Bulletin de l'ALSFX, automne 2009

Access to water (draft)

Pierre Craig is host for La facture, a popular consumer’s interests weekly half hour on Radio Canada that is what The fifth estate is to CBC. On September 29, it was devoted to the issue of public access to our lakes. Craig was interviewing a sport fisherman who was refused access to lake Saint-Joseph of St.Adolphe-d’Howard and the same at the only boat descent at Lake Tremblant. He wonders with him about this appropriation of the waters property owners have given themselves. Is this well “their” lake? Doesn't the government of Quebec have, in the past, ruled that their access was to be public?

Like that fisherman, when, earlier in my life, I fled the July sauna in town I envied those which enjoyed such a beach while seeking me a place for bathing in the Laurentians. Who had lived at the lake since always could surely feel there well on his premise. Now at last, it was also “my” lake! To be exclusive owner of a piece of this richness, at one hour hardly of a metropolis of several million inhabitants, seemed to me be a true privilege. However, in front of the perception of the brittleness of this environment or the unconsciousness of a too great number, I found finally a weighty argument in my favour: I had to pay back by being part of the guardian of one of our most precious resource squad!

I however, had just been myself suddenly addressed at the beginning of the summer, by learning that my single nephew could not come with his small family to greet me with at the cottage on board of his all new big motor boat. We had precisely blocked access to our lake to such visitors for it had suffered degradations left by many in the past. My dreams of family gathering and nautical pleasures for summer 2009 were drowned; my rowboat would not have to be jealous and my conscience was coming back to surface.

Contrary to my apprehension, the opinions of the ones and others were put face to face in the broadcast. The ones recalled that the private lakes era was supposed to be over and pled for the application of a policy of opening to the general public. The others, mayors of the concerned villages or representatives of lakes associations, highlighted the misdeeds of an increased and uncontrollable circulation of big boats on waters sometimes already too requested in this respect. They were in favour of blocking those or at least, imposing strict rules to visitors as already seen elsewhere.

Interviewed also, Professor Richard Carignan, that we know well, stressed that it was necessary to worry about the power of the engines more than number of boats. As a heavy truck which damages the road as much as a thousand of cars, the passage of big boats on a small lake had a disproportionate impact on its environment. He preached even the adoption of a bylaw prohibiting there presence thereupon; there however, it would be necessary to call in Ottawa. It was not, of course, the opinion of the president of an association of motor boats owners. For its part, the minister concerned in Quebec, Line Beauchamp, would have refused to be interviewed.

By Carl Chapdelaine

Translated by Edna Schell?