New project for Pontiac fosters common vision for environmental sustainability
A newly launched initiative named For a Green and Prosperous Outaouais (Pour un Outaouais vert et prospère) has gained momentum over the past several months after a series of roundtables brought together key individuals and organizations to create a shared regional vision for environmental sustainability.
The project, which was initiated by Pontiac federal MP Sophie Chatel, aims to strengthen the region’s ability to respond to the climate crisis by promoting local action, consultation and stronger ties between the federal and local levels.
The initial steps of the project involved hosting a series of roundtable discussions on a set of interrelated themes such as sustainable agriculture and forestry, transitioning to a green economy, sustainable business practices and digital technologies.
The consultations brought together individuals and organizations from diverse sectors, including agricultural and forestry workers, local environmental protection organizations, environmental sustainability experts, and other engaged citizens. Mayors and municipal staff participated in the roundtables along with provincial MNAs.
The roundtables were held in the MRCs of Pontiac, Des Collines-de-l'Outaouais and La Vallée-de-la-Gatineau.
In an interview with the West Quebec Post, Ms Chatel said that one of the main reasons for starting the project was to encourage local action and initiative and to create links between existing organizations. “We can have a wonderful climate plan and the best targets possible at the federal level, but to get things done, we need to act regionally as well.”
She also said that the project aims to connect local action with programs and decision making at the federal level through developing concrete proposals and priorities that will be presented to the federal government. “The opportunities [for federal funding] are there, but we have to prepare and we have to take them.…
If we all align ourselves toward common goals and objectives, then things can really happen. If we are too scattered, there won’t be any results.… We have these big waves that are coming our way and we have to prepare our community for it; if we only deal with short-term issues, we will be washed away.”
Chatel said that, following the series of roundtable discussions held earlier this year, the strongest ideas were identified and presented to national and international experts for their feedback and their insight into the experience of other municipalities. The feedback was then used to refine the proposals before publishing them on an online community consultation platform.
Highlighting public consultation as an essential part of the process, Ms Chatel said that the platform will be open for participation and discussion over the coming months, before the proposals are brought to the federal level. Those using the platform can also submit their own proposals for consultation.
Alongside the online consultations, an additional roundtable on the theme of Nature Protection will also be held at the end of November. The roundtable is planned to take place right before the upcoming COP15 international biodiversity conference, which will be held in Montreal this December.
Local organizations engage and connect
The Green and Prosperous Outaouais initiative is a cross-party project that creates common spaces for consultation and collaboration between local organizations and engaged citizens. Among the organizations involved in the initiative so far are the National Capital Commission (NCC), The Gatineau Park, The Friends of the Gatineau River, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Kitigan-Zibi reserve and MRCs within the Pontiac riding.
A key organization that has been involved in the initiative from the very start is the Conseil Régional de L’Environnment et du Développment Durable de L’Outaouais (CREDDO – the Outaouais Council for the Environment and Sustainable Development), an Outaouais-wide organization focused on environmental action that operates under the mandate of Quebec’s Ministry of the Environment.
In an interview with the West Quebec Post, the Director General of CREDDO Benoit Delage highlighted the importance of the initiative for building a common vision in the Outaouais. He said that while the region certainly does not lack initiative and innovative projects, the biggest challenge is building stronger connections between those projects.
“The main challenge that we have in the region is connecting different environmental projects. If we want to have an impact, we need to create more links.… There is a lot of energy, but we need to make sure that all people with knowledge are connected to one another and get involved locally if we are going to build a common vision for sustainability in the region.”
Another organization involved in the initiative, and that will play an active role in November’s roundtable on nature conservation, is Action Chelsea for the Respect of the Environment (ACRE). ACRE focuses on ecological education and awareness raising and nature conservation in Chelsea and other municipalities in the region.
Commenting on the For a Green and Prosperous Outaouais initiative, president of ACRE Stephen Woodley highlighted the importance of a common conversation on nature conservation at the local level, “Whether it is agricultural conservation, local land trust conservation, or addressing pollution in the Gatineau River, it all connects to what we are trying to do nationally or internationally to resolve the nature conservation crisis we are facing on the planet.
We think it’s great that the government is enabling a conversation among citizens in the region for nature conservation. It’s absolutely fundamental. We are in the midst of a global biodiversity crisis and it's fabulous to be able to talk about it here.”
How to participate
All residents living in the Pontiac electoral district are encouraged to contribute to the consultations through the For a Green and Prosperous Outaouais online platform. To access the platform, visit https://outaouaisvert.cocoriko.org/ and open an account by clicking “Create an account” and following the onscreen instructions. After creating an account, you can select one of the consultations by clicking on the images on the right. Each consultation includes several themes with proposals on which you can vote and comment. To submit your own proposal which can be voted for and commented on by others, click the blue “Create a proposal” button.
For further information about the initiative, visit www.outaouaisvert.ca
or contact Pontiac MP Sophie Chatel at Sophie.Chatel@parl.gc.ca.
Visit outaouaisvert.cocoriko.org to participate in online consultations about environmental protection and sustainability in Outaouais.
Photo credit: Archives.
Photo: Pontiac federal MP Sophie Chatel, aims to strengthen the region’s ability to respond to the climate crisis by promoting local action, consultation and stronger ties between the federal and local levels.