents to remain at their permanent residences to avoid the spread of COVID-19. After April 1st, it was apparent that there was an excess of non-essential travel within, and also in and out of certain territories in Quebec. Some of these territories had limited health care facilities and small numbers of COVID-19 cases. The Premier of Quebec announced ‘controlled access areas’ and the Outaouais (which includes MRC Pontiac), became the ninth designated area to have SQ resources. There was no public consultation ahead of time and the three control access points in the Pontiac were activated.
The purpose of controlling access in and out of the Pontiac was not just to keep ‘“cottagers/weekenders’’ from their properties. It was evident that after many requests, our permanent local residents were still taking too many non-essential trips.
Some of our cottagers visit 12-months of the year, and many of them have written to me expressing their support and understanding about the temporary measures in place. They have asked for a letter of permission to inspect their cottages which I have provided, and have also stated that they have no plans to return to their cottages until the control access is lifted. I have really appreciated their understanding.
They understand our fragile health care system, and that they would be better served if they became infected, at their permanent residences. I would like to remind everyone, that the CISSSO have stated recently to me that the Pontiac has the lowest base level of health in the entire province of Québec. Our life expectancy is lower, we have respiratory and circulatory disease, diabetes and cancer. 26 percent of our population are seniors. We cannot afford to let COVID-19 take hold. It could be devastating.
We are very thankful for the taxes that residents with secondary homes pay, the support they give our local businesses and for their participation in community events.
Currently our local businesses are now supplying food and essential goods to more residents than usual which is challenging.
At this point we know that May 4th is the date for the end of isolation and non-essential travel. I believe that there is a good chance that this date will be extended.
This spring is not typical. It is unlike any we have ever experienced in our lifetime. This pandemic has had a huge impact across the world, and I stand by my decisions to support anything that will protect the Pontiac and save lives. Let’s work together for the health of the Pontiac! I would like to extend an invitation to Pamela Sheehan or any other cottager to contact me at prefete@mrcpontiac.qc.ca for further discussion or for assistance.

Jane Toller
Warden MRC Pontiac

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