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The Bas-Saint-Laurent—Saint-Siméon crossing under study for three years

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A study on the future of the Rivière-du-Loup–Saint-Siméon crossing was first announced in December 2020.< /p>

  • Patrick Bergeron (View profile)Patrick Bergeron< /li>

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A few hours before an update from the Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ), several stakeholders from the MRC of Rivière-du-Loup are impatiently waiting to know if the future home port of the ferry service between Bas-Saint-Laurent and Saint-Siméon will finally be revealed.

STQ officials must take stock Thursday, late in the morning, in Rivière-du-Loup, on the x27;opportunity study which was first mentioned on December 2, 2020.

At that time, the President and CEO of the STQ at the time, Stéphane Lafaut, emphasized that the deep water port of Cacouna was an interesting avenue to improve the current ferry service. The initial objective was to make the conclusions of the study known in spring 2022. Upon this announcement, the mayor of Rivière-du-Loup at the time, Sylvie Vignet, declared that her municipality had a lot to lose in this matter. We have a case to defend unlike the other municipality, she said.

August 9, 2021, nine months after this announcement of the STQ, the elected officials of Cacouna had adopted a resolution to confirm that they were in favor of moving the ferry service to their territory. Then mayor of Cacouna, Ghislaine Daris said she only saw positive points in the arrival of the ferry in Cacouna.

A month later, on September 7, Rivière-du-Loup launched a citizen mobilization campaign and a petition so that the ferry's home port remains at the Rivière-du-Loup wharf. Sylvie Vignet then shot a few arrows at the management of the Société des traversiers du Québec: We speak, but we cannot be heard! The petition, hosted on the National Assembly website, collected 1,529 signatures before being submitted two months later. A survey conducted among Rivière-du-Loup residents in 2022 confirmed that 86% of Louperi residents wanted the service to remain in Rivière-du-Loup.

At the heart of the discussions surrounding whether or not to maintain service to Rivière-du-Loup is the question of annual dredging at the Rivière-du-Loup wharf. To ensure the proper functioning of the ferry in this area, 55,000 cubic meters of sediment are removed each year from an area of ​​30,000 square meters. These figures were confirmed during the most recent consultation of the Environmental Public Hearings Bureau (BAPE) in June 2022.

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A barge carrying out dredging at the port of Rivière-du-Loup (Archive photo)

This passage before the BAPE was intended to renew a permit from Quebec to carry out this work for the next 10 years. During the hearings, a spokesperson for the STQ, which is responsible for dredging, declared that the operation was estimated at nearly $2 million per year.

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The state company also confirmed that 60% of its dredging budget was allocated to work carried out in Rivière-du-Loup. At the end of October, the continuation of dredging work at the Rivière-du-Loup wharf was recommended by the BAPE and authorized a few months later by the Quebec government.

Last June, through a press release, Quebec announced that it would extend the opportunity study. Deputy Prime Minister Geneviève Guilbault requested new analyzes to complete the opportunity study. In agreement with this decision, the member for Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata, Amélie Dionne, mentioned that it was necessary to ensure that no doors were left open and that all possibilities [were] ] be considered. In the June 21 press release, Quebec confirmed that the location of the crossing site on the south side would be known later in 2023.

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As of 2020, the STQ mentioned that the deep water port of Cacouna remained an interesting avenue to enable the service to be offered for a longer period of time of the year. (File photo)

But last November 16, during the visit of the Deputy Prime Minister, the member for Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata spoke of an update in this file and no longer of an announcement for the port ferry dock on the south shore.

At the same time, she confirmed that Quebec wished to launch a call for interest to find a private shipowner who could resume the ferry service between the two shores and take care of dredging near the docks. Discussions are still continuing in this matter between Quebec and the STQ. The notice of interest could be launched in January.

In recent weeks, the Chamber of Commerce of the MRC of Rivière-du-Loup has reiterated its support for maintaining service in Rivière-du -Wolf. Tourisme Rivière-du-Loup agrees, unsurprisingly, in the same direction. In addition to the municipality of Cacouna, the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk Nation wants the link between Bas-Saint-Laurent and Saint-Siméon to be at the seaport of Gros-Cacouna.

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