The CHIP 101.9 newsroom has followed important files throughout 2019. Here is our top 10 list of files or unresolved current affairs that could resurface in the coming months.
1- Obstetrics at the Pontiac Hospital
Nothing was more alarming and disturbing for some Pontiac residents to see that almost every week in fall 2019, the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO) announced service breaks in obstetrics at the Shawville Hospital.
The most recent break was a 21 turned into a 24 days interruption which ended yesterday, January 6th 2020. The CISSSO has a lot to prove following the press conference held last December. This file should not only attract the attention in the region, but also resurface in the National Assembly if the problems persist in the coming months, knowing that Pontiacs’ Provincial representative, André Fortin, is also the PLQ critic for health.
2- Power outages in the Upper Pontiac
Another recurrent file spanning over a few years now, is the power outages in the Upper Pontiac. A file which caught the attention of Hydro-Québec, who reacted after several articles were issued by CHIP 101.9 starting in July 2019.
2019 saw a record number of outages which remain problematic for residents and businesses in the area, who hope to see improvements in 2020. A total of 103 outages were listed in 2019, a record since the statistics were compiled starting 10 years ago.
3- The Ministry of the Environment and the Pontiac Sorting Center
In May of 2019, the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques issued a press release asking the Pontiac Sorting Center to stop depositing and burying residual materials in non authorized locations. The events publicized in the release, dating back a few years, explained why the Pontiac Sorting Center had been fined.
In December, the Sorting Center announced that they would be laying-off 32 people, specifying that it was the Ministry of the Environment that caused this situation by not allowing them to deposit materials in Litchfield. This file should resurface at the beginning of 2020 with more details from the Ministère de l’Environnement.
4- Developments within the forest industry
The closure of the Fortress plant in Thurso has caused a stir in the Pontiac forestry industry. Several weeks later, we saw the creation of the Pontiac Forestry Alliance. Meetings on the subject will certainly take a bigger place regionally and locally at the MRC Pontiac.
5- Davidson: now or never in 2020 for Bruno St-Cyr
Along the lines of the Forest industry, the Outaouais region could provide more opportunities for local importance in the Pontiac. As of now, for one of the owners of the cogeneration factory in Davidson, Bruno St-Cyr, it is “now or never”.
The project needs to begin operations this year as the debts compiled by the company could hinder its recovery. Having very strong support from the Mansfield municipal council, and the support of certain politicians, such as Warden Jane Toller, at this time Bruno St-Cyr is like a quarterback throwing a ’’Hail Mary’’ to score a touchdown at the end of the fourth quarter... There are no more chances, if he misses, the ball goes to the opposition and its games over. Meaning that if St-Cyr does not capitalize on the opportunity, the support will simply go elsewhere in the region.
According to reliable sources who have requested anonymity, the development of the company has never advanced as quickly as it has in the last few weeks. They are proceeding in the right step, but the real work will come in 2020, as we could see the continuation or the conclusion of this cogeneration project.
6- Spring floods
Unsurprisingly, the spring floods in 2019 and 2017 have been very significant in the Pontiac. Having affected almost the entire territory, from the municipality of Pontiac to Rapide-des-Joachims, the 2019 floods mobilized all of the elected members of the MRC Pontiac during special meetings and has fueled several discussions since. The floods have deeply affected the Fort-Coulonge / Mansfield, L’Isle-aux-Allumettes, Waltham, Bristol, Clarendon, Campbell’s Bay and l’Île-du-Grand-Calumet. Many of their residents may have to relocate in the future as a result of this disaster. The numerous files of residents affected by the 2019 floods are still being processed by the Ministry of Public Security, which may also likely receive attention in 2020.
7- Municipality of l’Île-du-Grand-Calumet
Despite greater stability in 2019, since this municipality has seen 5 mayors in the span of 4 years between 2013 and 2017 (Paul-Émile Maleau, Irène Nadeau, Pierre Féchette, Jean-Louis Corriveau and Serge Newberry) the municipality or l’Ile-du-Grand-Calumet has experienced a number of problems, as well as internal conflicts which marked 2019.
The Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) has been very involved in this municipality, as Councilor Réjean Meilleur has just received the verdict of the complaint concerning him and is currently suspended for 10 days. A complaint involving the director general of the municipality who, in her opinion, felt that Councilor Meilleur had threatened her to death, which was dismissed by the CMQ, concluding that only the director had perceived the situation in her own way. Adding to the ’perceived conflict of interest’ by Mayor Serge Newberry, which has also received a lot of attention in recent months and is still a subject of investigation at the CMQ, requested by the council of mayors of the MRC Pontiac (Oct 2nd). Developments are expected to come early in 2020 but what remains unknown are the repercussions on the stability of the municipality in 2020.
8- The Centre de valorisation (Biomass)
It should also be this year that concrete results will be established for the Centre de valorisation de la biomasse (Biomass Center), as suggested by the Fiber Pontiac president Pierre Vézina, almost a year ago. Knowing that spending has now exceeded $ 600,000 since 2015, elected officials have suggested behind the scenes that concrete results must be asked or move on to another strategy.
9- The capital project by the Caisse Desjardins des Rivières de Pontiac
An emotional matter for certain residents of Fort-Coulonge, further developments will come in this file which has seen recent progression, but with a lot of precautions on behalf of the Caisse Desjardins des Rivières de Pontiac. The Fort-Coulonge municipal council could still see residents asking them questions, since some citizens seem to want the municipality to be more active in this matter. Still, it seems that this subject will continue to raise certain passion among the community.
10- The local political scene
2020 is the last full year before the municipal elections. This means that it will be the moment to achieve the promises made by certain elected officials, to position themselves or reflect on their future. With 18 municipalities in the Pontiac MRC, several municipal councils could attract the attention of the newsroom and the Pontiac residents.