The provincial government is setting aside 11 new territories for environmental protection, including 820 square kilometres around the Noire and Coulonge Rivers in Pontiac. The Director Genereal of the Conseil régional de l’environnement et du développement durable de l’Outaouais (CREDDO), Benoit Delage, pointed out that this was a significant development, since this is the first time that such designations have been made in the south of the province.
“In fact, it’s not nothing for the region and it’s not nothing for Quebec. If there is anything that we can facilitate the Legault government on, it is its desire to bring in more protected areas,” he said (translated). “There, there is a significant gesture that has been made today in the south. There are many territories that had been designated in the north, but today it is in the south, and in the Pontiac. This is the biggest announcement for a protected area in Quebec. So, certainly, this is a first step to enhance the natural environments in the Outaouais. This leads us to increase quickly like that, by 2% the percentage of protected area in the region.”
Several political and environmental players also weighed in on the creation of this biodiversity reserve, which will be part of the largest protected area in the Outaouais.
“People are drawn to the Pontiac because of our unique natural environments, particularly the Noire and Coulonge rivers,“wrote MRC Pontiac Warden Jane Toller (translated).”We must protect their waters. To maximize the positive impacts of the protected area, the continuation of the consultation process is essential. For the community to fully benefit from the economic, social and environmental benefits of a protected area, it is crucial that we listen to its needs and expectations with regard to the project. This will allow the creation of a protected area which, on the strength of a consensus within the community, will become a flagship of the local economy.““This announcement represents exceptional potential for the diversification of the Pontiac economy,” wrote Julie Kinnear, CEO of Tourisme Outaouais (translated). "The creation of a protected area would allow attractive recreational tourism development for the Outaouais and fits perfectly into our regional priorities such as the outdoors, boating, unusual accommodation and sustainable tourism.”
For the past three years, CREDDO and the Society for Nature and Parks of Canada - Ottawa Valley Section (SNAP-VO) have been leading the consultation of stakeholders in the region. Consultations will continue until recommendations are issued to the government. CREDDO and SNAP-VO will continue to engage with the community to ensure the implementation of the project.
“The consultations will allow the population of Pontiac, the experts of the territory, to decide on the places they wish to see included within the limits of the protected area,“wrote Geneviève Le Blanc, director of conservation for the Society for Nature and Parks - Ottawa Valley section (SNAP-VO) (translated).”Our teams are delighted that the government is open to improving the project thanks to community contributions.”
The full (French-language) interview with Delage is available here.