Last week, The Review wrote about the priorities of three of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell’s (UCPR) six committees. Here’s part two and a half as Mayor Guy Desjardins was away and unavailable for an interview.
The fact that there are still more than 900 families and about 750 seniors waiting for public housing in Prescott-Russell is alarming to Hawkesbury Mayor Jeanne Charlebois.
Charlebois heads the UCPR’s Social Services Committee and she says addressing the lengthy waitlist is one of her priorities for the coming year.
“We are in dire need of (public housing) throughout the Counties,” said Charlebois.
The waitlist has gone down very slightly since The Review last wrote about the need for public housing, but the essential message from the UCPR remains the same: it needs more funding.
But when asked what can be done right now at the municipal level, Charlebois reiterated the need to put pressure on the provincial and federal governments and didn’t mention local strategies.
Anne Comtois Lalonde, director of Social Services for the UCPR, previously said she preferred supplementing rent for those in need of assistance as it’s possible to reach more people.
Charlebois is thinking differently.
While she said she “appreciates” supplementing rent, she added that she “prefer we build our own,” so long as the province and feds provide the funding. That way the UCPR maintains control and “knows the situation.”
The last time public housing was built in Prescott-Russell was in 1992.
Charlebois also wants to look into the need for short-term emergency housing.
“I’ve had people come into my office and say ‘I don’t have a place to stay’,” she said.
Currently, the UCPR offers one semi-detached in Hawkesbury as housing in an emergency, but the maximum stay is 21 days. According to Comtois Lalonde, the unit is consistently being used.
Charlebois wants to look into the possibility of expanding the service throughout Prescott-Russell.
Planning and Forestry
There are two main files for the Planning and Forestry Committee headed by Alfred-Plantagenet Mayor Fernand Dicaire: the cement plant and Larose Forest.
On the proposed cement plant, Dicaire said it was a divisive issue, especially going into an election later this year.
Nonetheless, “the committee has to keep moving forward,” he said but didn’t comment further.
When it comes to the Larose Forest, Dicaire said he wanted to keep developing the equestrian trails and bike paths.
“We want to open the forest,” he said, “it’s a need within Prescott-Russell.”
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