Rigorous management of the budget, transparency in the municipal council, security and development are the principal themes addressed by the three candidates for the position of mayor of Cookshire-Eaton, Sylvie Lapointe, Yvon Roy and Marc Turcotte.
After one term as municipal councillor, Sylvie Lapointe proposes a rural municipality where primary services such as infrastructure, public works, fire protection, first responders, public security, recreational and cultural activities, sports and other services all contribute to the collective well-being of the community. Recognizing that a certain discomfort exists between the new direction of Loisirs Cookshire and herself, Lapointe promises it will not alter her judgment. «I will not ignore them. If the existing committee wants to do things, the door will be open to their requests,» she said in French.
On another note, the candidate would like to consolidate and develop the distinctive character of the six districts of the municipality. She suggested that Johnville will see residential development, while Sawyerville constitutes «a touristic gem» with the development of the dam and foot paths. She added that Sawyerville can offer urban development in a rural setting. The Cookshire sector represents the nucleus, and must also be developed. In Lapointe’s view, the extension of Route 410 around Lennoxville will contribute to a 30% increase in traffic on Route 108 leading to Cookshire.
The candidate wishes to build on certain sectors, notably tourism, industry and commerce. «It’s something to develop; we need to bring people to our area. The internet in Johnville and Sawyerville, we need to look into that.» She is considering reviewing, with the municipal council, the terms of welcome taxes, and putting in place a policy of tax exemption for new arrivals. «On the long term, we will be winners.»
Member of the outgoing council, Lapointe advocates greater transparency. «The administration was good,» she explained, but «people need to be more aware of what is happening.» The way of doing this has not yet been finalized, whether by a small monthly bulletin or by other means. «I want to make people aware of decisions that are going to be made, to say ‘We’re doing this, and next month, we’ll be doing that.’ To let people know what their taxes are paying for.» On another note, Lapointe considers that the municipal personnel are highly competent. However, she believes that certain tasks are not distributed correctly, and she would like to review how things are done.
Considering his 20 or so years of experience in the municipal milieu for the Municipality of Cookshire-Eaton and Eaton, the outgoing councillor Yvon Roy believes his experience gives him the competencies necessary for assuming the position of mayor. «I have done my job to the maximum, I am committed to serving my fellow citizens,» he said, speaking in French. The candidate is focusing on citizens’ quality and security. Saying he is satisfied with the fire services, Roy wishes to construct a new fire station for the firefighters of the Sawyerville sector. He would also like to add a third door to the station in Johnville. Further to the topic of security, Roy proposes to make the school corridors more secure in the municipality, particularly that of the Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix School in Johnville, by creating a drop-off area behind the building. Considering the extension of Route 410, the candidate sees the housing development in this area as important, but without neglecting the other areas in the municipality. The arrival of new families is important to Roy. He proposes to encourage industrial, touristic and other development. «We have to attract them,» he said. The candidate proposes to develop an incentive program that permits families to find housing at an affordable cost.
On the topic of the quality of life, Roy would like the community to have available such necessary elements as adequate community centres and an urban park that responds to their needs. In this sense, he proposes to install water parks, starting in the spring of 2018, in the Cookshire, Sawyerville and Johnville districts. Road repairs remain a preoccupation for the candidate. Roy said he commits to working for the development of the municipality, but to do so always while respecting the budget and the taxpayers’ ability to contribute.
The rigorous management of expenditures and transparency are at the heart of Marc Turcotte’s commitments. In the candidate’s view, planning expenditures should include short-term, medium-term and long-term visions. «I am a planner,» he said in French. He sees it as essential to prioritize and justify the choices in terms of the necessity of investments. He would validate needs and establish a process of inquiry. Is it necessary and useful, and does it respond to the taxpayers’ desires? For example, he mentioned that «it’s been proposed that we close the pool in Cookshire and replace it with a water park. Have we verified with the public whether or not they want the pool? I would like to know why we would get rid of an asset.» He added that he would like each economic or community project to undergo a search for a consensus and a needs-analysis. «It is necessary that a collective approach involving understanding and solidarity among politicians, administration personnel, and citizens be put into place in order for our collective choices to be the most representative possible of the interests of citizens.» Turcotte would also like to consult citizens about a global plan for the next four years. «It’s the price to pay for doing things differently and democratizing municipal affairs,» he said. In this spirit, he wants to develop an information and consultation network accessible to the community in both French and English. How to do this is to be determined, but this aspect is essential, in his view.
Turcotte wants to make sure that the services offered by municipal personnel are as effective as possible. In this light, he hopes that the various services will have objectives with a method of evaluation. He proposes to put in place a telephone line for complaints. «Citizens have the right to complain and should obtain responses quickly,» he said. The candidate believes that the municipality should work on improving its assets, complete its urban development, and plan infrastructures for senior citizens and young families. Conscious of the importance of attracting new businesses, the candidate said «we should prepare our industrial zones in Cookshire and Sawyerville, but always within the context of tight and well-planned budget management.»
Asked whether the municipality needs a development organization such as Cookshire-Eaton Innovation, two candidates said yes, and one said no. Sylvie Lapointe said, «Yes, in the sense that we have to have the right persons around the table. It’s a very good asset, but it should focus more in the direction of small businesses. We have to furnish our small buildings.» Lapointe also spoke about an industrial motel that could accommodate 10 or so small businesses. For Yvon Roy, it is clear that the municipality needs what he considers to be an important tool for development. «With Cookshire-Eaton Innovation, we will be working to create businesses and housing. It’s important to maintain it.»
For Marc Turcotte, such an organization is not necessary. He proposes to put into place an office of projects that will look at all the proposals coming from the community or that are economic in nature. «At this moment, we will obtain the necessary professionals. Cookshire-Eaton Innovation is not the tool. We do not need a particular structure. If Cookshire-Eaton Innovation stays in place, it should become the board of directors of the office of projects. It’s going to have to prove its interest.»
Regarding the question of whether the municipality made an error in endorsing the project to construct a building that would house the microbrewery, Lapointe said no. «It was not an error, but it was big for a small community such as ours. The percentage of debt will go up. Will that block us from other projects? We will see.» She added, «the project had advanced so far. Everything was in place.» For the future, the candidate hopes that efforts would focus on furnishing existing buildings and maybe, later, building an industrial motel that could bring together 10 or so small businesses.
For Roy, it was not a mistake. «There are enough people. The important thing is that we are giving our support with a guarantee; we are protected all the way.» For Turcotte, «It was a mistake to have acted in a way that holds citizens hostage. The error is in the process.» It would have been preferable, in his view, to consult the citizens in the beginning, and to ask whether they would like to have an industrial motel. «We have to test whether the need is there.»
If she is elected, Sylvie Lapointe said she would quit her job in order to devote herself full-time to her new duties as mayor. For Roy, his vast experience offers the necessary assets to serve taxpayers. As for Turcotte, he proposes to do things differently.