Neighbourhood Meetings in Cookshire-Eaton : An Exercise Appreciated by Elected Officials and Citizens

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The councillors, Daphné Raymond and Marcel Charpentier, presented the projects for the Sawyerville sector.

About a hundred citizens of Cookshire-Eaton participated in neighbourhood meetings in the Cookshire, Johnville, and Sawyerville sectors. The mayor, Mario Gendron, would have liked more participants in this activity organized by the municipality, but expressed satisfaction with the exchanges.
During the presentations, the mayor, accompanied by councillors from each sector, presented the achievements of the municipality in the neighbourhoods in question during 2022, as well as the perspectives for the current year.
Among the achievements, Mayor Gendron recalled the overhaul of the municipality’s action plan, involving improvements to the organizational structure, and the search to optimize human resources and processes. Efficiency, sound management, and residential, commercial and industrial development, as well as enhancing the particularity of the territory of Cookshire-Eaton are all part of the new vision adopted by the municipal council’s team, said Mr. Gendron.
On another front, the municipality’s development strategy has been overhauled. The strategy includes five orientations: to preserve and enhance the natural character of the territory, to improve the quality of life on a continuing basis, to become an attractive tourist destination, to position the city as an alternative of choice for the Sherbrooke region, in particular taking advantage of the Sherbrooke airport that is located in the Cookshire-Eaton territory, and to create dynamic and inviting urban centres.
This overhaul was adjusted so the municipality can benefit from the subsidies offered by the Regional and Rurality Fund, explained the mayor. The regional development financial assistance program is administered jointly by the Government of Quebec and the Haut-Saint-François MRC.
Revenue Increase
Mr. Gendron emphasized the importance of increasing the municipality’s revenues. One way to achieve this is to take various actions that are likely to increase growth in its territory. In its attraction plan, Cookshire-Eaton plans to develop land for single-family housing and housing in Cookshire, Johnville, Sawyerville and even Birchton. In all, 250 housing units are planned for the next few years throughout the territory. The development of outdoor facilities, adequate sports facilities, daycare centres, local shops and the arrival of new employers should help to arouse the interest of future residents, the elected officials hope.
The mayor and councillors presented the various achievements in the neighbourhoods where the meetings took place. In Johnville, among the initiatives completed were upgrading the church to temporarily accommodate the CPE (childcare centre); expanding Fire Station No. 3; working on the water catchment structure in the Johnville Bog & Forest Park to provide water for housing projects; and carrying out work at the purification plant, plus repairing several road segments. Obviously, the Saint-Laurent and Maheux sectors were listed, plus that of Gendron Street, planned for 2024. Several other projects concerning recreation and the community were presented. Satisfied with the topics discussed, the citizens nevertheless denounced the problem of speeding in the heart of Johnville, and suggested that elected officials intervene.
The meeting in Sawyerville is the one that attracted the most citizens, with 54 people attending. Among the achievements made in this sector, councillors Daphné Raymond and Marcel Charpentier recalled the public road repairs, the replacement of wooden strips at the skating rink, work on the park trail at the dam, in particular building an observation tower. The inauguration of the new Fire Station No. 2 was a highlight of the past year.
On the list of projects to come is upgrading the Community Center, estimated at $125,000, as well as repairing the dam, estimated at $1.1 million, consisting of maintenance work required by the Government of Quebec. On this subject, a citizen, Jack Garneau, asks if it would be possible to install a plaque at the dam commemorating to the old saw and flour mill and the covered bridge of yesteryear. In terms of residences, six apartments are to be built near the fire station. In the recreation and community sector, the municipality plans to complete the project to cement the skating rink by adding anchors to eventually install a roof. This process is identical for the three sectors of the municipality. Completing the cycle path, improving the game modules, and installing urban furniture in the parks completes the to-do list.
At the end of the meeting, the citizens who attended expressed their satisfaction with the initiative. All the questions asked related to the project to renovate the community center, its maintenance and its use.
The Cookshire meeting proved to have the lowest turnout. A dozen citizens attended the meeting. Councillors Josée Pérusse and Roger Thibault presented the main achievements, starting with the infrastructure work on Eastview Street, the repair of several road segments, the launch of intergenerational operations on the Cloutier pond site and, in collaboration with the Cœur villageois, setting up a new stage for concerts at the Parc des Braves.
Future projects include building a sidewalk on Bibeau Street, accrediting the tourist welcome office, and providing support to set up a family daycare centre. In the area of industry, it is planned to develop the airport sector on private land. The municipal council is studying the possibility of a bypass for heavy trucks. Industrial development also plays a role in the projects, and the construction of three buildings is planned in the Boisé development with a capacity of 50 housing units. Renovation of the John-Cook bridge is also among the list of things to do. The councillors reminded citizens that the search for water continues. In the area of leisure, the municipality is considering developing a pump track in the medium term. Other projects in development for future years were announced during the meeting.
Returning Next Year
The mayor said he believes the neighbourhood meetings have achieved their objective. “The pulse I had from people, and this goes back seven, eight years was: we’re not informed about what you’re doing, where you’re going, what are the plans coming up, what are you going to do for the community?” Mr. Gendron is satisfied with the discussions and suggestions, which have been noted. “For me, this kind of meetings, I like them and they should come back next year,” he added.

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