le Jeudi 26 mai 2022
le Jeudi 10 Décembre 2020 17:30 Autres - Others

Warden Leroux talks about an unusual year

The year 2020 proved to be a very unusual year for Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux (above with mayors Daniel Lafleur and Robert Kirby) during his term as warden for the United Counties of Prescott-Russell. — supplied photo
The year 2020 proved to be a very unusual year for Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux (above with mayors Daniel Lafleur and Robert Kirby) during his term as warden for the United Counties of Prescott-Russell.
supplied photo
As he prepares to step down as warden for the United Counties of Prescott-Russell, Pierre Leroux reflects on what has been a very unusual year to be the political leader for the region.

“When I pictured me being the warden (for 2020), this was not the year I was expecting,” said Leroux, during a phone interview November 30.

Leroux has occupied the warden’s chair before, and during his inauguration last December for his latest turn as head of the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR), his main concerns then were continuing to promote economic development opportunities for the region, dealing with infrastructure needs, and trying to resolve the ongoing problem of the City of Ottawa making heavy demands on the UCPR ambulance service while refusing to pay for the privilege.

Having to shepherd Prescott-Russell through a global pandemic was the last thing Leroux would have imagined he would be doing. Everything he and others had planned for 2020 got pushed aside when all the Emergency State of Health orders were declared by federal, provincial, and regional authorities.

“Fortunately, I have had a lot of experience with (information) technology,” Leroux said, “so I feel I was well equipped for the transition to virtual meetings and such.”

Leroux added that the new reality of virtual dealings for all UCPR business, from the monthly council meetings to dealing online with provincial and federal officials over local issues, along with all the normal business of dealing with local residents on land use issues and other concerns, has proven “very productive.” He credited UCPR staff, council members, and the general public with adapting and trying to make things work.

“We’re all doing our best to stay healthy,” he said. “It is great seeing the people and the staff coming together on this. And hats off to our frontline workers because they are the ones who need to be highlighted.”

Leroux also credited UCPR staff for trying to create “some sense of normalcy” for the region by dealing with ordinary work like road improvements and working on land issues. He also credited the region’s paramedics for responding to increased demands on their time and skills to help out at local long-term care facilities during COVID-19 outbreaks and he praised staff at the Prescott-Russell Residence for their “professional efforts” during the current outbreak at that facility.

Leroux takes off the warden chain of office at the December 16 inaugural session, which will be a limited-access in-person affair for the mayors on UCPR council and department heads. The meeting will be available online to the general public.

Mayor Stéphane Sarrazin of Alfred-Plantagenet Township takes over as UCPR warden for 2021. Leroux noted that 2021 may be similar in some ways to 2020 as the pandemic continues, even through hope of a vaccine now exists.

“But I have all the confidence in the world in Stéphane,” Leroux said.