• James Armstrong

Proposed regional park for Rigaud Mountain receives Quebec financial support


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Protecting and preserving Rigaud Mountain has become a regional project through the work of elected officials from the Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS), the Town of Rigaud and the provincial government.

Plans to create a regional park on Rigaud Mountain moved a step closer to realization as the Minister responsible for the Montérégie Region Christian Dubé announced financial aid of $341,228 in support of the project at a press conference on Friday, July 5. The funding was approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Habitation (MAMH) Andrée Laforest and is earmarked for the purchase of tracts of land on Rigaud Mountain that have a high ecological value.

Enhancing regional growth

“It’s rare that I get to give money,” said Dubé with a chuckle as he described the goal of the project intended to preserve forest ecosystems and cover while supporting ecologically sustainable development for the mountain.

“The development of natural spaces will enhance the growth of ecotourism and recreational tourism, which will generate significant economic benefits for the region,” he noted.

“It’s a really wonderful first step,” the Deputy for Soulanges Marilyne Picard told The Journal, saying she was impressed with the support for the preservation of plant and animal species on the mountain. As for the vision for the type and style of the proposed park, she thought it would similar to and become part of the existing hiking trail system on the mountain. “We need to restrain construction and preserve the flora and fauna,” she said.

Regional cooperation

“This is a regional natural jewel,” said Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS) Prefect Patrick Bousez in reference to Rigaud Mountain.

“We have to take care of this mountain. It’s the lungs for our region.” He congratulated the 23 mayors of the MRC-VS.

“This is amazing,” he said pointing out that similar efforts had been attempted as far as 25 years ago without success.

Purchasing the land would be a joint effort of the MRC-VS and the land bank the Town of Rigaud created following a temporary building moratorium on mountain properties in 2016. The moratorium allowed the municipality and the MRC-VS to identify ecologically sensitive areas that needed to be protected and improve controls on building and development. A large percentage of the mountain was privately owned. The funding announced Friday, July 5 will transit through the MRC-VS to the Rigaud land bank as required.

“Some land has already been bought by Rigaud. Some has been purchased by Nature Action Québec,” said Bousez adding that Rigaud and the MRC-VS were also looking for private investment for the project.

Seeds for the future

“This is the seed money for the rest of the project. The major project is the conservation of Rigaud Mountain,” said Rigaud Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. who was happy with the news. “We are headed towards that goal as fast as the systems can manage it.” The mayor recounted how he had always thought of Rigaud Mountain in terms of development until he read the town’s strategic plan for 2010 to 2020. He realized council had to listen to what the residents had stated in the plan regarding conserving the mountain.

“That’s why I started working for the conservation of the mountain. We are going to make it happen,” said the mayor. There are 24 properties of varying sizes involved in the project. The current funding is aimed at procuring some of the more properties with the most vulnerable ecosystems.

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