THUNDER BAY – The Government of Quebec has produced Plan Nord, which is the province’s plan for development of the northern region of Quebec.
At a meeting in Thunder Bay, at the Slovak Legion a presentation to the Northwestern Ontario Joint Task Force (JTF) on Regional Economic Development Pilot Project, the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce (NOACC) and the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) outlined Plan Nord.
Four officials from NATIONAL Public Relations were on hand to share information about the plan. The plan is to build infrastructure in the north, including rail and a port as well. (Thunder Bay to hear from Plan Nord Economic Development Experts)
Quebec Premier Jean Charest says, “The Plan Nord is the project of a generation of Quebecers”.
Sharing with the audience in Thunder Bay, the speakers outlined how important using social media, the Internet, and communications that reaching outside the region is critical to getting the information out to the “south”.
The greatest projects that a government can do are the ones that capture the enthusiasm of the people. One of the speakers pointed out how that should be something that increases in Ontario.
Lesson One in Ontario was that “We need to capture the public enthusiasm”. Plan Nord has captured a massive development, where the Far North Act starts with a need to put the grand vision a little more up front audience members were told.
The goal of gathering the community economic development into the Far North Plan via the Task Force was mentioned as a key component to success.
The goal of Plan Nord in Quebec is building partnerships with government and the private sector. As well, the Plan Nord is proposing the creation of up to 500 Megawatts of renewable energy, hydro and wind. “The cost of power in the south is five cents, and the plan will drop the price in the north, especially in James Bay and Nunavut”.
Another goal is building greenhouses in the north to allow for fresh food to be grown in the region. As well, the province is already shipping mushrooms to Japan, and plans to expand that development. The James Bay area is apparently capable of growing excellent quality Shiitake mushrooms.
Remoteness from major markets, the cost of and logistical constraints in respect of the transportation of foodstuffs also affect the type of bio-food products that can be profitably grown in the territory. The development of conditioning and processing infrastructure and distinctive niche products with high added value are the strategies being emphasized to contend with transportation constraints.
Farmland now under cultivation in the territory that the Plan Nord covers totals just over 8 500 ha, i.e. roughly 5 000 ha in the Côte-Nord region, 2 300 ha in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region, and 1 200 ha in the Nord-du-Québec region. The cultivation of small fruits and fodder and pastureland account for over 90% of such farmland and most of the products are exported.
Northern Québec has 1.5 million hectares of arable land, one of the biggest reserves in North America. For comparison purposes, total cultivated land in Québec stands at 2 million hectares.
In addition to food production, mining, forestry and power generation, tourism is also a huge part of the plan.
Paul Goulet from North Bay, asked “The first speaker mentioned that Plan Nord will respect existing First Nations treaties. In our case, many of the treaties are in dispute. Have you experienced this issue and how did you deal with it?”
Plan Nord has taken the approach of respect. The speaker said that the level of respect has been such that he was presented with an Eagle Feather, which he has kept and respected.
On January 13th $300,000 in financial assistance for construction of accommodation facilities in Umiujaq was announced. The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, and the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, confirmed the investment of $450,000 for the construction of the new accommodation establishment which replaced the existing hotel in Umiujaq.
“Our government is pleased to have supported construction of a new hotel in Umiujaq. This project constitutes an investment in northern tourism and promotes local economic development. Our government is working to stimulate community economic growth and to create jobs through investment in infrastructure,” stated the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
“The Government of Canada had no hesitation in supporting this project, which will help the Inuit community of Umiujaq to increase its hospitality and accommodation capacity and encourage development of its tourism appeal,” said the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, the Honourable Denis Lebel.
“The hotel of the Umiujaq Cooperative is a major player in the adventure tourism and eco-tourism markets in the region. I am very proud to be associated with this project, which matches, in every way, our Strategy, which was launched in November 2011. The opening of Tursujuq National Park will bring a new clientele to the municipality of Umiujaq, in addition to the existing business clientele,” declared Minister Ménard.
“I am delighted with the participation of local interests and the various levels of government. By working in partnership and pooling our efforts, we will be able to develop an unrivalled international northern destination,” added Minister Corbeil.
The new hotel of the Umiujaq Cooperative has 16 rooms on two floors. It is strategically located close to Tursujuq National Park, which includes Lake Guillaume-Delisle, the second largest natural lake in Quebec after Mistassini. This project has received an investment of $2,695,000.
The financial assistance breaks down as follows: $300,000 comes from the Quebec Tourism Department through their Tourism Development Support Program (component for tourism development north of the 49th Parallel); $250,000 comes from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s Aboriginal Business Development Program; and $200,000 has been granted under the Community Diversification Program of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.
Plan Nord, tabled on May 9, 2011, is one of the biggest economic, social and environmental development projects ever undertaken in Quebec history. It will run for 25 years, with investments of more than $80 billion. Plan Nord comprises energy, mining, forestry, bio-foods, tourism and transportation, wildlife, environmental protection and biodiversity conservation development. It will promote development beneficial both to the communities concerned and to Quebec as a whole, while respecting cultures and identities. To read all the documentation on the Strategy, go to www.tourisme.gouv.qc.ca/strategie49.