Rimouski believes that this residential construction project will be the largest in the next ten years. The city plans to develop the new district on land it owns, in Pointe-au-Père. The construction of these new buildings could affect part of a forested area located on these lots that include wetlands. However, citizens who regularly frequent these places, where trails have been created, express their concern about this project.
Several neighbors opposed the project.
A resident of the neighborhood in question, Dominique Bourassa, a family doctor who is a member of the Quebec Association of Environmental Doctors and mother of two children, presented an open letter signed by around thirty citizens, including several health workers and biologists. elected officials and the city of Rimouski urban planning team.
“We are carrying out this process with a constructive approach and with the desire that Rimouski positions itself in accordance with the call of mayors in action that you signed last spring,” Dr. Bourassa recalled, adding: “addressing the mayor Guy Carón. This call called for, among other things, to identify and take advantage of underused land in urbanized areas, promote the construction of affordable social and community housing, adopt the principle of zero expansion to reduce distances and protect natural environments. »
The spokesperson for those opposed to the development of this housing project stated that she was aware of the real estate crisis that is plaguing Rimouski. However, she maintained that urban expansion constituted an ecological and economic catastrophe. Mayor Caron stressed that he did not have the same definition of urban expansion, since the planned site for the housing project is located about 5 or 6 km from the center of Rimouski.
“Instead, we must find how to develop and densify on a human scale with more public transport, while protecting this precious local natural space that constitutes the forest area of Pointe-au-Père, especially since it is very frequented by the population and that It contributes to physical and mental health, suggests Dr. Bourassa. It is also the object of informal but concrete organization and maintenance, which illustrates the users’ attachment to this natural space. » For the Pointe-au-Père resident, the group’s proposal also requires an evaluation of the impacts on health.
“As it owns the forested areas and wetlands of Pointe-au-Père, we are clear that the city of Rimouski has a golden opportunity to protect this natural environment by transforming it into a natural municipal park and, in doing so, a biodiversity reserve, said the resident of the sector. We have a very great responsibility towards the next generations to show our serious efforts to fight against climate change, while its effects are even more intense and faster than expected. »
Guy Caron denied wanting to destroy the Pointe-au-Père forest. “The city of Rimouski has an area of 340 square kilometers, of which 57% is protected agricultural territory and the forest area that cannot be touched is 20%. If we add the recreational areas and the industrial park, there is 12% of the territory that can be developed. » The mayor indicated that the conceptual plan that will be presented will define the real impacts on forests and wetlands.
Other voices were heard
Another resident of Pointe-au-Père, Marie-Reine Laprise, showed the members of the municipal council large photographs of the fauna of the Pointe-au-Père forest. For her part, Andréa Weise, who has lived in the area for about thirty years, stated that in Rimouski there were other places where a construction project of this type could be developed.
Mr. Caron then invited her to identify these places, to which she was unable to respond. With a rental housing vacancy rate of 0.4%, at least 2,500 new homes are needed in Rimouski, according to the elected official. “There will not be 2,500 units downtown. The City Council does not have land in the city center for this project and the urban plan prevents densification. Therefore, we cannot leave aside the Pointe-au-Père project. »
Only one citizen was in favor of the project and asked the mayor to formally commit to implementing it. “There will be a project,” Guy Caron responded. What will it look like? A conceptual plan will be submitted to consultation with the population to then decide on the final concept. »