Loyal to their friendship agreement ratified on August 30, 2012, the elected representatives of the MRC d’Argenteuil, the MRC de Papineau and the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, yesterday held their annual meeting at the exceptional site of the Centre Notre-Dame de la Rouge, located at the junction of the Rouge and the Ottawa rivers. The elected representatives of the three regions benefited from this friendly meeting to strengthen their relations, through a joint commitment towards the protection of the Ottawa River. In this sense, the prefects of the MRCs of Argenteuil and Papineau, Messrs. Scott Pearce and Benoit Lauzon, and the Warden of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, Mr. Robert Kirby, signed the Declaration of the Protection of the Ottawa River and announced a community partnership with the Ottawa Riverkeeper organization.
Together for the Ottawa River
The partnership between Ottawa Riverkeeper and the three neighbouring territories, through their Friendship Agreement, is intended to demonstrate the importance of the river and to create a collective commitment to protect it. In the coming weeks, riverbank cleanup activities will be organized in each region and will involve the participation of various organizations and the public. Among the activities proposed under the partnership are also the Youth Water Leaders Program, which provides training for community engagement ambassadors; a collaboration with the “Mission 100 Tonnes” initiative; and the introduction of new regional supervisors within the Ottawa Riverkeeper Riverwatch Program.
The protection and enhancement of the Ottawa River are priority issues for the MRCs of Argenteuil and Papineau and the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, which, to this end, have already accomplished many initiatives. As examples:
- In partnership with the Abrinord watershed organization, the Développement ornithologique Argenteuil (DOA), and the municipality of Saint-André-d’Argenteuil, a collective action plan for the sustainability of the Carillon Bay has been developed and implemented in 2018-2019. The Carillon Bay site, recognized as an exceptional territory by the governments of Quebec and Canada, identified important issues and the consultation work between the partners led to the identification of solutions to preserve the quality of the water and promote the conservation of biodiversity.
MRC de Papineau
- Work in partnership with the Plaisance National Park and some municipalities of the MRC de Papineau for the annual monitoring of invasive plants. Following the discovery of the water chestnut in 2015, the combined efforts of community partners eliminated this highly aggressive and harmful plant in the park’s wetlands. This plant threatened the ecological integrity of the entire Ottawa River downstream of the park;
- Plaisance National Park, in collaboration with the municipalities of Lochaber and Thurso as well as Transports Québec, controls another plant that threatens the integrity of the Ottawa River wetlands. This successful partnership project now allows for control of more than 80% of the common reed, also called phragmite, in and around the park. The municipalities of Plaisance, Papineauville and Montebello have also taken steps to tackle the problem.
United Counties of Prescott and Russell
- Local municipalities in the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) are responsible for the increased monitoring of water quality in the river, which is a source of drinking water for many of the region’s residents. The UCPR also ensures that the protection of the river and its shoreline is included within the County’s Official Plan.
- In partnership with the South Nation Conservation Authority, the UCPR works to develop local initiatives for the protection and enhancement of the Ottawa River.
The Ottawa River plays a vital role in many spheres of activity, including transportation, tourism and energy production, and is a defining part of the history of Quebec and Ontario. As such, on July 28, 2016, the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, and the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, proceeded with the Heritage Designation for the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, which is integrated with the Canadian Heritage Rivers System. In 2017, the Quebec government also designated the Ottawa River as a historic site, particularly for its vital role in community development.
The alliance uniting the three territories will help to put in place the necessary measures to protect this majestic 1,271-kilometre-long river, the longest in Quebec and Ontario, and the eighth longest in the country, which serves as a border between the two provinces along most of its delineation.
About the Friendship Agreement
Since 2011, the three regions have met every year in order to maintain and strengthen the partnership uniting them, particularly in the field of recreational tourism, culture, heritage and environmental protection. In addition to allowing elected officials from the three regions to meet annually to share and exchange on their experiences, the Friendship Agreement is at the origin of several important joint projects, including the Cycl-O-Route bicycle trails along the Ottawa River, a circuit totaling 200 kilometres that criss-crosses the three neighbouring territories.
Together, the MRC d’Argenteuil, the MRC de Papineau and the United Counties of Prescott and Russell form a territory larger than the province of Prince Edward Island, regroup nearly 150,000 permanent residents, divided into 41 local municipalities, covering an area of approximately 6,500 km2.