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Another year, another director-general

February 21st,2024 | Opinion

Low has lost another good one. 

Sandra Martineau would never say that she’s leaving the municipality because of how the people of Low treated her, but if you look at how things transpired over her year-and-a-half tenure, it’s easy to read between the lines and see that her time there wasn’t all too rosy. 

The director-general confirmed to the Low Down on Nov. 23 that she is tendering her resignation as of Dec. 1 and will be taking on a new role within the MRC des Collines de l’Outaouais. Martineau is the sixth director-general to depart in as many years, leaving the troubled municipality in yet another scramble to fill the most crucial role within the administration. (It has also been without a Public Works director for over five years). And the up-the-line municipality isn’t losing just any staffer, but arguably the best director-general it had seen in recent years – one who would defend councillors and set the record straight for residents at usually intense and controversial council meetings. Martineau is a highly competent worker, who was making her mark as a fixer in the sometimes unorganized municipality. She essentially became the face of Low – mainly in the pages of this newspaper – as Mayor Carole Robert often refused to speak on the record. Martineau alone saved the municipality $15,000 after uncovering missing court documents ordering a resident to repay tax money. She also helped modernize municipal files and digitize archives with Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec (library and archives). 

But despite this impressive track record and promising future for Low, it’s no secret that some residents made her life difficult during many council meetings. Martineau told the Low Down in May that she had been the subject of personal attacks from angry residents, which made her feel like “I’m not good at my job even if I’m not responsible for what I have to fix.”

This writer has attended several Low council meetings where residents have shouted at council members and Martineau, demanding immediate information for expenses, bylaws and other things that take time to dig up. Residents got frustrated when Martineau spoke French, even though she always re-explained things in English for the mostly-anglophone crowd. 

Even though most of the attacks from residents were directed at council – with some citizens calling for the resignation of Mayor Robert at several consecutive meetings this past spring – sitting through the squabbles and trying to constantly clean up municipal mess after municipal mess could not have added to the allure of being Low’s director-general.  

And while Martineau only says she’s leaving “because I’m getting older and I want to do something new,” some sources the Low Down spoke with within the municipality say that she is partly leaving because of how she had been treated in public meetings. 

In September, the Low Down warned Low residents to be mindful not to push one of the best staffers out of the municipality with insulting behaviour and constant criticism. It seems like locals did not heed that warning – or it was sent too late. 

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Support feisty, independent journalism.

 

At the Low Down, we are passionate about delivering quality local news to Gatineau Hills residents. But passion alone cannot pay the bills.

To help meet the demands of inflation and the costs of producing fact-based local news, we have introduced new pricing options. Our goal is to meet readers where they’re at, and keep our newspaper as affordable as possible.

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