Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

The PLQ urges the Legault government to maintain the ferry service in Rivière-du-Loup.

Traverse de Rivière-du-Loup : the file bounces back at the National Assembly

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Mayor Mario Bastille pleaded his case to the Minister of Transport, with Claudette Migneault, CEO, at his side of the Chamber of Commerce of the MRC of Rivière-du-Loup, and Denis Lagacé, general manager of the City of Rivière-du-Loup.

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Representatives of the Chamber of commerce of Rivière-du-Loup and the mayor, Mario Bastille, made a surprise appearance at the National Assembly, Wednesday morning, to demand the maintenance of the home port of the ferry between Bas-Saint- Laurent and Charlevoix. The Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) took the plunge by pressing Quebec to decide quickly on the future of the river link.

The CEO of the Chamber of Commerce and the mayor of Rivière-du-Loup are there, in the stands, pointed out the Liberal MP and spokesperson in transport matters Monsef Derraji, during the question period.

They have a question very simple for the Prime Minister: when will he go to Rivière-du-Loup and announce that the Rivière-du-Loup wharf will be operational?

A quote from Monsef Derraji, Liberal MP and opposition spokesperson for Transport

At the Salon bleu on Wednesday, the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) urged Quebec to decide quickly on the future of the river link. Minister Geneviève Guilbault responded that a lot of work had been done in this direction.

The people of Rivière-du-Loup value this essential, century-old service, mentioned the member for Nelligan. They will not accept a ferry move. So today the question is very simple: will there be the necessary money or not?

The Minister of Transport responded to the Liberal MP's intervention by describing the issue as very important. This is the first time anyone has talked to me about it here, noted Geneviève Guilbault, who highlighted the very active work of her Louperivoise colleague Amélie Dionne in the matter.

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Last month, the Société des ferry du Québec (STQ) launched its call for interest to find a private shipowner who could manage activities at the Rivière-du-Loup wharf. This would also be responsible for dredging, necessary to maintain activities.

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“There is hardly a week” without Geneviève Guilbault and Amélie Dionne addressing the issue of the crossing between Bas-Saint-Laurent and Charlevoix, according to the minister. (File photo)

My colleague [Amélie Dionne] as well as the CEO of the Société des Ferriers also held several meetings locally to take into account all points of view. And it is precisely because it is particularly sensitive and delicate that we must make sure to study all possible options, to get to the bottom of things, to make the necessary meetings and consultations, explained Geneviève Guilbault.

The Minister of Transport also recalled the concerns related to dredging, to the depth of the water and the presence of belugas in the Rivière-du-Loup wharf area. These factors were all mentioned by the Société des traversiers du Québec last December, when it announced the postponement of the decision.

We are currently evaluating all possible scenarios, whether the location of the dock or the operation of the ferry. But whatever it is, we are very aware that it is critical for the sector. We will make the right decisions.

A quote from Geneviève Guilbault, Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility

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After the question period, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce and the mayor of Rivière-du-Loup met with Minister Geneviève Guilbault, in the company of Monsef Derraji and the MP for Rivière-du-Loup-Témiscouata, Amélie Dionne.

This exchange took place under the eyes of representatives of the Chamber of Commerce of the MRC of Rivière-du-Loup and the mayor, Mario Bastille , among others. Former Liberal MP Jean D’Amour was also in the stands of the Salon bleu.

Our message cannot be more clear and firm: we ask the Prime Minister to confirm the maintenance of activities at our ferry at the Rivière-du-Loup wharf, said the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the MRC of Rivière-du-Loup, Claudette Migneault.

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Mario Bastille and merchants arrived at the National Assembly to demand a rapid decision from Quebec on the ferry issue.

At the end of the Salon Bleu exchange, a meeting took place between the Louperivoise delegation and the CAQ elected officials. Even if the government still refuses to confirm the future home port of the ferry, the mayor of Rivière-du-Loup affirmed that this passage to Quebec will have been worth it.

We still start with the fact that we have no concrete answer, no concrete commitment at this time. We made it clear that we were tired of waiting. […] We've been waiting for three and a half years.

A quote from Mario Bastille, mayor of Rivière-du-Loup

The MP for Rivière-du-Loup, Amélie Dionne, affirms for her part that she is sensitive to the concerns of the City, the tourist industry and citizens.

Everyone is eager for a decision to be made, I understand that very well.

A quote from Amélie Dionne, MP for Rivière-du -Loup

She adds that her government is in dialogue with Ottawa regarding the possibilities of dredging at the port of Rivière-du-Loup, which is limited in the weather due in particular to the presence of belugas.

She also specifies that the call for interests launched by her government will be examined impartially. There will be an independent committee for the analysis, she explains.

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Moving the home port of the river link to Cacouna would cost half as much expensive than remaining in Rivière-du-Loup, the Ferry Company revealed in December. (File photo)

Last December, the mayor of Rivière-du-Loup castigated the Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ), accusing it of being in favor of moving the ferry to Cacouna. He also accused the STQ of lacking transparency in the matter.

In addition to postponing the decision, last December, STQ CEO Greta Bédard indicated that it would cost twice as much to maintain ferry service in Rivière-du-Loup as opposed to moving to Cacouna , citing technical problems at the Louperivois quay.

A few hours later, Radio-Canada revealed that the maintenance of activities at Rivière-du-Loup – which would require significant work – would be accompanied by a bill of 700 million dollars for the Quebec state. During the press conference, however, the STQ refused to reveal these figures.

With the collaboration of Patrick Bergeron

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