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MRC Pontiac Public Safety Committee recommending by-law updates across all 18 municipalities

The 18 local municipalities that make up MRC Pontiac are in the process of ratifying recommended updates to their current by-laws.
Being carried out at the suggestion of MRC Pontiac’s Public Safety Committee (CSP), the by-law updates concern topics related to parking, safety, peace and order in public areas, nuisances, peddling, outdoor use of water and alarm systems.
The updates also recommend an increase of fines for various infractions.
The Public Safety Committee’s recommendations were presented to the MRC’s Council of Mayors in June, where they were adopted unanimously. The amendments have now been sent to the councils of each municipality where, as of publication, they are at various stages of consideration.
The Public Safety Committee is composed of seven mayors – Sandra Armstrong (Mansfield and Pontefract), Alain Gagnon (Bryson), Donald Gagnon (Chichester), Ed Walsh (Clarendon), Odette Godin (Waltham), Doug Rouselle (Rapides-des-Joachims), and Karen Daly-Kelly (Thorne) – as well as representatives of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ). Among other things, it is responsible for overseeing the coordination of by-laws across the MRC.

“The purpose of the CSP is to involve elected municipal officials in maintaining a safe living environment. It ensures a follow-up on the police services offered by the Sûreté in the MRC or the equivalent territory while creating a privileged communication link between the Sûreté and the clientele it serves,” reads a description on the MRC website, translated into English.
An example of a by-law update recommended by the Public Safety Committee would be an “increase to the cost of fines specific to parking in a handicap zone without permission (section 9) from $100 to $250.”
Another example concerns the “use of drinking water for purposes of lawn watering, car washing or pool filling” during a water shortage.
According to current by-law’s concerning the use of outdoor water, during a water shortage, municipal councils can issue a resolution prohibiting or setting terms on water usage within their jurisdiction. The Public Safety Committees recommendations include the “added possibility of inspection outside of 7 am to 7 pm if use of exterior water can be seen from public roadway” in such an instance.
“The reason the MRC has a committee that decides what the regulations are is because they have to match in each municipality. Each by-law has to be identical or very similar, at the very least, in order to be applied by the SQ, which is contracted by the MRC,” said Julien Gagnon, MRC Pontiac’s Public Security Coordinator.
Stemming from neither provincial nor federal authorities, by-laws are municipal ordinances that govern behaviour within a specific community. Addressing issues such as outdoor water-usage and parking, by-laws generally cover topics that would be impractical to legislate on a broader provincial or federal scale.
As MRC Pontiac’s by-laws are enacted at the municipal level, rather than provincially or federally, it is not within the SQ’s mandate to enforce them. Unlike the MRC des Collines-de-L’Outaouais, MRC Pontiac does not have its own police force and so contracts the enforcement of its municipal by-laws to the provincial SQ police force.
“We contract [the SQ] to do all the hiring and the policing. And it costs each municipality so much a year because it’s a contract. So, when we contract them to police here, they have to apply our by-laws,” Julien Gagnon explained to THE EQUITY.
The contracting out of bylaw enforcement by the MRC Pontiac to the SQ is a big reason why the 18 municipalities that make up the MRC work to synchronize their by-laws.
“If you had to apply 18 different by-laws, it would almost be unfeasible for a police officer to know every rule in every municipality,” Gagnon said.
Gagnon concluded by explaining that there was no catalyst for the timing of the recommendations, and that the Public Safety Committee had instead determined the MRC was overdue for a by-law update from its ongoing analysis.
“There’s no specific reason for it being now, other than it’s been in the works for a couple of years. Our last by-laws were from 2011, so we’re at least 10 years later, and we’re definitely due for an update, if not just for the cost of the administration and the police services that we’re paying for.”

Connor Lalande
Shawville July 13, 2023

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