Des Neiges wind project | The BAPE will land near Mont Sainte-Anne

(Quebec) The Minister of the Environment of Quebec orders the holding of a public hearing by the Bureau d’audiences publique sur l’environnement (BAPE) on the first phase of the largest wind project in the country, which is causing much debate around of Mount Sainte-Anne.

Citizens, including those who are concerned about the visual impact that the Des Neiges wind project will have on the Mont-Sainte-Anne park, will therefore be able to present their arguments to the BAPE.

“I am happy that the BAPE accepts that we can go and express ourselves, at least. We are not against wind turbines, but we are just asking for a buffer zone to protect the park,” reacted former Olympian Pierre Harvey.

Mr. Harvey and other citizens of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges are asking that this project be located at least three kilometers from the park. Right now, the nearest wind turbine will be half a kilometer from its limits. Opponents launched a petition which collected some 1,400 signatures.

This public hearing will be the first to examine a wind project since 2016. It was then the Mont Sainte-Marguerite wind farm project, with a capacity of 147 MW, in Beauce.

1200 MW divided into three phases

The Des Neiges megaproject, developed by Boralex, Hydro-Québec and Énergir, will be the largest in Canada with a capacity of 1,200 MW at the end of its three phases. The first, the southern sector, will be deployed just north of Saint-Ferréol.


Citizens are concerned about the impact that the southern sector of the Des Neiges wind project will have on Mont-Sainte-Anne park.

This phase, which will require 1 billion investments, must include 67 wind turbines among the tallest in Quebec, nearly 200 meters with the blade.

Boralex said on Tuesday that it welcomed the holding of this public hearing, which had been formally requested from the minister by 16 people.

“We have worked very hard over the last few years to find a balance between all the constraints of the site, whether technical, environmental, regulatory and social, in order to propose the best possible project while respecting the environment. and host communities,” said Boralex spokesperson Katheryne Coulombe in an email. “We believe that the project, in its current configuration, achieves this balance. »

Favorable elected officials

The project divides the community of Saint-Ferréol, where many citizens support it, as do elected officials and the mayor.

“Will it impact the landscape to the point that people no longer come to visit our municipality? I do not think so. I don’t think there will be a negative impact on our region,” he recently told The Press Mayor Mélanie Royer-Couture.

She recalled that the nearest wind turbine will be 5 km from the top of the ski resort. The closest cross-country ski trail will be located at a distance of 1.7 km.


Visual simulation at the summit of Mont Sainte-Anne, looking north

On Tuesday, the mayor said she “very favorably” welcomed the holding of a public hearing which would allow “everyone” to express their point of view and improve the analysis of the file.

“The municipal council has positioned itself favorably in this matter, the objective being to participate in the pursuit of the electrification of Quebec with a thought for future generations,” added Royer-Couture.

3 km buffer zone?

Opponents believe that the project can be done while ensuring a 3 km buffer zone with the park. But Boralex responded to citizens that such a zone would force it to remove 17 of the approximately 70 wind turbines in this phase, preventing it from reaching the 400 MW that it must provide to Hydro-Québec.

The BAPE public hearing is scheduled to begin on February 5. It is towards the end of this same month that the BAPE will go to the site to hear from citizens and collect submissions. The Bureau does not currently know where these sessions will take place, but probably in Beaupré or Saint-Ferréol, depending on the availability of premises.

Remember that the Des Neiges wind project must be implemented on the largest private territory in Canada, namely the lands of the Séminaire de Québec, near the capital.

It is here, in the Seigneurie de Beaupré, that Boralex, Énergir and Hydro-Québec want to build the three phases of the Des Neiges wind project. Including the 164 wind turbines already installed in this area for several years, the megaproject will ultimately have 365 wind turbines with a total capacity of 1,564 MW.


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