The municipality of Low has lost its sixth director-general in as many years.
After a year and a half of cleaning up the books in Low, director-general Sandra Martineau is leaving her post.
Martineau has tendered her resignation with the municipality, and her last day will be on Dec. 1. She leaves behind an administration with a troubling history — one fraught with controversies, a fraud charge, conflicts of interest and a small wave of residents who never seem to be happy with councillors during public meetings.
Martineau is the sixth director-general to leave Low since 2017, and although she said she’s leaving because she’s “getting older” and wants to “do something new,” it’s no secret that some residents made her time in Low not so enjoyable.
“Low was a lot of work, but I knew what I had to do,” Martineau told the Low Down. She isn’t exaggerating when she says it was a lot of work. Martineau took over several “incomplete files” and was able to help council adopt several outdated bylaws over the past year — most notably a public peace and order bylaw that outlines how councillors must act in public meetings and how residents must treat elected officials.
Martineau quickly became the voice of Low, speaking to media outlets about the town’s finances, bylaws and other administration issues, as Mayor Carole Robert often refuses to speak on the record. Martineau always answered our queries.
She also worked to fully restore the aqueduct system in Low, which had been dogged by problems for years. Under her guard, the municipality installed new water pumps and equipment at the Fieldville water station. Mayor Robert did not return calls regarding Martineau’s resignation.
Martineau was also instrumental in clearing up an old tax file from 2020, which had eluded council for years.
The file was a court order for a resident to pay back tax money, which council previously forgave. After uncovering the document, the municipality recouped close to $15,000 in back taxes.
And Martineau was integral during a conflict-of-interest scandal involving a councillor and a family member’s tax file in April. Martineau vehemently defended the councillor and recorded accurate minutes that eventually cleared the councillor of wrongdoing.
Martineau was the target of personal attacks from at least two residents and said, at times, they made her feel like “I’m not good at my job, even if I’m not responsible for what I have to fix.”
“It’s never an easy job to work for municipalities because people complain directly to them sometimes, but they are all doing their best to get the work done with the budget that the municipality has,” added Martineau. “Since I gave my resignation, I have gotten a lot of nice comments, and it’s really touching. I felt appreciated. I’ll miss the team; they are all hard workers in Low.”
“She’s awesome,” said Low Coun. Maureen Rice. “Like, she really is awesome. Some of us are upset that she is leaving. It was a surprise. We’re devastated and going to miss her.”
Martineau is taking on a new role as a purchaser within the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais. Before Low, Martineau spent 21 years in La Pêche, first as a clerk and later as the municipality’s finance director from 2014 to 2022.