On Dec. 15, the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent held a press conference to announce that an agreement in principle concerning the use of the Port-Lewis wharf has been reached by the MRC and Marina Port-Lewis. Louise Lebrun, prefect for the MRC and mayor of Sainte-Barbe; Douglas Brooks, substitute prefect and mayor of Franklin; Yvon Lachance, president of Marina Port-Lewis; and Laurent Lampron, director general and secretary-treasurer of the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent all spoke on the agreement the two parties have reached.
Discussions pertaining to the sale of the wharf have been taking place since October of 2019, and although a unanimous decision was made by the Council of Mayors of the MRC on four separate occasions, as well as double majority when required on three other occasions, there continued to be concerns among the residents of area. Lebrun stated, however, that the concerns of the public had been taken into consideration when writing up the agreement between the MRC and Marina Port-Lewis.
“This agreement maintains the ownership of the property by the MRC, supports the economic development of the region, and protects the financial capacity of residents and taxpayers of all the municipalities of Haut-Saint-Laurent,” Lebrun says. “I confirm that the MRC has heard and taken seriously the concerns of citizens and elected officials of Haut-Saint-Laurent in order to reach an agreement that protects their interests.”
The conditions of the agreement in principle between the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent and Marina Port-Lewis will be in effect for 30 years. Seven conditions of the agreement were outlined by Lampron:
The maintenance of free public access to the wharf as well as the boat launch into Lake Saint-François;
All costs of maintaining and improving the infrastructure will be the responsibility of Marina Port-Lewis;
Access will be available at all times to public emergency services, such as the police, the fire protection service, ambulances and first responders;
The MRC will form a monitoring committee in connection with the right of access for the public to the wharf and the boat launch, free of charge, for the duration of the agreement, as well as to ensure that Marina Port-Lewis is compliant with all conditions;
Marina Port-Lewis recognizes the jurisdiction of the municipality, namely Saint-Anicet, to consider the property as a private access open to the public by right of way, if it so wishes.
In the event of non-compliance with the conditions required of Marina Port Lewis, the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent may repossess the wharf;
And finally, the notary fees associated with this agreement will be assumed by Marina Port-Lewis.
During the question period, marina owner Yvon Lachance spoke about his vision for the wharf: “When I took possession of the marina we were looking at the wharf and saw the potential for a great space for citizens. I became interested in its history and saw it was a very important place for the region. We were already working on the marina, so we thought, we might as well revive the wharf for the community.”
The press conference ended with the elected officials encouraging residents of the Haut-Saint-Laurent to visit the wharf and take advantage of the historic community spot. The MRC plans on making the final agreement public once it is signed by both parties, most likely at the beginning of next year.