---Aylmer councillors remember Alain Labonté
Reacting to former Lucerne district councillor Alain Labonté’s death on September 13 at the age of 69, local municipal councillors took time during their most recent meeting to remember the man and celebrate his impact on the community.
On September 22, as council officially expressed its sympathies to Labonté’s family, current Lucerne district councillor Gilles Chagnon delivered a heavy-hearted speech about his friendship of more 30 years with Labonté and how much he’ll miss him. Pointing to Labonté’s 14-year career as municipal councillor – from 1991 to 2005 – Chagnon said Labonté played a significant role in shaping community life and politics in Aylmer by being passionately engaged with numerous community organizations.
As a leader, the man played an integral role in supporting his district’s residents affected by the tornado of 1994, Chagnon said. Whether meeting residents while rolling through the streets in his orange Corvette or representing the population at municipal council meetings, Labonté was a man of the people through and through. Also remembering his friend and neighbour as an enthusiastic gardener, Chagnon said, “I’ll miss the daily ritual of waving hello to him while driving by in the morning. He was a great builder of Aylmer and he’s leaving us.”
Aylmer district councillor Audrey Bureau also paid hommage to Labonté by sharing some of most positive memories of him as a friend and a politician. Thankful for his constant support during her 2017 campaign, she remembers him asking for the biggest billboard she had available to set up on his property – which is how the Aylmer councillor’s billboards found their way into the Lucerne district.
Along with being a good-natured person and loyal friend, Labonté was also instrumental in supporting local young people in politics, Bureau said. “I will have very good memories of all the times I’ve spent with him,” she added. “He was very generous with his time towards causes in Aylmer. We met a lot of residents together … he gave me so much advice and words of encouragement.”
As Lucerne’s councillor from 2013 to 2017, current Deschênes councillor Mike Duggan said he’d always seen Labonté’s reputation as being a man of the community who constantly interacted with residents. “He was a great example of a councillor who was always there for the people,” Duggan said. “He was approachable and present … I wanted to be a councillor like Alain Labonté. He was someone who was going to fight for his community.”
Noting that Labonté represented the Aylmer sector both before and after its amalgamation with Gatineau, Duggan said he’s always felt a special sense of affinity to Labonté as a politician. “He’s one of those rare people.”