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Open letter to the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks – Industrial corn cultivation in Boucherville

OPEN LETTER

Mr. Luc Blanchette, Minister
Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks

In the summer of 2016, you made the decision to renew until December 2017 the contracts authorizing industrial agricultural activity in the Îles-de-Boucherville National Park. In 2008, authorities from the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks decided that these contracts would end in December 2016 and would no longer be renewed. This decision was maintained until yours.

It was under the Parks Act of 1977 that the Parc des Îles-de-Boucherville was created in 1984 with the status of a recreational park rather than a conservation park according to the classification defined in the law. However, the Parks Act was amended in 2001 affecting all parks designated as national parks whose priority objective is to ensure the permanent conservation of representative territories.
natural regions of Quebec.

Current intensive corn cultivation requires the use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides which are harmful to the environment. On two occasions, in 2002 and 2004, Environment Canada's St. Lawrence Center informed park management that the concentration of pesticides exceeded the standards permitted in surface waters by three times. In 2004, the Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides sent a notice to the park director mentioning that agriculture as it is practiced is contrary to the principles of conservation of a national park and incompatible with its vocation. The Sépaq Harmonization Table has addressed the issue of agriculture several times and pointed out that agriculture has deplorable environmental consequences for a park dedicated to conservation.

Several recommendations concerning agricultural practice conditions maintain the use of insecticides, pesticides and herbicides. Only the prohibition of all of these chemicals is likely to respect the vocation of a national park dedicated to the conservation of the ecosystems of its territory. In addition, a recommendation opens the door to producing an underground drainage plan on land leased for agricultural purposes even though this process is currently prohibited. Possible underground drainage of land will only further encourage the flow of pesticides into the St. Lawrence River and amplify an effect on water quality for several decades.

At your request, the National Parks Directorate of your ministry formed, in November 2016, a consultation table with the aim of formulating recommendations for the future of agricultural lands. The report from the Table de concertation was submitted in March 2017.

The only way to allow the continuation of agricultural activity on the lands of the Îles-de-Boucherville National Park in accordance with the conservation vocation of the park is for it to be of an organic type. It is known that corn cultivation can be practiced using integrated pest control with biological agents.

We believe that industrial agriculture as it is currently practiced in the Îles-de-Boucherville National Park projects a bad image of the park and the Quebec park network. We ask you to make the 142 hectares under cultivation in the park compliant with the National Parks Act.

Signatories: 

  • Steve Troletti, president of the Friends of the Îles-de-Boucherville National Park
  • Christian Simard, general director of Nature Québec
  • Alain Saladzius, president of Fondation Rivières
  • Guy Morin, president of Environnement Boucherville

Photo: WAldemar Brandt/Unsplash

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