Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Storm Hits Islands

The Magdalen Islands got banged up pretty severely by Mother Nature this holiday season.... Another storm hit the east coast yesterday with winds attaining 112 km or 60 mph. Extreme high tides were pushed in the high waves that flooded across many of the coastal roads, particularly between Red Cape and House Harbour (the stretch or road on either sides of the iron bridge).

Transport Quebec closed the road because it was impassable by car although many trucks and buses were allowed by.

Big Cape was also hit hard as well as Amherst's 'La Grave'.

La Grave by Sylvain Lapierre

La Cuesta by Diane Hebert

This storm has left many holiday travelers stranded in airports and ferry terminals or motel rooms. Here on the islands, it is unlikely to be cleared up for Christmas because more storm winds are due to hit again tomorrow, Thursday the 23rd of December, with up to 70 km winds plus gusts and rain.

Luckily there has been relatively few power outages in this last storm.
Convoy of school buses taking hospital workers across
the breach. Cars could not pass. - Magdalen Islands Portal

Click on photo caption to go to webpage of photo authors.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Government of Canada Invests in Musée de la Mer in Îles-de-la-Madeleine

On behalf of the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, Bernard Généreux, Member of Parliament (Montmagny-L'Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup), today announced funding for the Musée de la Mer, located on the island of Havre-Aubert.

"Our Government recognizes that the arts and culture sector plays a major role in our economy," said Minister Moore. "That is why we invest in projects that not only create more welcoming venues that help preserve and present our heritage, but invigorate Canada's economy as well."

"We are very pleased to support this important museum in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine," said Mr. Généreux. "Investing in the Musée de la Mer means creating an environment that is conducive to conservation and to sharing the heritage and history of the islands' inhabitants."

"We are extremely pleased by the Government of Canada's financial involvement in the Musée de la Mer renovation and expansion project," said Louis Bernier, Chair of the Board of the museum. "This funding will enable our organization to fulfill its mission under improved conditions and enhance the museum, cultural, and tourism activities offered in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine to an even broader audience."

The Musée de la Mer, founded in 1969, is a non-profit organization with a mission to conserve and promote a variety of items associated with the heritage and history of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine. The museum's renovation and expansion project will make it possible to increase the visitor capacity in exhibition rooms, develop storage spaces for the collections, and improve their conservation standards. The work carried will also ensure that the current building is brought up to standards for the comfort and safety of employees and visitors. 

The Government of Canada has provided funding of $273,000 through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage. This program seeks to improve physical conditions for artistic creativity and arts presentation or exhibition. It is also designed to increase access for Canadians to performing, visual, and media arts, and to museum collections and heritage displays. As part of Canada's Economic Action Plan 2009, an additional $60 million over two years was announced to stimulate the economy by investing in cultural infrastructure through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Government Grant to Improve Islands Telecommunication System

Joel Arseneau, Diane Arsenault, Germain Chevarie,
Francine Cyr, and Denis Michaud
The deputy of the Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Mr. Germain Chevarie, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy and Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr. Laurent Lessard and the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports, Mrs. Line Beauchamp, announced a grant for the financial assistance from the Quebec government for $2,059,737.00 to support the implementation of a broadband telecommunication network to the Magdalen Islands.

The proposed deployment of a broadband telecommunication network bandwidth will link the buildings of the Islands School Board, Commission Scolaire des Iles, the Municipality of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine and the two schools in the Eastern Shores School Board. Network integrated electronic communications Iles-de-la-Madeleine (RICEIM) will act as the representative agency for the project deployment of this network.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy will contribute the amount of $1,381,742.00 in Quebec’s outreached Villages.

"With financial aid, the Magdalen Islands can count on the many resources offered by information and communication technology. This program will therefore provide citizens with a wide variety of resources, products and services essential to the local and regional development ", said Minister Laurent Lessard.

For its part, the Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports grant under that program, a sum of $677,995, which will be paid at two educational institutions: the Commission Scolaire des Îles ($601,064.00 ) and the Eastern Shores School Board ($76,931.00). 

"The schools will benefit from being connected and their connection will promote the academic success of students who will gain more skills," said Minister Line Beauchamp.

"This project serves the desire of Islanders to join in order to move forward on the technological, economic and cultural development well. This infrastructure provides a valuable foundation for regional development. Thus contributing to the installation of a telecommunications infrastructure that meets the needs of the community, the Quebec government shows its commitment to effectively support this development," said MP Germain Chevarie.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ottawa Increases Ferry Funding for the East Coast

Last Tuesday night, November 30, 2010, the Federal government came to the decision to increase the amount of funding they would normally give to the companies running the three ferry services of the Maritime Provinces and Quebec. These services are vital commuting and communication links connecting the Islands to the Maritime Provinces.

Over the next three and a half to four years the ferry systems for the Gulf of Saint Lawrence will receive a boost to their financial burdens. The Federal government has decided to increase the funding for the services another $51 million over the next three years, until the end of March 2014 for the Picto/PEI run and the PEI/Magdalen Islands (Iles de la Madeleine) run until March 30, 2015. This will be in addition to the $32 million already earmarked in the 2010 federal budget.

The funding will be broke down in several ways, including the use of $6 million to keep the Madeleine running between Souris, PEI and Grindstone (Cap-aux-Meules) Magdalen Islands, 12 months a year by using the icebreaking services of the coast guard, to use the service February and March, two months when the ferry services is normally shut down for the winter. This will be the third winter season the Madeleine has been in service all year round.

These ferry services employ hundreds of personal and generate many millions of dollars in revenue. These services contribute significantly to the economic sustainability of our region by promoting employment and business opportunities for the people of the region. Forty-five million dollars will be used operating costs and maintain the ships in service.

"The Government of Canada understands the importance of these ferry services to the local communities and economy," said the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. "In addition to providing safe and effective transportation to remote communities, the investments announced today will go a long way in supporting the regional economy and transportation network in Eastern Canada."

In support of these three ferry services, Transport Canada owns four vessels and six ferry facilities that are leased to the private operators for a nominal amount. They are: Saint John, N.B. - Digby, N.S., Ferry Service; Wood Islands, P.E.I. - Caribou, N.S., Ferry Service; and Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Que. - Souris, P.E.I., Ferry Service. The existing agreements for these ferry services were set to expire on March 31, 2011. Transport Canada is committed to working with the provinces and local communities on a long-term approach to these ferry services.

les-de-la-Madeleine, Que. - Souris, P.E.I., Ferry Service

The federal government has been providing support for the ferry service between Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Souris since 1971. This service, which is operated by CTMA Traversier Ltée, is normally provided for 10 months of the year (April to January), closing for two months (February and March), given the challenges of operating TC's vessel in heavy ice conditions. In 2008-09 and 2009-10, TC supported two short-term extensions of the ferry service in February and March using the operator's own ice class vessel. Since 2005-06, TC has provided nearly $40 million to the private operator (including $3.8 million for an extended winter service in 2008-09 and 2009-10).

The extended winter ferry service is expected to generate nearly $12 million in socioeconomic benefits* for the community and local businesses, mostly due to reduced transportation and business costs, and increased employment.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Natural Gas Company Responds to Provincial Decision to Stop Drilling Process

The natural gas company, Gastem has responded today, to Quebec's decision to stop the exploratory and exploitation of nonrenewable resources in the Gulf of St Lawrence.

Gastem has postponed its exploratory drilling for its sit in the village of Fatima, until next year.

Gastem President, Raymond Savoie explained that the company wants the time the time to bring in a few additional precautions to the project, in order to reduce to a minimum its environmental impression to the islands.
For example, the company wants to add a more superior situation than is normal for drilling a well of this caliber. Gastem has decided to add a double withholding pool for its used waters.

Gastem also plans to hold a series of informational and consultation meetings with the Islanders, starting around the end of October, in consideration of the work committee of the Municipality of the Islands on the topic of hydrocarbons.

The president of Attention Fragîles, Danielle Giroux is a member of this committee, believes this to be a wise decision, for the continuation of the foreseen drilling that was initially to begin this fall, and the announcement of a series of informational encounters. She believes that despite all, that the Office of public audiences in environment also must take an independent consultation. 
The Gastem President wants to look for a consensus with the Islanders. The company understands that it will never have a unanimous support. 

It is convinced that gas exploitation on the islands would offer a clean alternate energy, to using diesel, and would favor the emergence of economical project development. 

Meanwhile the Green Party of Canada is pressing the Quebec government for a permanent moratorium on the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Gulf of St Lawrence.   The Party argues that two out of the five provinces that border the Gulf, Quebec and Prince Edward Island have already taken a stand in this regard.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

One Program That Has Helped

Grande-Entree fishing boats
A program given by the Magdalen Islands Local Development Center (CLD), The Young Entrepreneurs Program was a resounding success with the young fishermen of the islands.

With an awarded budget of $400,000 in 2008, the CLD helped with many start up fishing outfits.

It wasn’t a surprise that the CLD chose to concentrate its efforts in the fishing industry, with more than 400 fishing enterprises from the islands.

This aide was given to the transfer of fishing permits and outfits to the next generation. Succession, training to be ready for the sea is more present in the fisheries industry that in any other sector in Quebec.

For the past three years, the CLD has helped thirty-five young Magdalen Islanders acquire their fishing business.  Mostly these young are the sons of captains and have been helpers for years.  They are young and have fishing diplomas from the local Island school board.

They each received a maximum grant of $12,000 from the CLD to help with the purchase of their new business. It also helped in defraying the training costs involved and it allowed the young fishermen to have management coaching.

However, the budget is now gone and the CLD hopes to have additional short-term funds from the Quebec government to continue in other sectors on the islands.

Over seven million dollars of investments were generated in less than three years in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

There Will Be No Exploration For Oil and Gas In Sections of the Gulf

The government of Quebec took the stand, late last week, that there would be no exploration or operating activities for oil or gas in the basin of the estuary and north-western Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Deputy Premier Nathalie Normandeau said that"in light of the results of the first strategic environmental assessment, we can already confirm that the basin that includes the Estuary and the north-western Gulf of St. Lawrence is too complex and fragile. "

"From the Isle of Orleans to the island of Anticosti, many of the communities are dependent on tourism-related activities or the commercial fishing and it is out of question for our government to develop a new industry to the detriment othesr already existing ", argued Ms. Normandeau.

The government is now awaiting the report of the second strategic environmental assessment in the fall of 2012, that covers the basin of the Bay of Chaleur, the Anticosti Basin (northern Gulf of St. Lawrence) and the Magdalen Basin (southern Gulf of St. Lawrence).

Once the report is submitted to the government in autumn 2012, "Consultations with Aboriginal coastal communities, and the  island of Anticosti basin, Madeleine and the Bay of Chaleur will take place," said Minister Normandeau.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is to supervise the conduct of exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the marine environment.

"The SEA does not replace the work of the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE). Instead, it serves to establish the background which could be carried out against studies of environmental impact on specific projects of oil and gas development in the marine environment and which will subsequently be the subject of hearings BAPE ", said the government statement.

According to estimates, up to 2 billion barrels of oil could be drawn beneath the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, at the reservoir of oil and natural gas at the Old Harry site, which is the subject of a dispute between Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Jean-Matthieu Sails To Seal Hunt

Only one boat left the islands to sail to the seal herd and participate in the annual seal hunt, the Jean-Matthieu.  She left the wharf on Sunday morning at four o’clock in the morning and headed for the Lower North Shore, with a dozen seal hunters.
They went to find the small herd of seal that the Canadian Fisheries and Oceans plane had spotted off St. Augustine, near Blanc-Sablon, Quebec . The Jean-Matthieu is scheduled to arrive Monday morning at the hunting site, after thirty hours of navigation. 

The owner of the butchery shop, la Boucherie Côte à Côte, seal hunter Réjean Vigneau is on board the ship. His purpose for hunting the seal is to supply seal meat to approximately twenty restaurants in the province of Quebec.  They are hoping to attain at least a thousand seal per day.

The seal hunt officially opened on Friday, March 26th, 2010, in spite of the unusual absence of ice in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Club Vacances Les Iles Inc. Receives $824,666 Renovations Grant

The Minister for Economic Development Canada, the Honorable Denis Lebel, and the member of Parliament for the Iles de la Madeleine, Monsieur Germain Chevarie, on behalf of the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy, Laurent Lessard, are pleased to announce that the Salicornia Inn (Club Vacances Les inc.) will receive a joint financial support of $824,666 paid under the Quebec Building Canada Fund Communities Component for the renovation of several of its buildings.  
The project is aimed at the expansion and renovation of several buildings of the Salicorne Inn located in the center of Grand Entry. The work will include the construction of a multipurpose room in the main building, building repairs and home services and the development of a center for physical activity in the building "Le Phare". The project will benefit the entire community of Magdalen Islands, besides allowing the islands to host a new international customers and business. 

"The proposed renovation of the Inn, The Samphire will benefit residents and businesses alike  the community of Grand Entry and Magdalen Islands. In doing so, we ensure that people enjoy a quality of life that creates the country's reputation. Indeed, the Government of Canada's goal is to provide each community with modern facilities essential to health and safety of all citizens. The renewal of public infrastructure is part of a comprehensive plan of action that can prosper, in a healthy environment, "said Minister Lebel. 

"By participating in this project, the Government of Quebec will accept the priority to providing the municipalities of Quebec infrastructure to adapt to our realities and focus on sustainable development. By injecting new capital into the Quebec Infrastructures Plan, the government wants to accelerate the achievement of many infrastructure projects in the territory of Quebec, such as those within the area of Grand Entry, Magdalen Islands to improve the well being of citizens of Quebec, create jobs and sustain good economic performance. We give quality infrastructure, tools needed to meet the challenges of the future, "said MP Germain Chevarie.  

For the completion of this project, it will require a total investment of $1, 237, 000. The governments of Quebec and Canada will each donate $412, 333, representing a total government assistance of $824,666, while the Salicornia Inn (Club Vacances Les inc.) actively participates in the project for the amount of $412, 334.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

High Winds Blast Magdalen Islands Again

Island Chalet Washed Away

La Martinique - Residents of the Magdalen Islands have been concerned about erosion for several years now but after high winds swept a chalet away from it's foundation damaged several other homes yesterday, the concern will become much greater.

Fortunately no one was injured when gale-force winds blustered across the islands and blew down a few summer homes near the shore. The chalet in question was knocked off its posts early in the morning during a fierce windstorm.

Two walls were torn off and furniture was flung down the beach, including a sofa bed, kitchen chairs and a propane tank.  Power lines kept the house on a loose tether that didn't stop the waves from beating down on it, Deraspe said.

"All day, we were battered by waves," he said. Mr. Deraspe tied what was left of the cottage to large boulders on the beach. He estimates the damage will cost him up to $40,000.

Islanders are worried about the weather and believe storms are more frequent now than in previous years, Deraspe said. Several other homes on the shore were damaged by high water levels that caused flooding.

Waves are eating away the shoreline and a mild winter meant there wasn't enough ice cover in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to absorb the impact. SandCove beach, which is normally high above the sea and at least 20 wide, is non-existent and the waves are chewing away at the sandy capes, as the photo shows. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Canadian Seal Hunt Vindicated?

United States Humane Society Stands Accused!

The United States Humane Society has been accused of using unjust methods to illegally influence the European Parliament to impose a boycott of seal products last year. The methods have been considered a tactic of the Mafia and the SPCA now is the subject of a lawsuit before the U.S. Federal Courts.

The USSPCA has been the main opponent of the Canadian seal Hunt for many years and has been a serious thorn in the side for Magdalen Islands seal hunters.  Now they face prosecution under the RICO anti-mafia law because they have been accused of having paid $190,000 for false testimony.

Theses illegal methods which have been described as Mafia type actions were used against members of the European Parliament before the vote that imposed a boycott fo seal products in Europe last year.  One such member, Miels Busk of Denmark, said that he was threatened by the Humane society if he did not vote for the boycott.

The alleged conduct of the Humane Society was uncovered by the Consumer Freedom Center for American consumers.  David Martosko, director of the Research Center for US consumers said that they do not know yet how far this organization has gone to influence the decisions of European Parliamentary members.  

The philosophy of these animal groups is quite simple, said Martosko. All animals are people in the eyes of these groups including the seal.  David Martosko believes that a jury could put the Humane Society and its partners like the IFAW (International Fund for Animal Protection) into bankruptcy.  The trial might begin as early as June 2010.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Seal Hunt 2010

The Canadian Seal Hunt will officially open on March 28, 2010 but here on the islands the hunters are not prepared to go.  They realize that they have no hope in reaching the herd safely.  Earlier this month, the seal watching expeditions were canceled because there was no ice in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. There is still no ice and the seal didn’t have their pups here even though the herd is estimated to be 7 million head. 

There is a substantial loss of income to the tourist trade on the islands. The Chateau Madelinot (an island motel) which is normally filled to capacity this time of the year, remains closed as well as shops and boutiques who cater to the influx of seal watching visitors.

The economic loss to workers of the seal processing plant TAMASU and the hunters will amount to over six million dollars. For an area as small as the Magdalen Islands, the amount may be devastating for many families. As much as 25% to 30% of the yearly income for many fishermen come from the seal hunt.

Seal hunter, Réjean Vigneau, owner of Boucherie Côte à Côte (Coast to Coast Butchery) affirmed that on Sunday March 28, there is little chance that islanders will take part in the hunt.  The herd has been found in the Strait of Belle Isle and good 30 hours sailing from the islands. The herd is close to land and there are under water rocks and shoals in the area. Also the herd has settled on the inside of a swell in the ice.

It is unlikely that Mr. Vigneau will be able to provide for the twenty or so island restaurants, which would purchase approximately 40,000 pounds of seal meat this year.

In addition to suffering an economic loss, workers, hunters and fishermen helpers will also have less government support in the form of employment insurance next fall.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Music of the Islands!

I don't know who wrote this piece or created the video, but I like it! It is a good description of home.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010