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'We want our town back': Ongoing issues bring Matheson residents together

The group is working to set up a ratepayers association
About 150 residents from Matheson partook in a meeting at the Floyd Hembruff Civic Centre Curling Club on March 12 to discuss ongoing issues in the town.

BLACK RIVER-MATHESON - Concerned Matheson residents gathered yesterday (March 12) to discuss ongoing issues in the township.

The community meeting was at the Floyd Hembruff Civic Centre Curling Club immediately following a rally for the 14 striking CUPE Local 1490 members.

It was organized by four individuals — Pauline Francis, Dan Charbonneau, Diane Pearson and Wendy Morrish.

Francis told TimminsToday there were about 150 people in attendance including some union members and Timiskaming-Cochrane NDP MPP John Vanthof.

“Last night's meeting was a success and brought out a lot of people that want to assist in any way they can. The morale is good and determination has certainly increased with all of the situations, I guess you can call it, that's been going on here,” she said.

“Everybody is on the same page here, we want our town back."

SEE: Matheson cancels third straight council meeting, union files for judicial review

The topics at the meeting included town budgets, a petition calling for intervention from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, public and financial accountability and transparency, town administration, as well as the ongoing strike.

“A lot of people were not aware ... we've had three councillors resign. The public is not really getting all that information because most of it is put on Facebook. A lot of our population here are seniors who don't have access to the internet and people that live in the country, I don't even think have internet. It was new information to a lot of them last night,” Francis said.

“Everybody was very calm and cool and collected and engaged in getting the community back.”

According to Francis, Vanthof participated in the meeting and answered questions about municipal affairs.

"So he was a very information tool for the government side of things last night,” she said.

Francis said they are setting up a ratepayers association to “get their town back.”

“There’s like 21 people who came forward to put their names in to be a member. But we have to incorporate it, so there’s a little bit of work to be done first, then we'll be doing a vote,” she said.

The board will consist of 11 individuals and include two members from each community — Holtyre, Ramore, Matheson, Val Gagné and Shillington.

“Once we get incorporated, we’ll have a meeting with the public and do a vote,” Francis said.

Once everything is established, Francis said they plan to have a monthly meeting.

“We will also have a spokesperson who will be attending council meetings,” she said.

“We decided that we need to have a voice in this community. And the only way to have a voice is to set up a ratepayers association.”

Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Marissa Lentz covers civic issues along the Highway 11 corridor under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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