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Mayors vote to abandon incinerator project

by Charles Dickson
Campbell’s Bay
May 15, 2024
A campaign waged for more than a year by Pontiac County warden Jane Toller to win support for her energy-from-waste (EFW) project appears to have come to an end.
In a vote held at the MRC building on Wednesday evening, all 18 of Pontiac county’s mayors supported a motion tabled by Litchfield mayor Colleen Larivière calling for the complete abandonment of the project.
The motion stipulated that all procedures and/or actions by the warden and by the MRC staff be ceased immediately in regards to the energy-from-waste incinerator project, and that no funds from the MRC Pontiac budget, or any type of grant or program money be allocated for any expenses, studies, communications, etc., relating to the project.
The Litchfield motion also provided that MRC’s waste management committee and staff responsible for waste management invest all their efforts into the preparation of a zero-waste policy for MRC Pontiac.
On this last point, Allumette Island mayor Corey Spence proposed a unanimously agreed change to the wording to the effect that the committee and staff focus their efforts “to aspire to zero waste as outlined in the objectives of the 2022-2030 PGMR [residual materials management plan], and to continue working with the three MRCs and the City of Gatineau to find the best regional solution for our residual waste.”
The requirement in the Litchfield motion that the energy-from-waste incinerator project be abandoned completely remained intact in the final resolution when it received unanimous support around the MRC table of mayors.
The move follows the May 6 decision by Litchfield’s municipal council to table a motion at the May 15 meeting of MRC Pontiac’s Council of Mayors to cease all expenditure and work related to the project.
The Litchfield resolution followed the emergence of considerable anti-incinerator sentiment expressed by the public at a series of five presentations on the subject convened by the MRC throughout the Pontiac in March and April, culminating in 16 of the county’s 18 municipal councils passing resolutions opposing the project.
In the public question period prior to the vote at Wednesday’s meeting, Jennifer Quaile, speaking on behalf of a citizens’ advocacy group, Friends of the Pontiac, reported that, as of May 12, the group’s anti-incinerator petition had received 3,255 signatures, of which 73 per cent (2,376) are residents of Pontiac County.
In a radio interview with Warden Toller following the meeting, CHIP FM reporter Caleb Nickerson asked the warden whether, in light of all the opposition to the project, she still considers Pontiac to be a willing host, whether for incineration or other technologies.
“You know, we never really had a chance to test how the whole population feels,” Toller responded.
“We have 14,700 people. Tonight, we heard about the petition. Kim [Lesage, director general of MRC Pontiac] did the math – 73 per cent from the Pontiac, and that was after eight months of getting names – that’s only 16 per cent of the population,” she said.
“I have always felt it’s very important to represent what the majority of people want. The majority, in my mind, is 51 per cent. I don’t know what 51 per cent of people want but, by the time we do find the best solution, I’ll make sure that 51 per cent support it.”

Toller said the resolutions passed by multiple municipal councils in opposition to the incinerator was due to pressure from citizen activists.
“The votes that took place in each municipal council is because they had people right at the meeting, and our mayors and councils have never experienced such political pressure, public pressure.”
Later in the CHIP interview, in response to Nickerson’s question as to why the Deloitte-Ramboll analysis was based on the 400,000-ton figure, which he described as “faulty information,” the warden said that she and Kari Richardson [environmental coordinator at MRC Pontiac] had augmented the number “so that it could be the largest amount of waste, bringing it as a resource, that could create 45 megawatts of electricity, that’s why.”
“It was not Ramboll or Deloitte that started with those numbers. We provided all the numbers to them, we did, based on all the potential partners we could think of. And actually, with Ottawa we were also including the ICI [industrial, commercial and institutional waste], so it wasn’t just the residential waste,” Warden Toller explained. Voir aussi la déclaration de la préfete, page 6.
Other issues
Other issues raised in the public question period included the 370 per cent increase in the valuation of properties in the municipality of Alleyn and Cawood. Angela Giroux from Danford Lake said her municipality is already paying increased shares to the MRC this year based on the evaluations for next year. “This needs to be a collaborative discussion between all the mayors to say ‘we cannot take this increase, because the numbers are ridiculous,’” she said. The warden assured her that the mayor and director general of the municipality are working on this and that she will do whatever she can.
A delegation of former employees of the abattoir in Shawville asked the warden whether the MRC, which has purchased the assets of the business, would hire them back. For more on this, please see the story: MRC buys abattoir assets https://www.theequity.ca/246158-2/

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