With one year remaining on her term as mayor of Stanstead Township, Francine Caron Markwell is determined to get a fire hall construction project off the ground.
Residents recently participated in a mail-in referendum vote to approve a loan of $1,900,000 for the construction of a new building fit for modern-day firefighters. The referendum ended with 58 per cent of residents voting against the loan.
While the result of the vote that concluded on Sunday is disheartening, said Markwell, she remains confident her council and the town’s residents can work something out in the near future.
“I was disappointed because I was hoping that the ‘yes’ would win, but it didn’t, so I have to accept that and the council has to decide what changes we can make that could be acceptable for the majority,” said Markwell.
According to the mayor, she spoke to the town’s fire chief and several firefighters about the referendum result. They were very disappointed and their morale is down, Markwell explained, so she plans to regroup and present a new action plan to the municipal council.
She is aware that her council is losing the trust of its people in Stanstead Township, but the reasoning behind the sudden distrust is lost on her. Markwell said she doesn’t fully understand why there is so much pushback on the fire hall project.
“They keep saying that we didn’t listen to the people, but I mean it’s the third project, we didn’t do the two first ones, we didn’t go ahead because we listened to them,” she said, adding that the original plan was to build a new town hall and fire hall.
But the problem for many of the ‘no’ voters is the addition of a multifunctional room in the fire hall. David Mitchell, a representative of Vision Citoyenne, the town’s municipal council watchdog, told The Record that the room adds unnecessary costs to the project.
There is also a small group of people in the town that believes the municipal council should invest money in a decrepit Anglican Church. But Markwell isn’t sure how much renovations would cost the town and, she added, the church doesn’t belong to Stanstead Township.
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