Jorge Maria LJI Reporter
The following is one in a series of articles tracking the progress in the 19 municipalities of the Pontiac since the 2017 elections.
The community of Alleyn et Cawood hasn’t let the smallness of their community prevent them from making big improvements and big plans for their future.
According to the 2016 census, just 166 people call the municipality home, though council members were quick to point out to there has been a population boom in the last year. Director General, Isabelle Cardinal, said the community had easily grown more than 20 per cent.
Over the last four years, the council has focused on fixing and maintaining the many roads in the mountain community. Alleyn et Cawood’s geography presents unique challenges since more than 50 per cent of the municipality is crown land. That means a lot of land that needs road access despite having no ratepayers living on it to pay for it. Mayor Carl Mayer said that just in the last year, they spent upwards of $500,000 on maintenance and repair. Major roads such as Copeland-Evans, Gibson, Cawood West, Cawood East have received much-needed repairs during the last four years.
New subdivisions are going up; lots split into single and three-acre parcels, all good news for the community.
While roads have been a primary focus during this term, the municipality has worked in the community providing support and recreational actives. This year they received for a grant to fund summer camps which they applied. “It was a great success. We already have parents calling us and saying, ‘Can we register next year? Can I get on the list to come back?’” Cardinal said.
During COVID, many people in the municipality’s senior population were scared to leave their homes. So the municipality set up a free grocery delivery service for some of the most vulnerable in the area.
Considering the small tax base, the community has traditionally relied on government grants to pursue various plans like their park revitalization project.
Just last week, the council passed a resolution to install a splash pad at the park, Cardinal said. Assuming funding is approved, they expect it to be installed next Spring.
Now that much of the road work is completed, the current council, if re-elected, plans to pursue more recreational activities and infrastructure.
Like many communities in the MRC Pontiac, internet access is spotty and expensive, something that is largely out of the municipality’s control. But seat three councilor Sidney Squitti, responsible for the Recreation Administration and Finance portfolios and works on the planning advisory committee, said they had spent the last few years heavily advocating for high-speed internet in the community. They have worked extensively with MP Will Amos. They are hopeful the current government plan called Operation High-speed, which seeks to cover 99 per cent of the Pontiac with high-speed internet by September 2022, comes to fruition.
For a community like Alleyn et Cawood, whose population boom has been fed by the large exodus from city centre’s during the COVID era, high-speed internet is vital for attracting newcomers.
“We want to thrive. We want to have a real sense of community and things for the children to do, things for seniors to do. “it’s great to have really nice roads for our residents to drive on,” but we need more to attract young families, Squitti said.
To that end, the council has ambitious plans for the future. They have applied for a grant to move and fix the baseball diamond; they wish to install a soccer field, build walking trails. They have also secured over $115,000 in funding from the MRC and Quebec government for an addition to their municipal office.
Long-term, they would like to build a long-term care facility in the area so that seniors can stay in a community.