The Gleaner

MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent establishes a freeze on dumping

The MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent is moving to place a temporary freeze on dumping practices within its territory.

A notice of motion was filed during the regular meeting of the regional council of mayors on June 21, to introduce a draft interim control bylaw that ensures the compatibility of the MRC’s land-use planning with the regional plan for wetlands and water bodies. The bylaw places a temporary freeze on certain land uses, specifically on or near wetlands, as well as on agricultural land.

The Regional Wetlands and Waterbodies Plan was adopted by the MRC in 2022. The plan identifies the wetlands and bodies of water in the MRC while describing issues that may affect these sensitive areas. It identifies areas of conservation interest, areas that could potentially be restored to improve their condition and ecological function, and environments that should be targeted by measures to ensure their sustainable use.

In presenting the interim control bylaw, the MRC also identifies the significance of agricultural activities to the region and the importance of preserving a sustainable and perennial land base that is conducive to agriculture. The regulation prohibits backfill activities in a presumed wetland or within a ten-metre protective perimeter and introduces strict new parameters for the practice of backfilling in agricultural zones.

According to Quebec law, all backfill operations in agricultural zones require authorization from the Commission de protection du territoire Agricole du Québec (CPTAQ); however, areas under two hectares, as well as projects aimed at correcting a depression or raising a lot, are exempt from this requirement. The MRC’s interim control bylaw closes this loophole by specifically laying out parameters for backfill operations covering a maximum of two hectares.

Work will be allowed provided it is carried out on behalf of an agricultural producer to level a depression in the ground to improve growing conditions or to allow for better drainage. However, all backfill operations within the region must now be recommended and supervised by an agronomist.

“It is a freeze on backfill activities in agricultural zones until a bylaw is adopted,” says Pierre Caza, the director general of the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent, of the strict land protection framework introduced in the temporary regulation.

Operations authorized by the CPTAQ will continue to be allowed under the temporary regulation when occurring outside of a wetland. 

Along with the new land-use parameters, the interim control bylaw also establishes fines ranging from between $1,000 to $4,000 for individuals or entities found to have contravened any of the rules. The amounts double for repeat offenders, and if an offence lasts for more than 24 hours, the penalties may be imposed for each day that passes until the situation is rectified.

The interim control bylaw is expected to be approved during the next regional council meeting at the MRC in August.

(This article was produced with the assistance of Alex DiPani)

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