The Gleaner

A new voice emerges in defense of the environment

Organizations and citizens in the Haut-Saint-Laurent have come together to form a new round table focused specifically on protecting and prioritizing the environment.

“There was a need,” says Rémi Pelletier, the director general of the Corporation de développement Communautaire (CDC) du Haut-Saint-Laurent, which is one of the organizations spearheading the creation of the Table de concertation pour l’environnement dans le Haut-Saint-Laurent (TCEHSL). A first meeting took place last June in Huntingdon, and regular meetings have followed.

The organizations around the table include the CDC du Haut-Saint-Laurent, the conservation group Ambioterra, the Mouvement d’action régionale en environnement (MARE), the 1st Ormstown Scouts, the Ormstown Butterflyway Project, the Haut-Saint-Laurent syndicate of the Union des producteurs agricoles, the Société de conservation et d’aménagement des bassins versants de la zone Châteauguay (SCABRIC), the Association pour la défense des droits sociaux (AADS) de Huntingdon, the Comité Zip Haut-Saint-Laurent, the ecological group Crivert, the Genie in a Bottle project, the Comité de rehabilitation de la Rivière Châteauguay, as well as citizens Don Rosenbaum and Lorelei Muller. The Amis de la Réserve nationale de faune du Lac-Saint-François and the Nature Conservancy of Canada are also associated with the initiative.

Pelletier says that while the TCEHSL already brings together a significant number of local groups and associations, there is always room around the table for organizations or citizens interested in joining the growing movement.

The impetus to organize a formal round table was sparked during last year’s Earth Day Forum in Ormstown. Organizer Lorelei Muller says she had often wondered whether such a table existed in the region. When she began to ask questions, it became obvious others had been thinking along the same lines. Pelletier collected names and contact info during the Forum last April and later called a first meeting. Alain Gaulin, who represents the MARE at the table, has volunteered to chair the new group.

The members of the TCEHSL hope that a unified voice in defense of the environment will resonate more strongly with political players so they begin to integrate environmental protection more broadly into their priorities. The group’s objectives will focus on serving as a watchdog for laws that are not being applied or that need to be developed, while collaborating with different levels of government to amend or pass regulations and bills aimed at improving environmental protection. The round table also aims to set priorities in terms of responding to threats to water quality, habitat loss, deforestation, etc.


<br >Representatives from different area organizations with an interest in environmental protection met last June for the inaugural meeting of the new round table on the environment in the Haut Saint Laurent PHOTO Courtesy of the CDC du Haut Saint Laurent


Muller suggests that while different organizations had been collaborating on certain initiatives, the round table has helped to tear down some of these silos and has strengthened partnerships between members. She now chairs the events sub-committee, which is responsible for organizing the area’s Earth Day activities including a one-day forum set to take place this year on April 20 at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School.

She says momentum has continued to build from last year’s successful event which brought together over 20 regional environmental groups and social organizations. She confirms that most organizations that have been approached about participating in this year’s event have shown interest and registrations are starting to come in.

Along with kiosks promoting the activities of the different organizations, the forum will once again feature a series of guest speakers including Hemmingford-based architect and passive house specialist Evelyne Bouchard, who will address the role of buildings in climate change. Stephanie Leduc of Nature Conservancy Canada, who is a member of the TCEHSL, will also be presenting on local conservation efforts with a focus on agricultural land. The presentations will conclude with a screening of the documentary film Humus, which focuses on regenerative farming practices in use at the Ferme les Bontés de la Vallée market garden in Havelock.

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