The MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent and both the Fédération de l’Union des Producteurs Agricoles de la Montérégie and the Haut-Saint-Laurent syndicate will work together to control illegal backfill operations within the region.
Six directors from the local syndicate formally met with ten of the thirteen municipal mayors in the Haut-Saint-Laurent as well as representatives of the MRC on June 12 to discuss the issue of illegal dumping. The meeting focused on a review of the current situation, the roles and responsibilities of different actors involved, actions that have already been taken at the municipal and MRC levels, and possible solutions.
According to Josiane Carrière, the vice-president of the local syndicate, the UPA is very satisfied with this first meeting with the MRC. “Collaboration is essential, because we need to take this issue all the way to the government, where decisions and actions need to be made for the province,” she explains.
“We have stressed the importance of backfill operations for agronomic or construction purposes, but we are demanding the necessary supports for supervision,” Carrière says, while pointing out the UPA’s elected representatives and directors are very aware of how sensitive soils and water resources are to contamination.
“We want to define ourselves as a region that is not welcoming to fill activities involving contaminated soils,” she says, noting the UPA is now working on an action plan that will be shared with the MRC.
Pierre Caza, the director general of the MRC, says the meeting was constructive and that all options enabling the MRC to intervene in keeping with its jurisdiction are being looked at. “Our interests in protecting agricultural land and preserving water resources are compatible,” he says of working with the UPA. He expects interesting solutions will soon be proposed that will emphasize specific roles for the various players.
Both the MRC and the UPA agreed to meet again in August to continue the discussion and move forward with plans.