• James Armstrong

Rigaud unveils its strategic plan for long-term sustainable development


THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Mont Rigaud plays a role in promoting recreational tourism in the town's long-term sustainable development plan.

The process of creating a long-term sustainable development plan for the Town of Rigaud entered its penultimate stage Tuesday, June 19. Approximately 50 residents gathered at the Édifice Paul-Brasseur for a presentation by the steering committee that has overseen the project since it began in May, 2017.

“This evening we will see a presentation of the results from public consultations regarding sustainable development,” said Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. in his opening remarks. “This is a plan for the next 15 years,” he said, adding it will be a useful tool for future town councils because the plan was based on public consultation. Gruenwald said that since the beginning of the process, about 1000 individuals in total took advantage of the opportunity to participate in a survey and two public consultations.

Shared vision

Karine Casault and Lorraine Simard of Comité 21 Québec presented an overview of the project followed by a description of the values, vision, the main points of the plan and the next steps. Comité 21 Québec is a provincial organization that promotes and develops long-term sustainable development projects with local towns and municipalities across Quebec. It also provides links amongst organizations at the local, regional, and international level for these projects.

In short, the plan describes Rigaud as an economically dynamic and harmonious town committed to preserving its treasured natural jewels.

Six major points for a new direction

The six major points of the plan include:

  • Fostering a seamless, client-centric local government

  • Promoting the creation of a welcoming, accessible, and diverse environment for residents and visitors

  • Ensuring a sustainable development of the territory

  • Protecting and enhancing the natural environment

  • Ensuring effective and efficient use of resources

  • Encouraging responsible local businesses, industries and services

The report went into further detail regarding each major point by providing examples of actions required, an estimation of cost, and which level of government would be responsible for putting the actions in motion. For example, efficient use of resources covered a plan to reduce the consumption of potable water by promoting the installation of low consumption showers and toilets. Achieving that goal, according to the plan, requires the involvement of the administrative and governing bodies of the town and the citizens.

PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. (at mic) told attendees that protecting the environment and prudent use of resources are major points of Rigaud’s citizen-based long-term sustainable development plan.

Citizen participation

Encouraging Rigaud citizens to participate in the development of their town was a recurring theme of the presentation.

“The challenge is to engage citizens in the process going forward,” said Simard. Following the presentation, those in attendance had the opportunity to pose questions, make comment or suggestions.

Rigaud Mountain

Recreational tourism has a major role in the long-term sustainable development plan. Several people residing on Rigaud Mountain took issue with the current situation in their neighbourhoods. Resident Hélène Laramie expressed concern over the effect of mountain bikes on fragile natural habitat in situations where cyclists do not stay on designated trails and roads. She emphasized that some cyclists have exhibited a complete lack of respect for private property on the mountain.

Simard responded that raising awareness and resolving issues requires communication and time. She pointed out, as an example, that Rigaud has urban and agricultural areas and that both need to become aware of each other’s problems and needs as part of the sustainable development plan.

The bigger picture

“This evening is about looking at the bigger picture. The town council is responsible for these issues,” said the mayor. He said progress had been made in the protection of the forest cover on the mountain with the creation of a land bank through the purchase of land from private owners.

“The town has a fund of approximately $1 million set aside for the Rigaud Mountain project,” said Gruenwald. He declined to name all the monetary sources of the fund because it’s a work in progress.

“I’m hoping we will have some help from the Quebec government,” he said with a smile.

Publication of the final version of the long-term sustainable development plan is slated for the end of September, 2018.

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