Friday, July 12, 2024
Highlights 2

Mansfield, Fort Coulonge win award for joint tourism efforts

The municipalities of Fort Coulonge and Mansfield and Pontefract have won a provincial award in recognition of the towns’ recent renovation of their outdoor rest area on Highway 148, along the Coulonge River.
The Inspiration prize was given out by Quebec’s Fédération des Villages-Relais du Québec, in partnership with the Ministry of Transportation, at a conference in late May to celebrate projects developed by Village-Relais communities across the province.
Fort Coulonge and Mansfield won the prize for the new rest stop along Highway 148 and for the Félix-Gabriel-Marchand covered bridge, which lights up at night and is visible from the rest stop.
In June 2023, the municipalities were accepted together as a Village-Relais, a provincial designation for towns across the province that meet specific requirements for hosting travelers, such as having sufficient numbers of gas stations, overnight accommodations, restaurants and public washrooms.
The network is designed to improve road safety by providing well-equipped, safe rest areas for travelers, and to reduce driver fatigue and lower the risk of accidents, but it also puts municipalities on the map as a tourist destination.
“It was the first time in Quebec that two villages are named together to be a Village-Relais,” said Mansfield mayor Sandra Armstrong.
Being accepted as one of almost 50 Village-Relais stops across the province was a huge feat for the municipalities, which had been working on rallying local businesses to sign onto this project for several years before Armstrong and Fort Coulonge mayor Christine Francoeur were elected to office.
“Each business involved had to sign a contract saying they would be willing to accommodate the people that were coming in,” Francoeur explained. “It was quite the process.”
Last year, Mansfield’s development agent Louis Harvey led the charge on creating a new state-of-the-art rest stop on Highway 148, which opened in May.
It features self-cleaning washrooms and an illuminated trail with barcodes that direct visitors to websites for each of MRC Pontiac’s 18 municipalities.
It was Harvey who nominated the municipalities for the Inspiration prize, for both the new rest stop and the interactive lighting display on the covered bridge.
Both mayors were surprised to win.
“It was very unexpected,” Francoeur said. “This is the first time they give it out to newcomers. We’ve only been part of this for about a year.”
“It was a really nice prize to receive after so much work,” Armstrong said. “We are two strong mayors and working together was the main thing to get all of this done.”
Francoeur echoed this point.
“I find it’s important that people realize that if towns work together, we can always get a bit more.”

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