I would like to start by thanking you for allowing me the pleasure of representing you once again. Council extends greetings for the New Year!
We have a fire truck now paid for! Our Fire Chief, Shawn Bowie works closely with our office, and the monthly practices are rotated between the 3 stations. We have a total of 22 combined firemen between the municipalities of Portage-du-Fort, Bryson and l'Île-du-Grand-Calumet. Our Fire dept. is trained in Ice Rescue. This year we are hoping some of our firemen will complete Water Rescue training as well. I would like to congratulate Ryan Fletcher on the completion of his Officer’s course this summer. Council purchased a Defibrillator this summer. We always welcome any persons interested in taking the Fire Safety Course (contact the office)! The new Fire Safety requirements prescribed by the province, will add expenses to our municipality’s budget in the future. The Firemen will be conducting the required home inspections for fire alarms. We will inform the residents prior to the visits.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PLAN
Our Emergency Preparedness Plan was approved by the Québec Ministry of Public Security, and is well underway. We have the first of two required dry hydrants installed (one at Cameron’s Farm and the second will be in town). Special thanks to Lisa Dagenais, our municipality’s Director General, for her commitment in this huge undertaking. Thanks to those who have added their name to the volunteer list, it is greatly appreciated! We received a grant of $16,500 towards this plan. Council is in the process of purchasing a generator for our emergency center with these funds. We would also like your cooperation in providing your contact info (phone, cell, email) to fully complete the Emergency Plan.
You may have noticed new street lights! I give full credit to Councillor Guérette who worked diligently and devoted endless months on this project, to provide the town with a cost efficient and brighter light system. This will reduce the streetlights electric bill by 30 to 40%. This project was supported through our “gas tax” grant.
WATER & FILTRATION PLANT
Our filtration plant is now up and running, after 6 years of struggles! Many thanks to our former Water Technician, Jessica Nilsson, (no longer with us due to other commitments). Don Armitage is now keeping the water testing up to date until we have a replacement technician. Thank you Don. Unfortunately, we needed to purchase new membranes this year, at an installed cost of $30,000. This has caused an increase in water service charge this year. As you might know, water is the municipality’s greatest expense. The best way I can explain, is this: the yearly cost for our water operating expense, (not the Filtration infrastructure), is $101,683. That amount is divided among the users, in our case, 119 residences. Should you require clarification on this, please see us at the municipal office.
ZIS -We helped our residents affected by the ZIS (Flood Zone Map), and made sure the corrections in our municipality were filed properly, timely and accepted.
We finally have put in place a proper taxation system saving the cost of contracting out this task. This will ensure that all are treated equally. We are fortunate that Lisa was already very knowledgeable with the system, a cost saving item there as well.
TECQ or Gas Tax Grant
In 2014 the Federal and Provincial governments allotted the municipalities’ specific sums of grant money, depending on size and population, the TECQ program. In 2014, all Municipalities in the MRC Pontiac had studies done and a report designated the main concerns or priorities per Municipality. Roads, waterlines and other interests were examined depending on the individual municipality involved. The grant has provided $457,429 towards the infrastructure project. Our designated priority is, of course, the water system. This was determined in the study. Each Municipality could choose one small project aside from the required items listed, and we choose the streetlights.
--Part one of the TECQ grant was completed on Water Lane, a loop was created to prevent freezing due to a stagnant line.
--Part two was the project on rue de l'Église. Both projects were originally sent out for tenders in 2018, without any bids. This resulted in a higher quote when we re-issued a call for tender in 2019.
--Part three was our Streetlight project, as previously discussed.
RECYCLING, GARBAGE & COMPOSTING
Late summer, the recycling cost increased from $29/ton, to $80/ton! (China is no longer taking Canadian materials for recycling). We pay $3.62 for garbage pickup at our door, one of our cheapest expenditures! Compost will be another expense in the future. This past year we attended a presentation on composting, and Councillor Brinkworth, and former Councillor Greenshield composed a flyer on the subject. Previous to this, a survey was done to see who was presently or would be willing to compost in the future. We will keep you informed as to upcoming developments. We recycle batteries, in the office (not outside on the paint bin please) during office hours. We recycle electronics, and with this come a small rebate. Please respect the time when recyclable items can be accepted. We cannot accept electronics left outside in the elements. These have to be sent to the dump at an extra cost to you the taxpayer! There is also a paint disposal bin available, during office hours as well.
Council would like to inform the residents that we have had a balanced budget, with a small surplus for the last few years. In saying this, it does not say we are debt free. Please keep in mind that we are still paying for the Filtration Plant, (we do receive grant money towards this). I look at our accomplishments; our town is clean, with beautiful heritage buildings (identified by historical plaques), a welcoming park, playground, new lights, updated waterlines and a balanced budget! We are one of the smallest municipalities, and the first to have the LED streetlights. Yes it would be wonderful to drastically reduce taxes, we all pay them, but we also have to be realistic. We have a small tax base. Our council examines carefully how the Municipality’s limited funds are utilized. There are sometimes unforeseen expenses such as water breaks, where prompt action is required. I stand behind every decision made, with full confidence in our Council. We will be starting a series of INFO Letters. The purpose of which is to give a better understanding of how the Municipality works. If this letter leaves you with questions, I will answer to the best of my ability, as always, here to serve our municipality,
Buildings, lights, garbage & grass (maintenance)
Buildings, lights, garbage & grass (maintenance)
Water & Firemen