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Letter to Hydro-Québec: Sale of heritage land along the Red River

Rivière Rouge

Montreal, April 3, 2019
TRANSMISSION BY EMAIL

Mr. Eric Martel
President and CEO
Hydro-Quebec
75, boulevard René-Lévesque Ouest
Montreal, Qc H2Z 1A4

Subject: Sale of heritage land along the Red River

Mr Chairman and CEO,

It is our opinion that Hydro-Québec has a social responsibility towards the conservation of the last virgin rivers of Quebec. These rivers constitute a water heritage of inestimable value that must be preserved for all the services they provide us in their natural state: sources of drinking water; habitats for countless fauna and flora species, drivers of various economic and recreational activities, vacation spots and places of rejuvenation par excellence.

The information that Hydro-Québec wishes to sell its land bordering the Rouge River1, over a distance of some six kilometers, to the highest bidder, dismays us. This sale would have the consequence of altering a still virgin natural environment and, more directly, of depriving the Montreal region of an exceptional environmental environment. Even more directly, some 130 jobs at two rafting companies are directly affected because they risk being deprived of access to the banks of the Red River, essential to maintaining their activities. But more fundamentally, it is the attraction of the Red River with its rafting experience in a natural environment, which attracts more than 20,000 people annually, which is threatened. This river is one of the only large rivers that is still in its natural state and relatively accessible to the Montreal population. The sale of your land will affect a recreational setting of exceptional renown, a great loss for the population of Quebec and the economy of the MRC d'Argenteuil.

The Québec Aventure Plein Air class website the Red River in 3rd position in its Top 10 rivers in Quebec. The Trip Advisor Canada site ranks the two rafting companies on the Red River in 6th and 8th position among the 19 places offering outdoor rafting and tubing activities in Quebec.

Such characteristics are valuable for Quebec. In France, millions of travelers visit cathedrals. In Quebec, it is our extremely rare falls and rivers still in a natural setting that constitute an increasingly sought-after attraction. These are particularly inspiring powers of water for those who approach them. These falls and these rivers are, in our eyes, veritable cathedrals of water. We must protect them.

We are convinced that you understand the meaning of our message. We therefore urge you to create the conditions, particularly with the government, which could enable the preservation of this exceptional land. Hydro-Québec must protect the rare sites that constitute exceptional heritage. We remain fully available to contribute to the development of a policy focused on the development of your numerous waterfront lands.

Thanking you for your attention to this letter, please accept, Mr. Chairman and CEO, the expression of our cordial greetings.

Alain Saladzius, FIC, Eng.
President, Fondation Rivières

Paul Piché
Singer-songwriter, Godfather of the Red River

cc: Mr. François Legault, Prime Minister
Mr. Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change

Photo: Karlos Gibeault, Wikimedia Commons

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