Jane Toller

Jorge Maria
Campbell’s bay  Oct. 13, 2021 

Jane Toller has once again put her hat in the political ring by running for warden of the MRC Pontiac.

In the ‘70s, Toller double majored in physical education and psychology at Queen’s University and would eventually move to the community of Leaside in what was then East York, which eventually amalgamated into Toronto in the ‘90s. She worked in sales at Proctor and Gamble and became a community activist in Leaside during that time. 

Her political involvement eventually led to elections as a Toronto school trustee and then Toronto city councillor. In 2006 she ran for Toronto mayor, coming in second losing to the incumbent David Miller. The late Rob Ford eventually replaced Miller.

After another second-place loss for the city council in 2010, Toller stepped away from politics.

Some years later, she would return to what she calls her “ancestral home” in the MRC Pontiac and build the Spruceholme Inn at the former estate of her great-grandfather, the lumber baron George Bryson Jr.

Toller has “deep roots” in the Pontiac going back to the 1950s, where she remembers visiting Spruceholme as a girl during the summer when it was still a residence, she said.

In addition to the Spruceholme Inn, Toller owns an adjacent restaurant called Bryson’s Bistro du Bucheron and the Pontiac Conference Centre. In 2017, she became the first Warden in the MRC Pontiac to be elected under universal suffrage, taking 47 per cent of ballots cast. Her closest rival, Raymond Durocher, garnered just under 18 per cent.

Toller calls Mansfield et Pontefract home.

Revitalization through economic development

Toller used the past four years to attract investors to the Pontiac, “We have more investors interested in the Pontiac than we have ever had before,” she said. The MRC, she said, is working to attract developers and small business owners and entrepreneurs to the community, which she describes as “an undiscovered area.”

he cites the MRC’s investor attraction program and territorial marketing working in conjunction with the MRC’s economic development department as keys to the MRC’s success. She also mentioned David Cyr, who was hired in March as a business support and attraction consultant.

Toller said the Pontiac is currently experiencing a population boom, “We have proof that in every municipality, we have more people moving here, more people purchasing land, and businesses that have been closed up for a while are being repurposed and reopened.”

Relaunching the Forestry Industry

“For four years, I have worked on three former mill sites.” They are the Davidson Mill, the Jovalco Mill in Litchfield and the mill in Rapides-des-Joachims. “All three have business plans.” They are moving forward and in various stages, Toller said.

She feels that the only way to revitalize the forestry industry is by using existing infrastructure and upgrading it for a new era, which she calls “green forestry.” 

The forestry industry built the Pontiac, she said. It has left an indelible mark on the psyche of its citizens. So she feels revitalizing the sector is an important step to help the people of “Pontiac to really be able to move forward. We need to have forestry as an important part of our economy.“ 

Forty per cent of the Outaouais’s lumber is in the Pontiac; “it used to be the number one employer,” she added. 

Healthcare

The last government centralized the health care system, which affected the morale of the hospital staff, she said. Decision-making needs to be localized. “We also need to attract more doctors who not only work in the Pontiac but live in the Pontiac.”

However, she is encouraged by Health Minister Christian Dubé’s recent announcement making $1 billion in bonuses available to retain overworked nurses and hire new ones while also incentivizing the return of recently retired nurses.”        

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