THE PUBLIC HEARING REPORT IS NOW AVAILABLE
Québec City, November 10, 2006 – Earlier today, at the request of Claude Béchard, Québec’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) published the report of its public hearing for the project to create the Albanel-Témiscamie-Otish National Park. The Minister appointed Mr. Qussaï Samak, a member of the BAPE, as his representative for the purpose of presiding over the public hearing regarding the project, pursuant to the Parks Act. Mr. Samak’s mandate began on January 14 last.
The public hearing revealed a favourable consensus concerning the Albanel-Témiscamie-Otish National Park project, on the part of the Cree Nation of Mistissini, the James Bay community as well as non-governmental environmental conservation and protection organizations. The Minister’s representative, Mr. Samak, observed that the consensus is based on the fact that the creation of the park is considered an opportunity for a socio-economic restructuring and recovery throughout the entire region. It also reflects the importance of the project for Québec’s conservation efforts in general, and the Government’s specific conservation commitments in particular.
With regard to the boundaries of the proposed park and the conservation approach chosen by the Government, the public hearings generated a significant number of proposals aimed at bringing the boundaries into line with best conservation practices to ensure that they are better able to provide the level of protection required for the park. Whether it was to protect tracts of water in the park, maintain the biological diversity and quality of the park’s water resources or preserve landscape integrity, most participants agreed on the need to extend the park’s boundaries by incorporating four sectors, namely Mont Stefansson and the Marie-Victorin plateau of the Monts Otish sector, the Rivière Témiscamie drainage basin (or at least its primary basin), the woodland caribou habitat in the vicinity of Lac à l’Eau Froide (Coldwater Lake) and Lac Cosnier, and the Lac Mistassini spillway, including the upstream portions of the Rivières Pépeshquasati, Chéno and Takwa. As far as the woodland caribou is concerned, the park project would create a situation conducive to the introduction of a vulnerable species recovery plan, provided the animal’s habitat is included in the park.
With regard to the possibility of developing wind energy facilities on sites adjacent to the proposed park, it would be appropriate for the authorities concerned to work together in order to identify zones within which this type of development would be excluded. These exclusion zones would be determined on the basis of factors including landscape quality and topography, as well as the potential for ecotourism development. The exact sites of future wind energy development sites could then be established from a map comparing the region’s potentially exploitable wind energy sites with the zones in which such facilities were prohibited in order to maintain landscape quality.
A regional consensus also emerged regarding the need to extend Route 167 along the Chibougamau-Mistissini-Otish axis. Such a road would enhance the ecotourism potential of the new park by improving access and safety, and would also improve the region’s position with regard to socio-economic development beyond that required for the proposed park.
Lastly, the new dynamics offered by the park project appears to create a context that is favourable to the emergence of a sustainable collaborative socio-economic relationship between the Cree Nation of Mistissini and the James Bay community as a whole. The new tourist development prospects would certainly create conditions conducive to real cooperation between the communities. It would therefore be desirable for the park management partnership to adopt structures, procedures and practices that will facilitate the emergence of cooperative initiatives.
AVAILABILITY OF THE REPORT
The report on the public hearing for the project to create the Albanel-Témiscamie-Otish National Park is now available from BAPE documentation centres and on the BAPE website at: www.bape.gouv.qc.ca. Copies can be requested from the BAPE by e-mail (email@example.com) or by telephone (418 643-7447, or toll-free 1 800 463-4732).
Mr. Qussaï Samak, as representative of the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, held the public hearing in Mistissini and Chibougamau on January 14 and 15, 2006. The two sessions generated a total of 26 briefs and ten verbal presentations.
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Source: Danielle Hawey
418 643-7447 or 1 800 463-4732, ext. 533