Resort projects slowed down by the Agricultural Land Protection Commission

Although supported by the municipalities and RCMs concerned, the plans to expand Camping Rémigny and build vacation cabins on Nepawa Island have in turn been rejected in decisions rendered by the CPTAQ in recent months.

Campsite Remigny

In Témiscamingue, the owners of Camping Rémigny, Annie Leclerc and Yanick Vachon, had to put their expansion project on hold due to a decision by the Commission.

Having little space to expand their campground inside their current property, they want to buy from the municipality of Rémigny three lots adjacent to their land.

In green is the current property of Camping Rémigny. The batches concerned by the request to the CPTAQ are represented in yellow.

Photo: Quebec Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources

As these lots are in an agricultural zone, a request must be made to the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec to allow non-agricultural activities.

In the decision of the CPTAQ, we can read that the municipality of Rémigny, the MRC of Témiscamingue and even the Union of agricultural producers of Abitibi-Témiscamingue showed themselves in favor of the project.

In its arguments aimed at supporting the request, the municipality of Rémigny stipulates that there is not really “white zoned” land available nearby for such expansion.

For its part, the MRC de Témiscamingue recalls that with an index of -3.85, Rémigny is a devitalized municipality in which the economy must be diversified and tourist facilities improved.

Two of the lots targeted for expansion are located on either side of Chemin du Camping and are covered in trees.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-Michel Cotnoir

Finally, the Abitibi-Témiscamingue UPA chooses not to oppose the project, given that the sector covered by the application is not very dynamic and the development of agriculture in the targeted parcel seems unlikely. The lots in question are essentially covered with forest.

Despite these various supports from local authorities, the CPTAQ refused the request, mentioning in particular that the plots concerned did not represent the site with the least impact and that it cannot bring himself to destroy the possibilities of using the plots in question for agricultural purposes.

Among the owners of the campsite, the disappointment is palpable.

It’s still a big disappointment because we had great projects, we wanted to make it more touristy, we also wanted to expand closer to the center of our campsite, so it’s a shamesays Annie Leclerc, who bought Camping Rémigny with her husband in the spring of 2021.

Annie Leclerc is co-owner of Camping Rémigny.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-Michel Cotnoir

At that time, the steps with the CPTAQ had already been initiated by the former owner.

In its decision, the Commission argues that there are still spaces on the current property of the campsite in order to proceed with the expansion.

Ms. Leclerc maintains, however, that the majority of the remaining area is not conducive to the development of campgrounds.

It’s very rocky. There is also a part that is swompso it’s impossible to make an enlargement at this place and on the edge of the lake, it’s very steep, so it’s almost impossibleshe mentions.

The terrain is uneven in several places on the current property of Camping Rémigny.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-Michel Cotnoir

Annie Leclerc indicates that the enthusiasm is strong on the part of campers and is sorry not to be able to meet the demand.

We have waiting lists of people who would like to come to Camping Rémigny, but we cannot accommodate them. It would really be necessary to make grounds, but by making them far, it is perhaps four times more expensive. It would have been a great advantage for us to have those lands, but also for Témiscamingue. We have lots of great projects!says Ms. Leclerc.

Newawa Island

A few kilometers southwest of La Sarre, the owner of the Île Nepawa orchard, Pierre Drapeau, obtained the support of the municipality of Clerval and the MRC d’Abitibi-Ouest for his project to build four resort residences on land belonging to it.

To do this, the municipality of Clerval made a request to the CPTAQ, on behalf of Pierre Drapeau, to exclude an area of ​​2.89 hectares from its agricultural zone.

There is white, non-agricultural land in the area, but these belong to individuals and are not for sale.

The covered bridge leading to Nepawa Island, in Clerval.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-Michel Cotnoir

Consequently, the municipality of Clerval is positioning itself so that the land use and development plan of the MRC be modified to designate a Consolidation resort affection in the targeted area.

The MRC d’Abitibi-Ouest supports the project and undertakes to modify its development plan based on the decision taken by the CPTAQ.

Emphasizing in particular the high agricultural potential of the area targeted and the availability of lots in the white zone east of the Nepawa Island bridge, the Union of Agricultural Producers of Abitibi-Témiscamingue opposes the project.

The CPTAQ is final: the request is refused.

The owner of the Nepawa Island orchard, Pierre Drapeau. (archives)

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-Michel Cotnoir

For Pierre Drapeau, who wanted to build small wooden houses, a bit like at Aiguebelle Parkthe disappointment is deep.

The goal was to rent these small dwellings, because I have a lot of tourists who always say to themselves: “if we could have a place to sleep, we could come and work in the orchard.” It could have been very nice that way.he says, referring to the labor shortage affecting the sector.

The problem we have is that it’s a very long process, submitting an application to the Commission de protection du territoire agricole and the answer is often no, perhaps in 99% of cases. »

A quote from Stone Flag

Apple trees in the orchard on Nepawa Island. (archives)

Photo: Radio-Canada / Mathieu Ouellette

Mr. Drapeau feels that the Commission’s almost systematic refusals are detrimental to the establishment of a new generation of farmers in devitalized rural areas.

My kids could have taken care of that later. We have three grown-up daughters and there are some who would like to settle directly in the orchard. They don’t even have the right to build themselves here to help us. […] The convenience store is closed, the gas station is closed, how do you want to attract people to the region? I don’t know what to think anymore and I don’t know what to say anymorehe laments.

We must review the application of the law

For Claire Bolduc, prefect of the MRC de Témiscamingue, it is clear that the Act respecting the protection of agricultural land and agricultural activities, adopted in 1978, is no longer adapted to the reality of 2022, particularly in remote regions.

Applying the law with the same intensity in a region like Montérégie, and in Témiscamingue or Abitibi-Ouest, is illogical. The urban pressure is not the same, the pressure for agriculture is not the same, the population density is not the same and the community development model is not the sameunderlines the one who is an agronomist by profession.

The prefect of the MRC de Témiscamingue, Claire Bolduc.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-Michel Cotnoir

Ms. Bolduc is sorry that the vision, work and expertise of municipal authorities with respect to land development are not taken into account in the decisions of the CPTAQ. She does not understand how a project that obtains the support of a municipality, the MRC and even the UPA can be thwarted in this way by people from outside the region.

The CPTAQ commissioners who render the judgment do not have both feet on the ground on a daily basis. If you look at the address of the commissioners, look at where they are from, the majority: Quebec, Montreal and between the twoshe says.

When they make a decision on the territory of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, do they have mud on their boots? Did they come to the field? Have they visited and lived in the municipalities to be able to properly measure the scope of the decision that is expected of them? No. The answer is no. »

A quote from Claire Bolduc

With the recent unveiling of the National Policy on Architecture and Land Use Planning by the Government of Quebec, Ms. Bolduc says she is optimistic to see things improving.

Yes, I think we will be better listened to, that we will have better influence on what can happen in our territory. The tree will be judged by its fruits. We are told in the discourse of all the political parties that the wall to wall no longer has a place in Quebec society. We must now move from words to deedsshe concludes.

The Union of Agricultural Producers of Abitibi-Témiscamingue and the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec refused our interview requests for this report.

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