Chal­leng­ing times

Stanstead Journal - - CLASSIFIEDS -

to fa­cil­i­tate the build­ing of a gi­ant de­vel­op­ment in parc na­tional Mon­tOr­ford. In June of 2005 BAPE made pub­lic its re­port: The pro­posed ex­change and con­struc­tion of 1400 hous­ing units would harm the eco­log­i­cal in­tegrity of the park.

2006 gave birth to Coali­tion SOS Parc-Or­ford, made up by MCI plus other like-minded or­ga­ni­za­tions. Gisèle be­came a mov­ing force in the coali­tion. It all paid off. Af­ter a 4-year bat­tle the coali­tion was suc­cess­ful in rein­te­grat­ing 459 hectares of park, which ear­lier, had been con­fis­cated from the lim­its of Mont-Or­ford by the govern­ment of Québec. Some of this suc­cess can be at­trib­uted to Coali­tion SOS Parc-Or­ford de­posit­ing at the Assem­blée na­tionale in Québec a pe­ti­tion signed by 86,000 names and a turnout march of 12,000 people in the streets of Mon­tréal, which was one of the largest en­vi­ron­men­tal demon­stra­tions ever held in Québec.

Also in 2006, Gisèle pre­pared and de­liv­ered a brief to: “The Com­mis­sion of Trans­port and the En­vi­ron­ment of the Na­tional As­sem­bly of Québec”

From 2006 to 2010 Gisèle never left the bed­side of the Parc-Or­ford pa­tient. Al­though her at­ten­tion to this Or­ford file could have been de­scribed as a full time job, she took it on like a bump in the road.

There is no rest for the wicked. In 2006 a num­ber of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties warned their res­i­dents to not use wa­ter from Lake Mem­phré­m­a­gog ow­ing to the pres­ence of cyanobac­te­ria (or blue-green al­gae). There are more than 170,000 people who use this wa­ter source.

Gisèle im­me­di­ately set up a ba­sic sur­veil­lance net­work for cyanobac­te­ria and for­warded the re­sults to the Min­istry of the En­vi­ron­ment (Of­fi­cially known as MDDEP). By 2007 a new sur­veil­lance team had been cre­ated and now had about 25 vol­un­teer res­i­dents from dif­fer­ent sec­tions around the lake col­lect­ing in­for­ma­tion for the Min­istry. Gisèle or­ga­nized in­for­ma­tion meet­ings for cit­i­zens, the dis­tri­bu­tion of a brochure for res­i­dents in the drainage basin, of­fered cour­ses on re­plant­ing trees, pub­lished in­for­ma­tion about soil ero­sion and re­duc­ing sources of phos­pho­rus.

By 2008, phos­pho­rus had be­come the bête noire for cre­at­ing cyanobac­te­ria. It is the pres­ence of phos­pho­rus that is the big­gest cul­prit in this sit­u­a­tion. It is en­cour­ag­ing that phos­pho­rous read­ings be­tween 1996 and 2011 have dropped, re­flect­ing Gisèle’s ef­forts but she claims we still need sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments. Three Cana­dian sec­tors of the lake are still above MCI’s tar­get thresh­old.

The cyanobac­te­ria cri­sis threw light on Gisèle’s lead­er­ship when it came to deal­ing with this scourge. In 2010, the Min­istry of the En­vi­ron­ment asked MCI to sub­mit a brief on the health of Québec lakes to the Par­lia­men­tary Com­mis­sion of the Québec Na­tional As­sem­bly as it per­tains to cyanobac­te­ria. Sev­eral rec­om­men­da­tions put forth by Gisèle were re­tained by the govern­ment.

It was around about this time that Gisèle had a vi­sion whereby MCI should and could of­fer a pro­gramme that would pro­tect the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment across the Lake Mem­phrem­a­gog wa­ter­shed. In the process she took the ap­proach of vol­un­tary con­ser­va­tion and selected help from con­ser­va­tion ex­perts to present the pro­gramme. It was fea­tured on our MCI site and re­pro­duced in a brochure.

In just a cou­ple of years the pro­gramme has borne fruit. One landowner has of­fered ap­prox­i­mately 60 hectares of his property plus two other landown­ers have com­mit­ted to a piece of their land on a to­tal sur­face of ap­prox­i­mately 120 hectares.

MCI also had suc­cess meet­ing with Mem­phré­m­a­gog MRC and 4 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties: Austin, Pot­ton, Ma­gog and Stanstead. So far, MCI and Austin have agreed to share a con­ser­va­tion project to pro­duce an eco­log­i­cal pro­file of the nat­u­ral ar­eas in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity as well as the de­lim­i­ta­tion of the Milling­ton wet­land.

Ad­di­tion­ally, MCI has worked with Ma­gog in es­tab­lish­ing an eco­log­i­cal link for wildlife be­tween Mount Or­ford and Lake Mem­phrem­a­gog. On top of that, MCI has worked hand in hand with Ma­gog to iden­tify and value its nat­u­ral ar­eas.

Ow­ing to Gisèle it ap­pears that MCI is well on its way to es­tab­lish­ing a healthy Lake Mem­phrem­a­gog wa­ter­shed in Québec.

At the start I read a won­der­ful short para­graph writ­ten by Gor­don Kohl. Now I would like to read a won­der­ful short para­graph writ­ten by our Di­rec­trice générale, Jo­hanne Lavoie. It ap­pears in the lat­est MCI bul­letin and is the fi­nal para­graph of her ex­cel­lent trib­ute to Gisèle. She wrote:

“Tenac­ity and en­vi­ron­men­tal pas­sion have marked her ten­ure. Thanks to her, MCI is now an in­dis­putable en­vi­ron­men­tal leader in Québec. Much to our de­light, she is still on MCI’s Board of Di­rec­tors. Thank you Gisèle!”

Gisèle - for my­self, I would like to thank you for cheer­ing me up when I’m driv­ing on the high­way. As an ex­am­ple, I could be on the way to the den­tist and feel­ing grumpy. A car pass­ing me dis­plays on its back win­dow the MCI sticker. All of a sud­den I cheer up when I see that au­to­col­lant, it’s not faded, it’s not torn, it’s not a relic, it’s not just a mem­ory - it’s very much alive and healthy. I cheer up and mut­ter to my­self: “Thank you, Gisèle”.

Merci Gisèle !

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