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Reduced speed on 148, new logo and flooding, the May MRC meeting roundup

Youth Council President President Rylee Ballman giving her first presentation to the MRC Pontiac Council of Mayors. Warden Jane Toller said she will give a presentation every month for the duration as her time as president.

Brett Thoms
Campbell’s Bay May 17, 2023
The MRC Council of Mayor’s held its monthly public meeting last Wednesday. The meeting saw a series of diverse resolutions passed, ranging from a response to the most recent round of flooding, a response to the ice storm power outages in April, a request to reduce the speed limit on Hwy 148 near Waltham, the approval of the most recent round of Fonds régions et ruralité (FRR) projects, a website redesign, a youth council presentation, the approval of a new corporate logo for the MRC and more.
Starting with public safety, the MRC flood response resolution saw them propose a study from both the federal and provincial governments.
According to the resolution, the study should assess the current infrastructure along the Ottawa River, including both man-made structures and the natural shape of the river system and its tributaries.
The resolution also recommended investigating a “cost-benefit analysis of the addition of a reservoir and removal of obstacles along the Ottawa River, specifically in the Île-du-Grand-Calumet/Bryson area, where the natural shape of the river causes a return to natural flows which holds back water in Lake Coulonge.”
The MRC hoped the study would provide them with a comprehensive understanding of the river management system and its potential for improvement, which could include reducing the Ottawa River to its “minimum levels”.
“This study is going to look at solutions, Toller said about the resolution. “And it’s going to look at literally possibly making some physical changes. Because I really see that as the only solution. Instead of blaming dam management, instead of blaming climate change, let’s look at how can we cope with this volume of water that is going to come year after year.”
For the Waltham speed limit reduction, The MRC’s resolution supported a Waltham Council resolution requesting the Ministery of Transport study the reduction of the speed limit on Hwy. 148 going into Waltham from the east. The request is to drop the speed limit from 90 km to 70 km. The request was made in reference to protecting the safety of both school bus traffic in the area and four-wheeler drivers who use the area as a major intersection between trails in the area. This is the latest of many unsuccessful attempts on the part of Waltham and the MRC to reduce the speed limit on that stretch of the highway.

The resolution dealing with April’s power outages saw the MRC make four requests to Hydro Quebec. The first request was for Hydro Quebec to implement a proactive approach to cutting vegetation from around electrical lines. The second request was to allow private companies to cut, trim and remove downed trees from near powerlines in the case of an emergency. The third resolution requested Hydro Quebec establish relationships with Hydro-One and other electrical utilities to enlist their help in quickly responding to natural disaster events. The fourth request was the need for Hydro Quebec to better communicate with clients regarding timeframes for their reconnection.
The final notable resolution regarding public safety that was passed by the MRC Council of Mayors began the process for the relocation of off-road safety equipment from the Pontiac West Fire Department (Isle-aux-Allumettes, Chichester and Sheenboro) to the Pontiac North Fire Department (Otter Lake and Thorne). The resolution was passed due to the concentration of the off-road equipment in the western part of the MRC (Pontiac West and Mansfield) to the detriment of other areas. The off-road safety equipment allows first responders to reach people in areas that otherwise would be harder to access.
Moving on from Public safety, the MRC also passed a few notable economic development resolutions.
The MRC passed a resolution that approved the disbursal of $175,477.74 in total for seven projects across the Pontiac. The projects are as follows:

  1. A Byson RA Summer Camp will receive $12,821.58,
  2. The Chapeau Agricultural Society will receive $50,000 for the construction of a farmers market building.
  3. The Coopérative Aventure Hélianthe in Mansfeild will receive $21,089.50 for the purchase of electric bikes.
  4. Harrington Hall Community Centre in Chapeau will receive $28,512.80 for building renovations.
  5. The municipality of Campbell’s Bay will receive $20,892 for waterfront improvements.
  6. The Pontiac Archives will receive $1,739.34 for the purchase of equipment.
  7. The municipality of Shawville will receive $40,424.52 for the establishment of solar power lights.

The MRC passed a resolution supporting a resolution from the Otter Lake’s Council requesting tax mitigation of forestry properties.
The MRC also passed a resolution formally requesting the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to restore the previous pine allocation numbers for the Commonwealth Plywood Mill in Rapides-des-Joachines, which had been cut by 40 per cent upon the reopening of the mill last January.
Moving on from economic development, a few notable administration resolutions were passed.
A resolution was passed which contracted Calumet Media to update the MRC’s website.
MRC Communications Advisor Colleen Jones said that the update was overdue, as the current website is difficult to navigate and outdated. Along with the redesign of the website, the council also passed a resolution that would change their corporate logo.
The new logo, which will be used on the site and in official correspondence, is the same as Destination Pontiac’s logo, which Jones said would serve to align the brands more. Jones said the full transition from the old logo would take place over a period of time.
“We wanted to have some sort of synchronization of all of our different efforts and our public image under the same brand, so people understand that the work that’s being done by the MRC and tourism or territorial marketing, or economic development is all under the same organization. So it’s just trying to get everything to be unified,” Jones said about the change.
The money to update the website comes via a grant from (FRR) stream four. The work is expected to be completed by mid-August, according to Jones.
A resolution was also passed that changed the organization chart of the MRC Pontiac.
Other notable moments at the meeting included the first presentation by MRC Youth Council President Rylee Ballman. Notably, Ballman discussed the impact that the bus diver strike was having on students and their parents.
Her remarks focused on the detrimental impact of student missing classes and encouraged the government to direct the parties to find a quick resolution to the dispute.
“We are concerned that with no resolution, we will see the class trips, end-of-year trips, and grad trips canceled and the inability to attend ministerial exams,” Ballman said.
Ballman also announced that the student council would hold a carwash event to raise money for student healthcare in the Pontiac on May 27 at the MRC offices in Campbell’s Bay.
Another announcement made at the meeting was the launch of the book Les aventures mystérieuse Simeon et le train on June 12. The book was written by students at Pavillon l’Envolée de l’École les Petits-Ponts in Campbell’s Bay. The book centres on time travel in the Pontiac. The book launch will be on June 12 at the Campbell’s Bay RA Centre.
Finally, during the public question period, a disabled property owner from Mansfield-et-Pontefract complained her experience during the recent flooding, which left her unable to get to an accessible home or be reached by emergency services. The speaker demanded more action from the MRC in preventing floods.
You can watch the whole public MRC Council of Mayor’s meeting for Mayon the MRC Pontiac’s Facebook page.