Bilin­gual towns in trou­ble

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier Ayer's Cliff

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Ayer’s Cliff, which is sit­ting on a bud­get sur­plus of over $800,000 and so is in a promis­ing po­si­tion to look ahead, is plan­ning its fu­ture and is now equipped with a Lo­cal Devel­op­ment Plan that spans the years 2013 to 2027. “We re­ceived a grant of $20,000 from the Sou­tien aux ter­ri­toires en dif­fi­culte for the study,” com­mented Ayer’s Cliff mayor Alec van Zuiden in an in­ter­view with the Stanstead Jour­nal.

Sit­ting un­com­fort­ably with his arm in a sling as a re­sult of a dan­ger­ous fall from his horse in Novem­ber, Mr. van Zuiden was en­thu­si­as­tic as he spoke about many of the in­ter­est­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties that ci­ti­zens and lo­cal stake­hold­ers will con­sider as the town plans its fu­ture.

“We’d like to see full pub­lic ac­cess to the lake here in Ayer’s Cliff for all Ayer’s Cliff res­i­dents; oth­ers would have to pay a fee, sim­i­lar to how it’s

done at Merry Point, in Ma­gog. That lake is like the first jewel in the Ayer’s Cliff crown. The sec­ond jewel would have to be the Ayer’s Cliff Fair­grounds. We need to work with the Stanstead County

Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety to help them pre­serve their Main Build­ing,” said the mayor who vis­ited the site with Orofrd MNA Pierre Reid re­cently.

The Devel­op­ment Plan has three main as­pects: Im­prove the qual­ity of life and re­vi­tal­ize the vil­lage; Pro­mote the iden­tity of

Ayer’s Cliff; and Cre­ate a des­ti­na­tion for all. The first as­pect would fo­cus on Com­mu­nity Ser­vice Devel­op­ment, the cre­ation of in­no­va­tive com­pa­nies and new health ser­vices, while the town’s iden­tity would be pro­moted through in­creased co­op­er­a­tion with the Parc Re­gional Mas­saw­ippi, pub­lic ac­cess to the lake and the preser­va­tion of the County Fair Grounds. To cre­ate a des­ti­na­tion for all, the study sug­gested an ex­pan­sion of out­door sports ac­tiv­i­ties and the pro­mo­tion of tourism.

A spe­cific project that is se­ri­ously be­ing looked at for the near fu­ture is ‘free’, wire­less in­ter­net ser­vice for Ayer’s Cliff res­i­dents. The town could be out­fit­ted with wire­less in­ter­net for a frac­tion of the cost of the to­tal of what res­i­dents are now paying for in­ter­net ser­vice. “And vis­i­tors would be able to hook up to the in­ter­net on their lap­tops or Blackberries. That’s con­ve­nient.” An in­di­vid­ual study has also be­gun on the pos­si­bil­ity of build­ing a gazebo and a board­walk along the waterfront in front of the rest stop on the 141.

“What we hope to do with the devel­op­ment plan is to turn Ayer’s Cliff from a ‘house’ into a ‘home’, where ev­ery­one feels ‘at home’,” said Mr. van Zuiden.

Town wants to keep bilin­gual sta­tus

The Ayer’s Cliff coun­cil has signed a res­o­lu­tion to try and keep its bilin­gual sta­tus, along with other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the Mem­phrem­a­gog MRC. The An­glo­phone pop­u­la­tion in Ayer’s Cliff is at 41%. “It’s about show­ing re­spect for peo­ple and it pro­motes tourism. This bilin­gual­ism costs the towns, not the pro­vin­cial government, so they should let the res­i­dents de­cide. Our res­o­lu­tion is on our web­site and the MRC has passed a sim­i­lar res­o­lu­tion,” com­mented the mayor. Be­sides Ayer’s Cliff, the other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties with bilin­gual sta­tus are Bolton East, Hat­ley, North Hat­ley, Og­den, Pot­ton Town­ship, Stanstead and Stanstead Town­ship.

photo courtesy Lac Mé­gan­tic

Ayer’s Cliff mayor, Alec van Zuiden, stands be­side a draw­ing of the shore of Lake Mas­saw­ippi with a gazebo and board­walk; an ad­di­tion to the town that the coun­cil is con­sid­er­ing.

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