Pictures at left, Mayoral candidate Pierre Leroux spoke out very passionately about the Russell Library’s mistreatment of an autistic boy. Pictured at right, Mayoral candidate Charles Armstrong said that seniors require more safety within the community including safer homes and more sidewalks and streetlights. Glover photos
EMBRUN – Residents of Embrun came together at the Recreational Centre Wed., Oct. 10 to ask the municipal election candidates the tough questions about their support of local seniors, the possibility of amalgamation and the shutdown of arenas in the area.
However, the candidates found themselves cornered with a difficult question involving an autistic child being told he wasn’t allowed to return to the local library because they were not “well-equipped” to deal with a child on the spectrum. The candidates were noticeably disgusted and angry with Russell Library for their treatment of a child with a disability.
Councillor candidate Rick Renaud stated that the library should’ve never acted in that way and that if the mother had brought this to the attention of the council, something would’ve been done.
“It is unacceptable and I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t have stood for it,” he said. “If you had brought that to my attention then I would have made sure that this action was rectified immediately.”
Councillor candidate and president of the Russell Library board Mike Tarnowski took a safer answer to avoid taking sides by stating he was not going to jump to conclusions without getting the full story.
“I am disappointed as everyone else to hear that kind of information but I’m not going to jump to conclusions as to why that happened because I don’t know all the details and that’s something I would caution anyone to do,” he said. “We would definitely want to know more about this story, it’s not in the policy of the library to do any kind of excluding, so whether it was appropriate or not, I won’t comment on the details.”
Mayoral candidate Pierre Leroux went straight for the throat, pointed at Tarnowski and said that he would’ve called him because of his position with the Russell Library board.
“It’s unbelievable that happened and you ask what I would’ve done, I would’ve called him [pointing at Tarnowski], he’s the president and I would’ve had a frank discussion with him about it,” he said. “When it comes to the library board, it’s actually separate from council. Municipal council actually funds the library but it’s separate from council, they have their own board, I would’ve brought the incident to the attention of Mr. Tarnowski and we would’ve discussed how to deal with this issue in a civil matter with the parents.”
Another question that was brought to the attention of the candidates was what they would do to support the seniors that live in the community.
Councillor candidate Cindy Saucier declared that senior support was one of her platform planks, stating her concern with safer neighbourhoods and ways for seniors to get around easier.
“I’m very concerned about safe neighbourhoods with sidewalks and other ways to make it easier for seniors to get around and that there’s some connectivity in the subdivisions, which I’m not seeing in many cases,” she said. “So that’s a safety issue for seniors. I also want accessibility, so access to buildings can be safer for seniors and those with disabilities. I also mentioned a long-term care facility, we have Russell Meadows but we have nothing after that.”
Councillor candidate Nicolas Daoust says that he learned a lot speaking with the seniors within the community about how they want to get more involved.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of our older residents in this past election and they do want to be more part of this community,” he said. “They want to do stuff outside of their homes, a lot of them say they want aqua-fitness, they want more activities to get active. They just want to get more involved and we should be working with them to see how we can fulfill their needs.”
Mayoral candidate Charles Armstrong spoke as one of the senior candidates at the table, saying that more facilities are needed for safer senior homes as well as more sidewalks and streetlights for safer night walking and driving.
“There are a few things that we should be able to do more. We need more facilities where a senior can simply leave their home, apartment or condo without problem,” he said. “In addition we also need sidewalks, streetlights etc. Other things need to change, for example, my mother out in Riverton goes on the walking path around our dome for free and things like that go a long way to making a senior feel at home.”
The mayoral candidates were asked about the possibility of amalgamation with the city and the Township of Russell and whether or not there have been any talks about it. Both Leroux and Armstrong gave quick, to-the-point answers.
“Simple answer, no,” said Leroux. “No councillor has ever approached me to discuss amalgamation. Obviously I’d bring to council if it was brought up but nope, it hasn’t.”
Armstrong simply added, “Completely agree.”
A question was brought to council concerned with the possibility of arenas being shutdown in the area after Prescott lost their arena, which would be a shame to all the youth hockey players in the area.
Councillor candidate Jaime Laurin agrees that something needs to be kept in check for the aging buildings in the area to ensure the safety of everyone that uses the facility.
“The reality is that we do need to do something about our aging facilities. Almost 50 years old, running on ammonia, we do need to ensure the safety and security of everyone that goes in,” he said. “So, for me, I absolutely support recreational complexes. Years ago, this facility was brought to our attention and I asked what is our plan if this doesn’t happen and years later, we’re still planning. It’s time to stop planning and start doing.”
Councillor candidate Isabelle St-Amour said that a recreation facility is a perfect way to create a community hub but the complex needs to be built in a responsible matter.
“The facility needs to be built in a responsible manner. If we’re going to start with an ice rink then we need to create a wall that is facing open space so that we can tag on a pool at the end or continuing on the facility, so that we’re responsibly building a building that we can afford and sustain.” she said.
Richard Kargus, councillor candidate, stated that ideas around the recreational centre could become too costly and too long term. He says that the condition that the arena is in should be a primary concern first.
“An indoor pool, these are all ideas that when faced with reality, become cost-prohibited. I see that we’re having feasibility for three pacts of ice is phenomenal but that’s a long term thing,” he said. “In the short term, there’s no way these arena should’ve been left in the condition that they’re in, skating up and down I see the condition that it’s in. We have to fix things now, we have to address these concerns now.”
Voting for the municipal election starts today (Wed., Oct. 17) until Mon., Oct. 22.
Reporter/Photographer for Chesterville Record and Eastern Ontario Agrinews. Currently working on Record segment, “Chilling Tales from Beyond”