ATVs, Airbnb fuel mayors race in La Pêche
Hold on to your hats, we’ve got a serious race for the mayor’s seat in La Pêche and it’s kicking up some dust.
Mayoral candidate Luc Richard is going after incumbent Guillaume Lamoureux for a number of decisions he’s made in the past — and it starts with the hundreds of kilometres of ATV and snowmobile trails that have been removed from the municipality’s network.
If you ask Lamoureux, he’ll point to a 2018 public consultation in which two-thirds of residents opposed a previous bylaw that gave the Pontiac Quad Club access for its members to use municipal roads throughout La Pêche, including Parent and Des Érables Roads in Rupert, along with Cléo-Fournier in Duclos and Montée Bussière near Lac-des-Loups.
But if you ask Richard, he will argue that the consultation process was skewed, as hundreds of Edelweiss and Wakefield residents, who don’t live near the roads in question, were polled. Richard is calling for a new “real” public consultation on the issue. If elected, he would even go as far as to propose a one-year pilot project that would create a municipal trail pass for ATV and snowmobile riders to utilize municipal roads. Richard argues that such a project would bring more people into the region, who would then spend more money at local businesses. He also argues that a regulated trail system would create a safer riding experience for ATVers.
Many residents in Wakefield and Edelweiss will likely see Richard as a one-issue candidate, but his platform goes beyond just going out for a rip.
Lamoureux and Richard are sparring over a number of issues in La Pêche: Airbnb party palaces, development, affordable housing, and a big one: the proposed new town hall that Richard worries will double residents’ tax bills. Richard, a RE/MAX real estate agent, has also expressed his plans to increase development in the region and bring more events for families.
Lamoureux is in a great position to win this election simply based on his past accomplishments alone. Lamoureux, along with the help of resident and tech expert Pablo Sanchez, has made high-speed internet a reality for many rural residents, with a promise to have everyone in the municipality connected by the end of 2022. Residents will likely agree that this alone is enough to give Lamoureux another four years at the helm.
The previous four years also saw the mayor secure $4.5 million in government funding, as well as establish the La Pêche Green Fund, which has so far invested $143,539 in environmental projects throughout the municipality.
Lamoureux says if he wins he’d focus on boosting cellphone coverage in the area, as well as establish the municipality’s first-ever financial framework to better plan investments in La Pêche.
Does Richard have enough fuel in his ATV to rip into the mayor’s seat, or are Lamoureux’s past successes just too damn good to give him the boot?
We’ll find out Nov. 7.