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Dedication to neighbours, socializing key to Sheenboro way of life

STEPHEN RICCIO
Sheenboro April 28, 2021
EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the next several months, THE EQUITY will be reporting on the progress each municipality within the Pontiac has made since the last slate of municipal elections in 2017. This series aims to uncover and expand on what key accomplishments, challenges and notable events each community has dealt with over the past four years.

In the midst of dealing with a population in decline and an unprecedented pandemic, a close-knit community of less than 200 people continues to get by on resilience and a commitment to others.
The same could be said for several municipalities within the Pontiac, and Sheenboro is no exception.
“Sheen is a social community, just like most of the Pontiac,” said Mayor Doris Ranger. “I think the way we pass the time, people pass the time here, is by helping out neighbours.”
Being highly populated by seniors, with some living alone, the community was hit hard by the pandemic. While it wasn’t hit hard by COVID-19 itself — the virus just made its way to the municipality less than two weeks ago — residents had to make serious adjustments to their day to day lives to forgo the usual lunches, dinners, church celebrations and other various social events that make life enjoyable.
“I’d say that was really hard on our people,” Ranger said.
Despite the pandemic being the omnipresent challenge since early 2020, Ranger and Director General (DG) Ashlee Poirier were pleased to get the opportunity to sit down and evaluate all of the progress that had been made elsewhere since the electoral term began in late 2017.
Poirier has been working as Sheenboro’s DG since around Christmas last year, and Ranger said that the municipality was lucky to get the help of Alicia Jones prior to Poirier’s arrival when the former DG fell ill. Jones also serves as the DG of Chichester and L’Isle aux Allumettes.
Some of the accomplishments that make Poirier, Ranger and the rest of the council most proud are the upgrading of the municipal park to include exercise stations thanks to a $10,000 grant and the completion of the first phase of the Sheenboro Nature Preserve trail thanks to a $13,000 grant.
Additionally, the municipality received a $520,000 grant to create an emergency evacuation plan that included the purchase of two generators — one for the municipal officer and another for the Chapeau CLSC, radios for the Pontiac Ouest Fire Department and the building of a garage to store rescue vehicles.

Sheenboro, one of the 18 municipalitites within the MRC Pontiac, is a small, largely English-speaking community of approximately 140 residents (2016 census).

The municipality has continued to perform maintenance on road infrastructure over the years that includes the replacement of several culverts and ditching projects that are currently underway, but there are two significant projects planned for this year with the help of the gas tax program grant (2019-2023 TECQ): 6 km of work to be done on Sullivan and Mountain Road and 1 km on Perrault Road.
In tandem with Poirier, Ranger and Sheenboro’s six councillors, there were positive changes made to the work environment for municipal staff, including a new human resources policy, a new benefit/pension package and the transition to online banking for payroll.
The group also: purchased a new plow for the municipal truck, collaborated to help the Résidence Meilleur du Haut Pontiac in Chapeau, passed a resolution opposing “potential environmental problems” stemming from the disposal of nuclear waste at Chalk River and capitalized on a composing initiative at the transfer site to help reduce the cost of garbage and to educate residents.
While dealing with the pandemic stands out as one of the major challenges for the municipality since 2017, residents of the municipality were also impacted by 2019 flooding that did considerable damage to many Pontiac municipalities.
Ranger said the situation in Sheenboro paled in comparison to what others dealt with, but residents were still there to lend a helping hand.
“It was sad, we went through it … but that was minor compared to what people did on Allumettes Island,” she said. “So a lot of neighbours in Sheenboro concentrated on helping out and volunteering in Chichester, [Allumettes and Waltham].”
As Poirier wrote, “cooperation has proven time and again that significant changes can be achieved even in small municipalities.”
While residents of Sheenboro continue to sustain things in the cozy community as the first half of 2021 winds down, the possibility of gathering socially is beginning to emerge on the horizon, as the province has now vaccinated a third of its population.
Among the past and future dinners and lively card games, Ranger said that celebrating mass together at the Catholic church, St. Paul the Hermit, stands out as something much of the community cherishes.
“A lot of non-Catholics who go to that church, they’re Christian, and if they’re up here - seasonal residents - and they’re here on Saturday night, they come out to the church,” explained Ranger. “It’s kind of a meet and greet for them. So I think [for] a lot of us, that’s what we miss.”

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