The Township of East Hawkesbury is trying to refocus its recreation policy.

A bylaw is currently before council which if adopted, will consolidate the recreation committees of St-Eugène, Sainte-Anne-de-Prescott, and Chute-à-Blondeau into a single recreation committee for the entire township.

East Hawkesbury council held a public consultation on the proposed bylaw on Monday, September 18. More than 30 residents attended, many representing various sports and leisure organizations. All council members were present, except for Mayor Robert Kirby.

Councillor Monique Desjardins said she first suggested making the changes in September 2022 because she believes more recreation programming and services are needed in all the communities for all ages.

“I want to be a lively, active municipality,” she said.

Desjardins wants to have a single, primary organization in East Hawkesbury which can focus on programming for youth, adults, and seniors.

An audience member asked if switching to a single recreation committee would result in the loss of activities. Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Luc Lalonde assured the audience no services would be eliminated. Councillor Stéphanie Sabourin said the intent of having a single committee is to instead improve recreation services. Lalonde said there would be no reduction in the recreation budget either.

However, Desjardins said the recreation committee and various organizations should also continue to fundraise to supplement the municipal recreation budget.

“We will encourage fundraising,” she said.

The new, single committee will have nine members. Another audience member asked why that number was proposed. Lalonde explained that three individuals would represent each village or area and the number would ensure no village or area has majority control of the committee.

Lalonde also said the separate committees which oversee the management of the community centre in Chute-à-Blondeau and the Centre d’Action facility in Sainte-Anne-de-Prescott will remain in place.

Claude Lachaîne, the new Principal of École élémentaire catholique Curé Labrosse in St-Eugène said she supports the township’s plan because it fits in with her goal to instill community pride among students.

Justin Lavigne of Sainte-Anne-de-Prescott, who is involved in community activities both as a volunteer and parent, said the single committee will be better for including all youth living in East Hawkesbury in activities.

“All of my kids go the same school as the kids in Chute-à-Blondeau and St-Eugène,” he remarked.

Other East Hawkesbury residents, such as self-employed yoga instructor Denise Sukkau and David Sherwood, who is a volunteer with a local Catholic parish, are pleased that the township will continue to promote their external activities and events on the municipal website.

East Hawkesbury council will vote on the proposed bylaw to establish a single recreation committee at the next council meeting on October 10. A nomination meeting will be held on November 1 at a time and location yet to be determined.