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Center Georges Vezina: Mayor Dufour accuses Minister LaForest of meddling

Center Georges Vezina: Mayor Dufour accuses Minister LaForest of meddling

Conflicts flare up between the Mayor of Saguenay, Julie Dufour, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Vice President of Chicoutimi, André Laforest.

Julie Dufour accuses the deputy of meddling in city files.

Last week, the Minister summoned Chicoutimi’s elected officials to present them with a new renovation project for the Jorge Vezina Center, which is not in the city’s coffers.

“Obviously he interfered,” said the mayor lamenting. There appears to be a mixture of roles. Personally, I felt very uncomfortable when I was called to a meeting with an architectural firm that might be interested in the contract if the project went through.

The submitted project included a complete repair of the roof allowing the beams in the stands to be removed and new corporate boxes added.

The project cost is estimated at $30 million, maybe a bit more, with the potential for $20 million coming from the PAFIRS Quebec Financial Assistance Program. This would leave Saguenay with a ten million dollar bill.

This renovation will come with an additional $15 million package.

The Mayor of Dufour, Chancellors Michel Potvin and Marc Bouchard, representatives of the Saguenéens and Comètes de Chicoutimi, MNA Richard Martel and Pierre Lavoie attended the presentation.

“Without feeling any pressure, I felt the minister was trying to guide us,” said council member Michel Potvin. I wonder if this is his role. What I understand from the citizens is that they do not want a renovation, but rather a new runway.

Minister LaForest replies that, on the contrary, her role is to encourage the presentation of several projects under her leadership.

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“If we talk about intervention, I will always be there to support Chicoutimi County projects,” she said. Now the municipal council and the mayor will decide.

André Laforest sees nothing wrong with holding the meeting in a professional company.

Saguenay’s plan for a new runway? Mayor Dufour replied, “Not for six or seven years.”

“Repair [du Centre Georges-Vézina]”It would be like painting an old car with a roller,” she added.

Both parties claim that this dispute will not affect relations between the city and the national movement of Chicoutimi, who is also the minister responsible for the Saguenay-lac-Saint-Jean region.

The deadline for submitting projects under PAFIRS is September 21st.