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2015 DAY CAMP
The Municipality of Pontiac is aware that many parents are concerned with respect to the absence of day camp services for this summer which, until now, had been organized by Groupe Action Jeunesse (GAJ), and wishes to clarify information that was given by GAJ either on their Website or in a letter that several parents received through the school.
Part of this concern is related to the fact that Groupe Action Jeunesse (GAJ) has decided to no longer organize the summer day camp as of this year. It should be noted that this decision was taken by their Board of Directors in the month of April in 2014 and was justified by the fact that their volunteers felt they could no longer cater to the needs of the community. Consequently, their Board of Directors therefore decided, by resolution, to “place the responsibility in the hands of the Municipality of Pontiac”. It should also be noted that the Municipality of Pontiac had not been consulted before their decision was taken, and it wasn’t until the day following the registration to activities, organized by GAJ and held in May of 2014, that the municipality received over one hundred enrolment forms filled out by parents, together with the GAJ resolution. Given the short deadline and the parents’ expectations, it was agreed that GAJ would continue organizing the day camp for the summer of 2014, in order to consider a solution for 2015. Meanwhile, the municipality identified solutions to alleviate the workload of their volunteers, with respect to processing the employee payroll.
The Municipality has supported GAJ for several years by granting them annual funding to help them organize their activities. Furthermore, an agreement between the Portages de l’Outaouais School Board, the Municipality and GAJ has allowed the community to benefit from the use of the gymnasium at the Notre-Dame-de-la-Joie School, free of charge. Also, the gymnasium as well as the community centre in Luskville, are lent to GAJ (free of charge) for the day camp (March break, summer camp). GAJ has also had the use of a space within the community centre for storage, for several years at no cost.
During the course of discussions with GAJ and during the 2015 municipal budget preparations, the municipal administration and council have concluded that the Municipality of Pontiac is not able to take over the responsibility of managing the day camp for 2015, considering the financial and human resources needed and the restructuring currently underway in several departments of the municipality. This information was relayed to GAJ in the fall of 2014, before the deadline to submit annual requests for funding from recreation organizations was due. The request submitted by GAJ did not include the organization of the day camp for the summer of 2015 and consequently, they requested $6,000 instead of $8,500, a difference of $2,500 that in principal was used for organizing the summer day camp. The municipality offered to extend them the same amount as in previous years, in the event that they would change their mind on organizing the day camp for the summer of 2015.
As noted above, the municipal administration is not in a situation where it can take over the responsibility of adequately organizing such an activity. This situation could change, in particular with the development of a family policy, but it is important to note that there is no actual recreation department at the municipal level and that childcare services or the organization of a day camp, are not of municipal jurisdiction established by Law. Several municipalities offer this service, but not all. Moreover, a number of community organizations and private companies offer day camp services, and thus, in a completely autonomous manner and independently of municipal administration.
As stated by the Mayor in his report on the budget adopted last November, this year will be a year of many challenges for the municipality. For example, the challenges of absorbing significant cost increases, the measures imposed by the Quebec government and the increase in shares payable to the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais which represents an increase of more than $200,000 in terms of expenditures.
The municipal Council therefore had to make certain decisions in order to meet its additional expenses while restructuring municipal services, in order to better serve the population without inappropriately increasing the level of taxation, which traditionally has been among the lowest in the Outaouais. This will require significant efforts on behalf of the personnel and also involved the creation of new jobs that, for the moment, have not all been filled. In other words, the administration is not yet in a position where it can seriously consider taking over the responsibility of such an activity. Moreover, the amount of $2,500 is still available to any organization who would like to undertake organizing a day camp for the summer of 2015, if GAJ formally decides to opt out.
The municipality will seek to identify all options that could help parents in fulfilling this important need. To that effect, we wish to inform you that on February 21st and 22nd, a Day Camp Fair will take place at the Galeries d’Aylmer shopping centre. Until the return of a summer day camp in the Municipality of Pontiac, this Fair could, at least on a temporary basis, offer a solution to your needs.
Posted on Feb. 17, 2015