History of the Areas of Prime Concern (ZIP) Program

The ZIP concept was developed in 1988 by Environment Canada. This division of the banks of the St. Lawrence into ecological and urban zones was part of a partnership-based structure whose main objective was to involve citizens and stakeholders in protecting and developing their area of the St. Lawrence and ultimately to take charge of it.

Alongside this initiative, many Quebec environmental groups, headed by the Union québécoise pour la conservation de la nature (UQCN), came together in 1989 to create Stratégies Saint-Laurent (SSL). Its aim is to promote involvement on the part of the population and regional officials in protecting, safeguarding and developing the St. Lawrence.

The fusion of these two approaches, along with close collaboration between these groups and government administrators, led to the creation of the ZIP Program in 1993. The purpose of this program is to provide financial support for concerted action among stakeholders working along the St. Lawrence in order to involve them in the improvement of their environment. Fourteen ZIP committees were thus established along the St. Lawrence and the Saguenay during Phases II and III of the St. Lawrence Plan (1993–2003). 

Note: As of 2010, there are 13 ZIP committees at work on the St. Lawrence; the Alma-Jonquière ZIP is no longer part of the network.

Map representing the location of the 13 ZIP Committees (Areas of Prime Concern) along the St. Lawrence

Image of Quebec, courtesy of the Canadian Space Agency (2006). The data were received by the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, and then processed and distributed by MDA Geospatial Services.

ZIP Program funding

The program funds concerted action activities and is aimed exclusively at ZIP committees and Stratégies Saint-Laurent.

Stratégies Saint-Laurent

Stratégies Saint-Laurent helped set up the ZIP committees along the St. Lawrence and still offers them services that ensure cohesive action along the St. Lawrence (training, extranet, opportunities for exchange, etc.). Stratégies Saint-Laurent’s main objective is to bring the ZIP committees together in order to facilitate concerted action at the inter-regional, provincial and national level, as well as to involve the public and regional officials in protecting, safeguarding and developing the St. Lawrence.

Zip committees

ZIP committees are local organizations for concerted action with the mandate of bringing together the main users of a particular section of the St. Lawrence and facilitating concerted action between them in order to resolve local and regional problems regarding the ecosystems of the St. Lawrence and their use.

Responsibilities of committee members:

  • establishing common ground—including between groups with vastly divergent interests—with a view to taking action
  • establishing consensus on priority actions in order to achieve the desired results for the population of their zone
  • creating a common vision for the rehabilitation and protection of the St. Lawrence
  • sharing information and expertise

ZIP committees and the integrated management of the St. Lawrence

Because of their expertise in matters relating to the joint efforts of stakeholders operating along the St. Lawrence, the ZIP committees have been called to participate in the implementation of integrated management of the St. Lawrence. Click here to learn more.