Retired business owner wins District 1 vote

August 25, 2022

Housing is looking to eclipse roads as the main issue as Claude Poirier gets to work as councillor for Inverness County’s most northerly district.

Poirier won a special election in March to represent District #1 (Cheticamp-Pleasant Bay-Meat Cove), capturing 737 of the 1,293 votes cast, surpassing fellow candidates Joseph Christopher Poirier, who garnered 452 votes, and Gaetan Francis Boudreau, who had the support of 101 voters.

The special election was prompted by the departure of former councillor Alfred Poirier, who retired to spend more time with family.

Although this was the first time Poirier’s name was on a ballot, he has worked on political campaigns at the federal level for decades.

The former owner of Cheticamp Welding, he sold the business shortly before taking the plunge into municipal politics. He says he had thought about running in the past, but when his longtime friend decided to leave council, he decided to throw his hat in the ring.

“I’ve had it in my mind for years, but I never thought it would materialize,” he says. “But I guess it finally did.”

Poirier says he’s been “very busy” since taking his seat on council, and that roads continue to be a major concern of residents, along with sewer and sidewalks, especially in the Cheticamp area.

“They’re getting a lot of new apartments (in Cheticamp), and they’re all wondering if (the sewage system) can take the load,” he adds.

“A lot of calls you get are provincial,” he says, noting that he tells residents he’ll do what he can, passing their concerns on to their representatives at the provincial and federal levels.

But one area of concern currently being addressed by the municipality is housing and nowhere is the problem more acute than in Poirier’s district. The district conducted a survey a couple of years ago which identified the need for more housing, particularly for seniors.

Poirier said the issue affects more than seniors, noting that a lack of housing is also hampering growth in the area as local employers struggle to find places for their employees to live.

“I’d say 85 to 90 per cent of the workers (at the local fish plant) are all foreigners,” he explains, pointing out that the plant’s owner, as well as owners of other local businesses, had been able to purchase some local homes to house their workers. But he says with the recent spike in realty prices, buying existing homes is no longer an attractive option.

He says local developer Gerard LeFort is building apartments, “and they’re filled before they’re built.”

Poirier says a third group in desperate need of housing in the area is retirees.

“There’s a lot of people from Cheticamp who went to work away, and now they want to come back and retire in Cheticamp,” he notes.

Voting in the March special election was held online and over the phone. There were 2,173 eligible voters, with the 1,293 ballots cast representing a 59.5 per cent turnout rate.