Same taxes, fewer services?
Councillor Duggan surveys rural residents
Various rural Aylmer residents received a letter this summer from Lucerne councillor Mike Duggan, who is seeking feedback on issues affecting rural areas.
Mr. Duggan explained, “Since beginning my political life, I’ve noticed a disconnect between urban and rural life where rural residents are taxed at the same levels as urban residents (with some exceptions), but do not appear to be receiving the level of services that would provide a similar quality of life. With a weaker population density, there may be insufficient voter numbers to influence our policies and decisions, and also some services are too expensive to provide over such an extended area.”
Dave Reford, a North Aylmer beef farmer, agrees the voices of rural residents can sometimes fall on deaf ears. “Rural subjects have been put on the back burner as we are a small percentage of the overall population. That fact is definitely understood by Mr. Duggan,” he told the Bulletin.
Raymond Huneault, a well-known local winemaker, holds a different opinion. “The city respects us. We don’t have any particular problems because we live in the rural zone,” he told the Bulletin. “The city, for example, set up signs along the street near my business for my customers to park. My parking area is too small and the city fixed it for me. During winter, the city clears the roads here for three or four houses and that must cost a fortune.”
Mr. Huneault lives on Baillie Road and is one of the roughly 1,000 rural addresses spanning all four Aylmer (Aylmer, Lucerne, Deschênes, and Plateau) wards. These addresses are considered rural because they are located outside Gatineau’s urban perimeter, as defined in the city’s land-use management plan. This plan, approved by the city, has yet to be approved by Quebec.
Councillor Duggan is attempting to unify a common rural voice and identify the interests and perspectives of so-called ‘North Aylmer’ residents. Mr. Duggan has been working on certain issues since his election -- largely road conditions and traffic, decisions imposed without consultation, and policies designed for urban areas which don’t reflect rural life, such as the city’s tree-cutting policy.