Communities who renounce renounce

Three communities, three innovative projects, a common vision: a collective grip of development in all its forms.

Rouyn-Noranda in Saint-Joachim-de-Shefford, through Saint-Venant-de-Paquette, communities draw a Québec solidaire and bold. They illustrate how the democratic vitality and mobilization are the key pieces of economic, social, cultural and ecological development in height.

Talking “water and strong” …

Osisko, D’Alembert and Opasatica are some of the 656 lakes that dot the territory of the city of Rouyn-Noranda. Genuine collective wealth, natural heritage, however, suffers from increased residential development along its banks. “It was found in 2006 and 2007 the appearance of blue-green algae blooms in several lakes in the city,” laments Geneviève Trudel, management consultant watershed for the city of Rouyn-Noranda.

“With this program, a solid foundation has been established to support the population and municipal services in the field of environmental protection. “

Strongly questioned by concerned citizens, the City Council is establishing in 2009 a Lakes protection program based on watershed management. What is it about? passionate biologist, Geneviève Trudel explained that “the objective is to protect the lakes of the territory by empowering water users, accompanying residents’ associations in their environmental approach and by encouraging the formation of new associations to develop local expertise in protecting the lakes. ” Dialogue is at the heart of this program: “To develop local water management plans, watershed committees are formed lakes with actors that may impact on water such as city, associations of residents, environmental groups, the mining, forestry, etc. ”

Three committees of watershed, two water management plans and several health surveys later, the balance is positive. This is due in particular to the elected “who played a key role in prioritizing the protection of lakes and adequately funding the project.” Citizens, themselves, hold at arms program, participating actively in the process, whether in local committees Lakes protection or by getting involved in various outreach activities.

As effective as it is, this collective action faced some challenges: self awareness of residents is not always of the volunteers and breathlessness is quickly felt. Geneviève Trudel does not lose his optimism: “With this program, a solid foundation has been established to support the population and municipal services in the field of environmental protection. “In short, citizens, residents associations, watershed committees, municipal bodies and environmental organizations have every intention to speak still” water and strong “to preserve their territory.

The culture of solidarity

“The idea is to have ideas” launches on the fly Jacques Sauvé, retired president of the Coalition of Rural pact Saint-Joachim-de-Shefford. This is one of those ideas that the “country of pear” was born.

It all started with the launch of the National Rural Policy in 2002 and the signing of the Rural Pact by the MRC de La Haute-Yamaska. Citizens are then invited to attend an information meeting. If the exchange point to the aging population, rural depopulation, the risk of closure of certain services, etc., the Rural Pact and the funds allocated to strengthen the development of rural areas offer citizens another means of escaping their fate.

Jacques Sauvé took the opportunity and founded in 2003 the Coalition Rural pact Saint-Joachim-de-Shefford, which aims to develop projects which will promote collective prosperity and to support citizen engagement. Over fifteen projects submitted by questionnaire to 1200 souls of the municipality. Over a third of respondents expressed their enthusiasm about the project of the culture of the pear in Haute-Yamaska.

“It is above all a community project,” said its chief instigator; “Citizens who have land are solicited. They are offered to stimulate these plots lots, often unoccupied, by planting pear trees. To date, twenty owners are willing to get involved! “To ensure the viability of the project, in addition to the feasibility study, 200 pear trees have been planted on the grounds of the municipality and citizens. To formalize the process and involve citizens, cooperative should come soon: it will ensure that plant and care pears, picking and processing fruit.

Parents and elected officials have mobilized and supported by the Local Development Centre (CLD), transformed the little village school at International School, succeeding suddenly to double the size!

However, the project is dormant for four years. Indeed, the population of Saint-Joachim first had to take its destiny in two other cases: the school might close for lack of pupils, and the owners of the only convenience store is also about to close up shop. Whatever, citizens have been bold: the cooperative “At the heart of the village” is created, allowing to offer the population a local multiservice complex including a restaurant, a convenience store and gas station. As for the school, parents and elected officials have mobilized and supported by the Local Development Centre (CLD), transformed the little village school at International School, succeeding suddenly to double the size!

Much work remains to be done in Saint-Joachim: to plant, build, build … The Coalition has also submitted the draft of the “Land of the pear” on track by creating, in 2010, a collective nursery that its axis activities on the cultivation of different varieties of pears, but also emerging cultures. Despite the magnitude of the task, the enthusiasm is unwavering: it seems that the project has “sown” in a sustainable way within the population civic awareness and a willingness to revitalize their territories.

The poetry bet

“… Open the soul as your eyes to the beauty,” Alfred Desrochers

Classified by the government in 2001 as a village “devitalized”, the Municipality of Saint-Venant-de-Paquette, in the heart of the Appalachians, fighting for nearly fifteen years to avoid becoming a “silent zone”. The hundred residents who have made Saint-Venant home port capitalized on culture to revitalize the village.

“The project was born of the meeting between the City and the citizens’ initiative,” said Richard Séguin

The visitor who travels to Saint-Venant can immerse themselves in the heart of Quebec poetry in pacing the poetic trail, three kilometers poems, sculptures and enchanting landscapes. Added to this are the tree house, both small cafe and interpretation center of the forest, and the centennial church that sometimes turns into an exhibition, now in theater. Every two years, is also held under a starry sky, the Night of poetry.

Initially, Richard Séguin, singer-songwriter rooted in Saint-Venant “wanted to give a place for poets in the village.” Subsequently, a meeting with professors from the Institute of Food Technology (ITA) allows you to specify the project and link the idea of ​​poetic writings with the concepts of landscaping.

The idea was proposed to the village. “The mayor’s open attitude, Rolland Lavigne at the time, has changed that. The project was born of the meeting between the City and the citizens’ initiative, “said Mr. Séguin. The community followed suit: “People from different backgrounds, farmers, carpenters, teachers, etc. mobilized. For over a year, we spent two weekends per month to the project and everyone worked. ”

Other actors have joined the project. “I think the meeting of forces, that is the secret”, says Richard Séguin. Today, teachers, graphic designers, architects, sculptors, students, neighboring municipalities and community organizations in the region are part of the adventure.

The village of Saint-Venant is now visible on the map of Québec: the first year, 2,500 visitors have drunk poetry, and by the third year they were 5000. “The Power of Words” is the unquantifiable impact, but most of this initiative by the artist: “There are things that play in the invisible. When one makes an appointment to the site or site Gaston Miron Marie Uguay, these names have a face, words, their way of life say. Belonging to the middle through these meetings and impressions. ”

These various social innovation laboratories require a constant vigilance of his actors in a context or socio-economic challenges are many. However, hope is required. It is clear that in each of these communities a process begins: the ownership by citizens of their development, elected officials who support civic initiatives and the will to act for the common good. And if democratic renewal passed by the ingenuity of our regions and their communities?