Friday, July 12, 2024
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – May 29, 2024

The new math

Dear Editor,
After the unanimous vote by MRC Pontiac mayors against the proposed incineration project, it is surprising and somewhat perplexing how tenaciously Warden Toller is holding on to the possibility of such a project. As reported in your article (Mayors vote to abandon incineration project, THE EQUITY, May 22, 2024), in her interview with CHIP FM she implied that the Friends of the Pontiac petition was an insufficient indication of resident opposition as it did not represent 51 per cent of the voters. The more important number is that 100 per cent of mayors voted against the idea. That is a pretty clear signal the warden should pay attention to. That and the fact that only 26 per cent of registered voters voted for the warden in the last election so 51 per cent seems to be a pretty high bar.

Kevin Brady, Luskville

Discounting democracy

Dear Editor,
I’d like to respond to the letter from Louise Laroche in which she discounts the representation of the petition against incineration and attributing the votes of the mayors to bullying (Waste won’t just disappear, THE EQUITY, May 22, 2024).
Warden Toller has declared signed petitions and referenda invalid unless 100 per cent of the eligible voters cast their ballot and the results represent 51 per cent of the population, not just those with the right to vote, the electorate.
In the last election, there were 12,937 eligible voters. Warden Toller was voted in by only 3,301 votes or 25.52 per cent of the eligible voters or 22 per cent of the total population. Not much higher than the signed petition. How can she discount the representation of the petition against incineration because it does not equal 51 per cent of the population?
If we apply her standard to her election as warden, then we should give her no credence. She has no right to judge that all the mayors did not vote freely to reject incineration as our primary method of dealing with residuals, nor does she have the right to discount the unanimous decisions of 18 mayors from whom she receives direction.
Is it any wonder the warden is criticized? Such double standards are bound to cause people to respond with anger. The actions and words of the warden at the special meeting in May were bullying toward the mayors and those asking questions, and, to one member of the gallery in particular, were threatening. We expect more of our elected officials.
I have not attacked the warden. She is very charming and friendly. I have attacked her words and actions and logic.

Linda Lafortune, Otter Lake

Assessment shock

Dear Editor,
I am writing to share my personal story and highlight the absurdity of the recent property tax assessment hikes by the MRC Pontiac. I live in an off-grid cottage on Neil Lake, on a property less than an acre, which I bought for $14,700 in the early 2000s. Recently, my property was assessed at an outrageous $403,000.
To make matters worse, a larger off-grid property right next to mine is currently on the market for $200,000 and can’t sell. This stark difference shows just how disconnected these assessments are from reality.
I have vacationed here since I was a child and grew up in this community. This is not just a place I bought recently, it’s my home and has been a part of my life for decades.
I purchased my cottage as a retirement plan, a place to live comfortably on a fixed income. But now, with the capital gains tax also increasing, this inflated assessment threatens to wipe out my savings plan. I am facing a financial burden that I never anticipated and cannot afford.
This situation is not just about numbers, it’s about the real and devastating impact on people’s lives. I urge the MRC Pontiac to reconsider these unjust assessments and bring fairness back to our community.

Christina O’Neil, retired summer resident of Neil Lake

Community in full force

Dear Editor,
This past weekend, the ‘evaluation taskforce’ dedicated to challenging the recent 370 per cent increase in property assessments was out and about in Alleyn and Cawood, collecting signatures for our petition against the unfair and staggering hike. We are deeply committed to gathering hundreds of signatures by the next council meeting on June 3. This initiative is crucial to prevent the unjust financial burdens that threaten the homeowners of our community.
We call upon all residents of Alleyn and Cawood to join this fight and to reach out to our neighbours in the 17 other communities within MRC Pontiac to get their signatures. Their support is vital because they too are on the brink of facing similar unfair increases in property assessments in 2025. We also encourage homeowners to write in to the municipality with stories that will help amplify our cause when we take this to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Premier in Quebec City.
The more voices we present to MRC Pontiac and Minister Andrée Laforest, the stronger our stance will be to reduce this increase and change the outdated and unrealistic process to assess property values so that this never happens again to any community in Quebec.
We need to show unity and strength to demand a fair and accurate evaluation process that truly reflects the housing market, and one that people can afford, especially in such a strained economy where everything has gone up in cost. The taskforce has a plan in place and we are in full execution. Residents can get copies of the petition online and at the municipal office in Alleyn and Cawood.
Together, we can ensure that our concerns are heard and acted upon. Let’s rally our communities and fight for what is just and fair. We are stronger together.

Julie Vaux, Alleyn and Cawood

Reeling with outrage

Dear Editor,
Thank you for the front-page story after the May council meeting regarding MRC Pontiac’s decision to impose a staggering 370 per cent increase in property assessments in Alleyn and Cawood (Alleyn and Cawood property valuations set to increase by 370 per cent next year, THE EQUITY, May 8, 2024). This decision sent shockwaves through our tight-knit community, leaving many of us reeling with outrage. Luckily, the municipality and elected officials have agreed to join our taskforce and fight against this hike and process along with us.
What is particularly upsetting about this situation is the basis upon which these property assessments were made. We were informed that the actions of transient developers who swooped into our community seeking profit have been used to justify these exorbitant property assessment hikes by the MRC.
It is disheartening to see our hardworking residents being forced to pay the price for the speculative maneuvers of an outsider and the MRC’s misguided assessment. My own property has been assessed at a value well over $200,000 higher than its true market worth, a value I could never hope to realize if my husband and I were to sell.
The prospect of paying taxes higher than my mortgage looms on the horizon, and it simply makes no sense. For many of us, this is not just an inconvenience but a financial burden that threatens our ability to maintain our homes and provide for our families, especially as the cost of basic necessities like food and gas are already unaffordable.
Since the May council meeting, our taskforce has been hard at work collecting signatures for a petition to challenge these assessments and pressing elected officials to join the fight. They need to hear the countless heartbreaking stories from residents who are overwhelmed by this increase.
We are hoping that the municipalities, mayors and warden of MRC Pontiac will join forces to protect the other 17 municipalities making up MRC Pontiac, as they are next to face such increases in 2025. It is time to stand up together for our community and demand fairness and justice in our taxation policies.

Donna Maxwell, Alleyn and Cawood

Fair evaluation petition

Dear Editor,
This past weekend, as municipal councillors from Alleyn and Cawood and members of the Evaluation Taskforce, we dedicated our time to canvassing door-to-door, gathering signatures for the petition to challenge the MRC Pontiac’s recent 370 per cent increase in property assessments. As homeowners ourselves, we were already deeply concerned about this issue, but hearing directly from our fellow residents has been both eye-opening and heartbreaking.
As we went from home to home, we listened to countless stories from our neighbours. Many expressed shock and disbelief at the over-valuation of their properties, with some saying they had never financially planned for such an increase and never imagined it would happen. The impact on our retired and elderly residents, as well as young families, is particularly severe.
We heard how the rising costs of gas, groceries, and basic necessities are already stretching finances to the limit. The prospect of hundreds more dollars in property taxes each year is not just a burden—it will be life-altering. Some residents are even considering moving away from the community they love because they simply can’t afford to stay.
One story that profoundly affected us was from a retired couple living in a modest home on the lake, shockingly evaluated at $1.1 million. This couple, who have called Alleyn and Cawood home for decades, now face an uncertain future. They don’t have the means to acquire more income to cover the impending tax hike, and they are at a loss for what to do.
These personal accounts underscore why our fight against this unfair property tax increase is so critical. We need the community’s support to gather at least 500 signatures by the next council meeting on June 3. We urge the residents of Alleyn and Cawood to reach out to neighbouring communities within the MRC Pontiac, as they too face similar unfair increases in 2025.
Residents can obtain a copy of the petition form from the municipal office and collect signatures. The more signatures we gather, the stronger our message will be when presented to the MRC Pontiac and Minister Andrée Laforest. Together, we can demand a fair and accurate evaluation process that truly reflects the housing market and prevents unjust financial burdens.
Thank you for allowing us to fight alongside the community and we truly hope for your support. As your elected representatives, we will fight for the residents of Alleyn and Cawood.

Sidney Squitti and Guy Bergeron
Municipal Councillors of Alleyn and Cawood

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