Two municipalities in West Quebec are mulling over whether to pay more than a million dollars over the next five years to spray for mosquitoes.
Residents in Fort Coulonge and the municipality that surrounds it — Mansfield-et-Pontefract — say this year's mosquitoes have been unbearable, and wanted the municipalities to do something about it.
Mansfield-et-Pontefract mayor Kathleen Belec says the municipalities are small enough they would need to share the cost. They are also close enough that for any spraying to be effective, both have to do it.
"It's both or nothing," said Belec. "We are so close in proximity, no bridge is going to stop mosquitoes."
But the cost — $217,793 for one year and $248,906 for each of the four years after — means the municipalities would have to borrow to pay for the spraying.
It would also mean a hefty special tax to each household — $142.29 in the first year and $162.53 for each of the next four years.
"When the mosquitoes are out, they don't think about the cost right away — 'Oh yes, $142' — but at the end of the year, with the evaluation of your house plus that special tax, it gets hard to pay," said Belec.
Residents in both communities were able to register opposition to the plan because the municipalities needed to borrow to pay for it, and there was enough opposition from Mansfield-et-Pontefract to trigger a referendum on the subject.
Municipal leaders are meeting Wednesday night and again next Wednesday to consider whether to go through with a referendum — which would cost another $20-25,000 — or scrap the plan entirely.
Belec said either way, people won't be happy — at least until hotter weather starts to drive the mosquitoes away during the daylight hours.