Municipal Council meetings return after summer vacation
On August 23, the city council gathered for their first meeting back since the summer break. Starting off the meeting, City of Gatineau mayor, France Bélisle, highlights her priorities for the fall season.These priorities include defining the police and fire services offer, making decisions for cultural, sports, recreational and community infrastructures, as well as a summit to find solutions for the housing crisis.In terms of the environment the priorities this fall are to create a biodiversity charter as well as a pesticide policy. Implementing a compost program for industry, commerce and institutions is also a priority along with announcing a call for tender for gas recovery in the former cook landfill.
For transportation the priorities are to transition STO to multimodal and electronic as well as find solutions for better transit for the residents in the west of Gatineau.Many Gatineau residents used the public intervention period to question the council on a number of issues. The following provides an update on the topics discussed at the August 23 municipal council meeting.PesticidesDominique Henrie spoke to the council about the use of harmful pesticides that are used on the Gatineau territory and end up in rivers, fields and lawns. Henries works with the Regroupement des Cuisines Collective de Gatineau and coordinates the garden to table project.
She highlights the work of Gatineau Sans Pesticide, a group that has been working to ban pesticides in the region, as well as the harmful effects of these chemicals. She called on the councillors to listen to the science and prohibit the use of pesticides for the health of residents, the earth, water as well as the food we eat. Henrie asks the council to consider other options going forward. A representative from Gatineau Sans Pesticide also addressed the council on this subject.Bélisle responded by highlighting that the file will be a priority this fall. Belisle states that she believes that the city will reach their goals with this file soon.Homelessness CrisisFrancine Lorange took the mic to call on the council to take action on the homelessness issues in the City. Lorange highlights that her neighbourhood in the Hull-Wright district has many people experiencing homelessness and it is affecting the area. She said many residents have their cars broken into to find individuals sleeping in their car or on their property. She questions the council on the work the Shock committee is doing as the problem is severe and ongoing. She suggests that the committee should include those that are homeless so they can communicate their needs to the City.
Steve Moran, Hull-Wright district councillor, acknowledged the current homelessness crisis stating that they are working to find a solution. Moran highlights although it may be inconvenient the priority must be those experiencing homelessness. Finally, Moran states that community organisations, Gatineau and Centre intégré de santé et des services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO) are working to find solutions.Deforestation in the PlateauAlain Pilon addressed the council, more specifically the Mayor, on behalf of the Residents Association of the Plateau about preserving nature and green spaces in the area. Specifically, Pilon references the cutting of trees and backfilling of the plot of land at the corner of Des Allumettières and Boulevard des Grives. Pilon notes the discontent of the community as there has yet to be a project submitted for the lot but the owners were approved to cut trees. Bélisle responds by stating that it is not the Mayor's office that approves the work; however, two teams were sent to the area to ensure that the work being done was valid. Bélisle reassures residents that she has asked the city departments to verify once again that the work being done is regulation.Paratransit in GatineauVéronique Roth, a Gatineau Resident and Société de Transport de L'outaouais (STO) paratransit user, addressed the council to speak about her experience with the Paratransit service interruptions and STO employees. Roth states that the accommodations that were offered to those using the services were not sufficient. According to the resident when speaking on the phone about the situation an STO employee was laughing. Roth states that Gatineau is not supporting the disabled population and the situation was unacceptable. Jocelyn Blondin, President of the administrative council for the STO and Councillor for the Manoir-des-Trembles-Val-Tétreau district, responded by apologising on behalf of the STO for the conveniences and explaining that the booking system service was down due to a cyber attack on the external server. The service is not owned by the STO.This resulted in paratransit services being coordinated manually which took more time and had to be reduced to medical appointment only. Blondin highlights that the STO prioritises accessible transportation and that paratransit services are back to normal.