• Stuart Benson

La Pêche elections could go offroad

The gloves are coming off in La Pêche.


Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux is set to battle it out with Lac-des-Loups resident Luc Richard over the La Pêche mayor's seat in the upcoming Nov. 7 election.


Incumbent La Pêche Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux (left) faces Luc Richard in the race for La Pêche mayor. Supplied photos
Incumbent La Pêche Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux (right) faces Luc Richard in the race for La Pêche mayor. Supplied photos

Richard submitted his candidate documents just before the submission deadline at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 1 in a manner that mirrored Lamoureux’s entrance into the 2017 mayoral election race.


Lamoureux, who had worked for the MRC Vallée-de-la-Gatineau as a regional coordinator in water treatment and waste management, quietly entered the race against Robert Bussière, who had held onto the role for 20 years, just hours before the submission deadline without any formal campaign launch or announcement. Lamoureux won the 2017 election against Bussière by just 32 votes, earning 50.5 per cent of the vote.


Richard previously ran for municipal council in 2010, against the late Louis Rompré for Ward 6.


The Low Down received a tip on Oct. 3 that when Richard submitted his documents, he was accompanied by current Ward 2 councillor Michel Gervais, who had previously announced would not be seeking re-election.


After being contacted by the newspaper, Richard confirmed that Gervais had been helping him with preparations for the campaign, after Richard sought him out for advice and tips on what to do and what not to do in order to run a successful campaign.


However, Richard denied the implication that he was part of an election slate with the former councillor.


“Absolutely not,” Richard said. “Mr. Gervais and I are not teaming up, that's for sure.”


While Richard hasn’t completed his campaign platform yet, he explained that one of his main issues would be attracting more people to the municipality by encouraging more housing development and offering more activities and events for families. He said his full platform would be completed in a week or so.


“I want to see the municipality growing with new families and new developments,” Richard said.


‘Pro-ATV candidates’


While Lamoureux said he doesn’t personally know Richard, he does remember him from a contentious debate over the use of ATVs on municipal roadways that took place early in Lamoureux’s mayoral tenure.


Prior to the election in 2017, the previous council had hastily passed a bylaw, which had been proposed by the Pontiac Quad Club, requesting access for its members to use municipal roads throughout La Pêche, including Parent and Des Érables Roads in Rupert, along with CléoFournier in Duclos and Montée Bussière near Lac-des-Loups.


According to Lamoureux, the consultation process had been overlooked for the initial bylaw, and was hastily adopted prior to the 2017 election with little effort to inform the public of the consequences and purpose of the bylaw.


“We stopped the bylaw going through and did a major consultation process and received hundreds of comments,” Lamoureux explained.


A commission was set up in 2018 to examine the issue, and a public consultation was held in September. The commission spent nearly two months compiling all of the feedback from residents into a report that was used to help council make its final decision. Overall, two-thirds of all comments submitted were opposed to the project.


One of the more vocal advocates for the resolution, Lamoureux recalled, was Richard, but he isn’t the only candidate Lamoureux said he recognizes from the pro-ATV camp.


“It's clear to me that when you look at some of the candidates running, there are a few who were involved in the pro-ATV group,” Lamoureux said, though he would not identify any of the other candidates he was referring to.


When council voted to repeal the ATV bylaw, the majority of council members voted in favour and explained that their decision had been informed by the overwhelming negative feedback from residents. The lone exception was Gervais, who recused himself from the vote.


“I commend anyone that runs for municipal government,” Lamoureux said. “But that government has to focus on many issues, so you hope that people are not campaigning for a personal or single issue, but rather have a complete vision on municipal affairs.”


Polling day for the upcoming municipal elections is Nov. 7, and advanced polling days are Oct. 30 and 31.