Portage for the Romaine

Portage from the Romaine to the Magpie : Whither Our Rivers?

From June 27-29, Alliance Romaine portaged a canoe
between two large rivers to underscore the threats these and other rivers are facing from the Quebec government’s Plan Nord. In all, more than 30 participants relayed the canoe over a 60 kilometer stretch starting from the mouth of the Romaine. En route we handed out flyers, interacted with the media and made a planned stop in the Innu village of Ekuanitshit.

As hydroelectric projects multiply in the north of the province, we have reason to be concerned about the significant cumulative impacts of
large dams on the health of local ecosystems. On the North Shore,
wild rivers feed the boreal forest, support biodiversity and ensure
the viability of a commercial fishery in the Gulf of Saint-Lawrence.

As the policies of the Plan Nord are implemented, the provincial government
is accelerating the pace of hydro development with a view to supplying
cheap electric power to mining companies and refineries. In reality it’s
the taxpayer, through Hydro Quebec, who will subsidize these
industries, since the Province sells them power at 4.5 cents a
kilowatt-hour (the “L” rate) whereas, in the case of the current project on the Romaine River
river, this electricity will cost the government-owned utility 9.2 cents a
kilowatt-hour to produce.

By choosing to subsidize big business in this way at the expense of the local
economy, we are sacrificing our most beautiful rivers, compromising
recreation and tourist potential and undermining the outdoor lifestyle for
which the North Shore is renowned.

Recently, many citizens and groups have raised their voices to demand a more
balanced approach to development, and in 2009, the commissioners for
the public hearing that had been tasked with evaluating
the Romaine River project recommended designating protected status for the Magpie. Regretably, three years on, the provincial government has taken no steps to implement this proposal.

Instead, on one of its promotional websites, Hydro Quebec
states that an 850 megawatt project on the Magpie River, as well as
another 1200 megawatt project on the Little Mecatina River, are currently
“under study”.

Alliance Romaine is a citizens’ group which has been mobilizing
since 2008 to promote the protection of the Romaine and other
exceptional rivers on the North Shore. As a follow-up to our public action we demand:

An end to energy subsidies to big business (elimination of the « L » rate)
Protected status for the Magpie River
A moratorium on construction of dams 1, 3, and 4 on the Romaine River,
as well as on any proposed projects on the Magpie or
Little Mecatina rivers.

The Alliance Romaine team would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all our portageurs, as well as to all those valuable folks who assisted, encouraged or otherwise inspired us along the way! An especial mention is due to Mathieu, from Longue-Pointe, who introduced us to one of several waterfalls along the spectacular Magpie River as a way of making it up to us  for our three days of sweat and exertion. To all of you we say thanks, and à bientôt!

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