During the election campaign this fall, Premier François Legault announced his intention to build new dams to meet the anticipated increase in energy demand in Quebec and elsewhere in North America.
Without denying the importance of the energy and climate issues that are the basis of this reflection, we believe that this proposal raises some concern about the future of Quebec’s rivers, in particular that of the Magpie River, in Minganie.
The Magpie River is recognized worldwide as an exceptional waterway for the practice of whitewater activities such as rafting, canoeing and kayaking.
It is also one of the 10 best rivers in the world in this area according to the prestigious magazine National Geographic.
By its wild and majestic character, it is also an important symbol of the beauty and richness of the Quebec territory. At a time when contact with nature and outdoor activities are attracting great interest here and internationally, it seems important to us to protect the Magpie River for current and future generations.
Enthusiasm for the outdoors
In fact, in recent years we have observed a strong enthusiasm among Quebecers for the outdoors. Although sanitary measures have favored a reconnection with nature, it seems that we are witnessing more than a passing trend. According to recent surveys, 52% of those surveyed intended to practice an outdoor recreational activity while traveling in Quebec in the summer of 2022.1 (we were talking about 39% before the COVID-19 pandemic) and 46% were looking for a sporty outdoor experience2.
Moreover, on international tourist markets, our vast territory and the possibilities it offers to outdoor enthusiasts are distinctive elements of Québec, which ranks among the most popular destinations for nature and adventure tourism.
As a world-class river, the Magpie River attracts international clientele.
Its recreational tourism development represents immense potential for generating significant economic spinoffs in Quebec and on the North Shore, in addition to diversifying the region’s economy.
In this context, we believe it is legitimate to want to protect some of our natural gems from hydroelectric development. We also believe that the government of Quebec and Hydro-Quebec must listen to the message of the Alliance Muteshekau-shipu, made up of municipalities, aboriginal communities and citizen and environmental groups who have been calling for the protection of the Magpie River for more than 10 years. .
This is why we are proposing that the Government of Quebec recognize the exceptional value of certain rivers, including the Magpie, by giving them “protected area” status that would guarantee their preservation for current and future generations.
In view of the COP15 on biodiversity, which will take place in Montreal next December, this would be a great way to promote Quebec’s commitment to creating protected areas with a view to sustainable development.
A naturally flowing river will continue to provide benefits – economic, social, cultural or even spiritual – to present and future generations.
Protect the Magpie River/Muteshekau shipu without further ado.