Monday, July 22, 2024
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – September 27, 2023

Money up in smoke

Dear Editor,
I have been reading the news items about the proposed garbage incinerator in the Pontiac with increasing amazement. Certainly people could be concerned about air pollution. The notion that these things emit gas that is 99.9% “pure” is ludicrous. As clean as garbage incinerators might be, they still produce a lot of CO2 and some conventional regulated pollutants NOx ,SOx, fine particulate matter as well as dioxins that we know about. They are also very likely to emit much nastier PFAS or “forever chemicals’, which are not regulated because no safe levels have been determined. Lest I be accused of fearmongering, I’ll just point out that most household garbage contains a lot of plastic and plasticized stuff and that is where PFAS come from. There is also residual fly ash that must be disposed of in special Hazardous Waste Treatment Facilities. But I am not here to argue about environmental health. I am here because I absolutely hate to see money being wasted, especially if that money is public money.
Burning garbage is by far the most expensive way to manage waste and yet somehow local politicians have jumped to this as a solution to our waste problem. We have been told that somewhere in the order of a hundred thousand dollars will be needed to develop a business plan. Much more than that will be needed for the requisite environmental studies and hundreds of millions will be needed to build the facility. Add to that the cost of operation. The plant in York-Durham, upon which the proposed facility for the Pontiac is modelled, runs at a loss of approximately $7.6 million per year, a tab picked up by the tax payers of York-Durham. And this even though the York-Durham plant sits in a densely populated city with a nearby source of garbage to burn and customers for the electricity. I don’t need to point out that this is not the scenario for the proposed Pontiac facility. Where will the garbage come from and who will buy the electricity?
Everyone in the province should be concerned about this because the Quebec government will be asked to fund many aspects of this project. I like public money being spent on projects that benefit society as much as the next guy, but I absolutely hate seeing money go up in smoke. Literally! I would also argue that if this is such a good economic idea, and since the company who will build and run the facility has already been chosen, then they should foot the bill. Covanta, the company the Pontiac mayors and warden have favoured, is owned by Swedish private equity firm EQT which, by the looks of its website, has a lot of money to play with.
Public money spent on this project means that money is not available for other things. There is no argument that economic renewal is needed in the Pontiac but this project is not it.

Sheila McCrindle, Luskville

History just keeps on happening

Dear Editor,
I’ve been fascinated by early archaeology and paleo-anthropology, for as long as I remember. When I was in second grade, my friend Wally and I would take turns at the bookmobile; one would check out and we both would read and memorize a book on dinosaurs - all twelve that were known at that time. Many new species have been discovered since then. It’s almost inconceivably unlikely that any remains would still exist, much less be discovered and recognized by modern historians, and yet there they are, to be seen and pondered. Over the decades, I’ve visited sites of dinosaur fossil discoveries and sites of villages and ceremonial sites of the Mound Builder Culture that existed and thrived all over North America, 1,000 to 3,000 years ago. However, I had never had the opportunity to see a dig in progress.
Over the past two weekends, I’ve had the privilege of taking part in an active dig examining the buried evidence of a building dating back to the early 1800s, in an area which was a gathering place for millennia before Europeans arrived. No, we didn’t unearth any hidden treasure - or did we? Aside from a well-built stone foundation, we discovered bits and pieces of pottery and broken glass, a few nails, and one rodent tooth. The treasure is in the context - the archaeologists overseeing the dig took painstaking notes about where each piece was found, and very importantly, at which level of overburden. Don’t bother to go searching around, even if you can figure out where the site is - there was nothing found that would have any monetary value - it’s all in the story, which can be told by studying the artifacts in their context, compared to written history of the development of the fur trade, and later, the timber trade.
This is day-before-yesterday archaeology, compared to the truly ancient remnants of such sites as Gobekli Tepe, or the even older Keran Tepe located in what is now Turkey. Both sites show us where people for some reason, and with some sort of project enthusiasm which we simply cannot imagine, built a grand megalithic complex, which was later buried, only to be accidentally uncovered in recent times. These sites are twice as old as the commonly held timeline for the construction of the pyramids of Egypt. It had been held as fact that people of those times were semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, but they somehow managed a construction that we would be hard-pressed to recreate with today’s power technologies.
A question I like to ask myself, is, “What are we doing or building today that will still exist decades, centuries or millennia into the future?” If you want to make a lasting impression, create something out of glass or pottery, or even better, grow a good set of teeth, and don’t wear them out by eating junk food. Future historian-scientists may come poking around your dwelling, so you’ll want to leave it in good order.

Robert Wills, Thorne and Shawville

Seeking pool enthusiasts

Dear Editor,
One of the main priorities in the minds of residents of all ages in the Pontiac is the need for an indoor swimming pool. I know this from going door to door in two elections and I am always being asked about it. Currently, residents (especially young families) travel to Pembroke, Aylmer and Arnprior for aquatic exercise and swimming lessons. To use pools in Ontario we pay more and, in the end, the dollars flow out of the Pontiac.

There have been many attempts over the years to plan and organize a pool project for government funding. The most recent was through the committee Piscine Pontiac in 2020 asking for $7.6 M from the provincial government for an aqua-gym. Unfortunately, Pontiac was not successful as there were $2 billion dollars of requests with only $294 million of provincial funds available.
We have another opportunity this fall. The government has pledged $300 million per year for the next 12 years. We have revamped the last design to exclude the gym and focus instead on the 25-metre, four-lane pool and the warm aqua-therapy pool for aquafit and therapy. There could be a phase two eventually adding the gym. The two-acre location was decided three years ago in Fort Coulonge near the arena.
I am looking for enthusiastic citizens across the Pontiac representing all 18 municipalities who realize the necessity for this important infrastructure. Please contact me as soon as possible through my email: prefete@mrcpontiac.qc.ca or call 819-647-8198.
These pools are for everyone. All ages, all abilities and disabilities and available 12 months of the year. The pools have ramp access for walkers and wheelchairs, we still have many people who have never learned to swim, and it can be used for much needed physiotherapy and as an effective way to lose weight and become healthier. We have 27 per cent of residents of senior age and this facility will promote social activity and longer life.
Many professionals (especially doctors) have told me that to bring their families to live in the Pontiac they require an amenity like the pool. The facility will provide approximately 24 part-time and full-time jobs. It will be the newest aqua-centre in the Ottawa/Outaouais valley.
We have from now to December 5 to submit our application…LET’S GO FOR IT PONTIAC! We can do it together!
Please contact me to show your interest and support. Thank you.

Jane Toller, Warden MRC Pontiac

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