Coastal Erosion in Gaspésie: “Adaptation, for us, is now” | Elections Quebec 2022

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Coastal erosion in the Gaspé: “Adaptation, here, is now” | &Elections Quebec 2022

Scientists estimate that in some places, in Gaspésie, the coastline could lose several meters by the end of the century.

Shoreline and shoreline erosion is nothing new for Gaspesians. However, with the effects of climate change, the phenomenon is increasing at high speed. Elected officials from towns and villages nestled along the coast are sounding the alarm and calling for financial aid and appropriate programs from governments. before it's too late.

In Gaspésie, if proximity to the sea has long been synonymous with prosperity, the tide is turning. The coast is being eaten away by the sea and nothing seems to be able to stop the phenomenon.

It is because with climate change, the water warms up and the ice cover tends to disappear during the winter, leaving the coastline bare in front of waves and storms which are also exacerbated by the effects of climate change. climatic. Result: nothing works. Scientists estimate that in some places the coastline could lose several meters by the end of the century.

At the municipal council of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, the management of problems related to coastal erosion has become an extreme sport. According to the mayor, Simon Deschênes, not a meeting goes by without the issue of shoreline erosion being addressed by citizens.

“At each session, a citizen asks us to put rocks in front of his house to protect it. But I can't do that. If I do it for one, I have to do it for everyone and I don't have those means. »

— Simon Deschênes, Mayor of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts

Gaspésiens install rocks in front of their houses for protect against erosion.

The challenges are many and the solutions complex. The mayor deplores the lack of resources and, above all, the imposition by the Quebec government of standards and laws that he considers to be unsuited to the needs of his community and which seriously hamper the economic development of his city.

“We talk about local government, we are left to manage the problems, but we are imposed legislation that is completely unsuitable and above all disconnected from our reality. »

— Simon Deschênes, Mayor of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts

Adapting to climate change is here, it's now and nobody really talks about it, says the mayor, who refers to the current election campaign in Quebec.

All parties, except the Conservatives, want to tackle shoreline erosion in their own way. The Coalition avenir Québec has invested $10 million this year in Maria, in Baie-des-Chaleurs, to protect 1.2 kilometers of coastline. The party wants to continue investing to protect communities in the years to come if it is returned to power. The Liberals want to develop regional strategies against erosion. Québec solidaire is committed to implementing a policy to protect the shoreline, and the Parti Québécois wants to support the resilience of communities in the face of climate change, in particular by investing to upgrade infrastructure.

“I invite chefs to come here and really understand what we're going through. Because I don't think they understand. »

— Simon Deschênes, Mayor of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts

The case of Kevin Pelletier is a good example of the challenge facing the municipality. The 30-year-old entrepreneur runs the family business. The Manoir sur mer motel-restaurant is a hotel establishment built by the sea for a long time. The entrepreneur is very proud to say that his establishment is sold out months in advance for the summer period.

The motel restaurant Manoir sur Mer is a hotel establishment built by the sea for a long time.

Kevin Pelletier has therefore allowed himself to have dreams of grandeur. Like that of building a second floor and thereby creating new jobs in its region. This first request was refused by the City. He then submitted other proposals, such as adding an annex building to the left or right of his motel. But he got rejection after rejection. He quickly understood that he dreamed more in colors.

Kevin Pelletier does not hold it against the City, because he knows that it is forced to apply the government's normative framework for controlling land use in areas of constraints relating to coastal erosion.

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The newly improved provincial regulations prohibit the change of vocation or zoning of any establishment or house built in what is now considered a flood zone.

The problem is that in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, a large proportion of the city is built along the St. Lawrence River. The municipality of 6,500 residents is unable to afford the cost of maintaining and protecting its 17 kilometers of municipal road on its own.

< p>“I have infrastructure, sewers, aqueducts along the road. If we don't have this long-term vision to fight against climate change, against coastal erosion, who will take care of my infrastructures when they go down in a gondola? They're going to let me try to fix this at the taxpayers' expense. It is unthinkable to achieve this alone. »

— Simon Deschênes, Mayor of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts

Erosion is a long-standing problem in Gaspésie.

Mayor Deschênes wants to do everything to prevent his city from emptying out. Especially since, according to the index of economic vitality of the territories, the RCM of Haute-Gaspésie, of which his city is a part, ranks dead last out of 104.

With the help of the mayor, Kevin Pelletier tries to study other options, but the young entrepreneur, who wanted so much to set up and invest in his native Gaspésie, does not hide it: he is seriously starting to become disillusioned.

“I sure wish I could dream. I wish I could think big! »

— Kevin Pelletier owner of the motel-restaurant Manoir sur mer

Kevin Pelletier is also left to his own devices to protect the integrity of his building.

He and his father built a concrete wall along the beach to come and sit there every winter with huge concrete blocks to protect the motel against heavy storms. A work that cost them more than $100,000. This solution allows the contractor to rest easy on stormy winter evenings.

Concrete blocks protect Kevin Pelletier's motel-restaurant from the effects of erosion and storms.

Just a little further up the coast, Serge Chrétien also had to call on the mayor for help. The man, on the verge of retirement, wanted to sell his seven-unit building.

However, he realized that his building did not comply with current zoning. For it to be, it would have had to condemn five of its seven dwellings. And with the new provincial regulations, it is impossible for him to request a zoning change to keep all his dwellings.

In addition to his pension fund, the houses of five families went up in smoke if the Municipality did not find a solution to regularize his file.

An absurd situation, according to the mayor, d especially since there is a serious housing shortage in his city. After scrambling, the Municipality finally found a way to regularize Serge Chrétien's file.

The citizen is relieved, but also disappointed to see that the Quebec government has no idea of ​​the impact of its regulations on communities in Gaspésie.

“Gaspesian towns will eventually die if things continue like this! »

— Serge Chrétien, citizen of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts

In Gaspésie, the coast is being eaten away by the sea, which nothing seems to be able to stop.

He is convinced that the governments, provincial and federal, have simply given up. The problem is widespread, it will cost too much money, there are not enough of us, says Mr. Chrétien.

The Quebec Ministry of Transport is responsible to protect its roads. It is preparing an impact study for 2024 which will then make it possible to draw up an action plan to tackle the erosion of the banks.

The Ministère des Transports du Québec is responsible for protecting its roads, such as the 132, which follows the Saint- Laurent in Gaspésie.

Simon Deschênes calls himself a man of solutions. He demands to be at the discussion table to develop the plans to ensure that they are adapted to the realities of coastal communities. For the mayor, expropriating people instead of finding sustainable ways to adapt will have the effect of killing these communities. Indeed, the sea is part of its DNA and that of its citizens. Asking Gaspesians to expropriate themselves also means attacking their cultural identity. Here, salt water runs through people's veins.

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