Engaging Communities To Improve The St. Lawrence

Community Aquatic Monitoring Program

Station RVSL #1 – Côte-Nord du Golfe (CNG) ZIP Committee – Aurore Pérot

Picture of Aurore Pérot


A wildlife biologist and ornithologist, Aurore received a master’s degree in biology from the Université de Moncton and went on to gain a wealth of experience in the management of natural areas. She refined her expertise during her mandate at the CNG ZIP Committee as the person charged with characterizing coastal habitats of interest in the Minganie region and the restoration and enhancement of critical plant habitats in Cap Ferré. Under her leadership, this project earned the CNG ZIP Committee a Phénix de l’environnement award in 2012. In 2009, she temporarily left the ZIP Committee to pursue a unique experience on Crozet Island in the French Southern and Antarctic Territories, where she wintered for one year as an ornitho-ecologist, conducting demographic monitoring of seabirds and marine mammals. Upon her return to the ZIP Committee in summer 2011, Aurore resumed her duties at the head of the organization.


The Community Aquatic Monitoring Program (CAMP) introduces youth to marine biology and sampling techniques for fish fauna. Through this program, youth can participate in a scientific project that aims to set up a reference database on fish and crustaceans found at the mouths of rivers and in bays along the North Shore.


Participants at this presentation were interested in the sampling area as well as the species sampled. Many questions and comments concerned this aspect of the project. The Comité ZIP Côte-Nord du Golfe (Côte-Nord du Golfe ZIP committee) selected this site based on its physical characteristics, while also taking into account youth safety and the presence of tides. The project did not target molluscs, gastropods or shellfish, which are scarce or absent at the selected sampling site. The ZIP committee did not sample aquatic invasive species as part of this project either, as the sampling site lacked them.

As for the involvement and training of target clienteles, aspects questioned at the end of the presentation, the ZIP committee noted that this recently launched program (2011) has generated various degrees of involvement: some groups approached through schools, youth camps and Scouting movements actually return every year, particularly the Scouts, while others do not (as is the case with schools). It all depends on their motivation. The youth training scheduling is adapted to field conditions and particularly the fish species present at the site. A classroom session precedes the field collection work. The value placed on the data gathered was also a focus of discussions. The Comité ZIP Côte-Nord du Golfe is considering partnerships with a university and some departments (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Quebec’s Ministère des Ressources naturelles) that could include these data in reports.

To those who expressed concerns about the value of the data gathered, the ZIP committee pointed out that the program follows a methodology recognized and used by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, that the young people were supervised by a professional project manager and that the data can therefore be viewed as scientific acquisitions.

Although the advocated approach draws on that proposed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the project was not initially intended to result in the development of a biotic integrity index. However, this has not been entirely ruled out and will depend on the final data analysis.

Characterization, Awareness and Enhancement of Wetlands in the Magdalen Islands

Station RVSL #2 – Magdalen Islands ZIP Committee – Yves Martinet

Picture of Yves Martinet


Yves Martinet joined the Magdalen Islands ZIP Committee in 2000, first as a manager of the geomatics component, and later in various positions such as coordinator of five integrated management initiatives for inland waterways of the archipelago, project manager, assistant director, and finally director since 2006. A fervent believer in sustainable development, he tries to put this concept into practice daily by working in partnership with all stakeholders in the Magdalen coastal zone. He is particularly proud of his work to promote the development of environmental control mechanisms by the community, which uses a relationship built on trust to bring about many positive results that benefit the entire community. He participates in or coordinates various meetings for cooperation and consultation, and leads or organizes various surveys (types of clams), and data collection campaigns (bathymetry, plant characterization, wastewater effluents, reproduction of the Rainbow Smelt, water sampling, surveys etc.). He represents the organization on some twenty different work committees (issue tables, consultative committees, etc.) on various topics of interest (uses, resources etc.). He is also involved, at the local, regional and national level, with various boards of directors (Conseil régional de l’Environnement Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, steering committee for the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Coalition on Sustainability, etc.).


The results obtained as part of the project have allowed us to discover the importance of the diversity and extent of small wetlands (< 1 hectare) in the Magdalen Islands. While at the same time improving the cartography of wetlands and making the population (especially youth) aware of the importance of these natural gems to our quality of life, we have been able -- thanks to the close cooperation of involved stakeholders -- to create an standardized decision-making mechanism, based on the integration of an adapted and easy-to-use quality index, that allows us to justify the protection or possible altering of the archipelago’s wetlands.


Although interesting, the format of the presentations at the visiting stations left little time for question and answer periods. However, a number of stakeholders in attendance who were interested in this project asserted that they would later contact the ZIP committee. In particular, the stakeholders were wondering about the ZIP committee’s approach of involving the Municipality of Îles-de-la-Madeleine on the one hand and the private owners of the property where interventions were planned on the other. While the collaboration with the municipality took shape fairly quickly, more time and resources had to be invested in order to persuade the private owners. Overall, their reluctance when the project started in 2005 gradually gave way to a generally positive reception in 2008. This stems not only from the ZIP committee's efforts but also from the domino effect spread from one owner to the next. Technically speaking, the ZIP committee also drew inspiration from the approach used by Ducks Unlimited, a project collaborator, particularly with respect to database processing and photo interpretation. This project is ultimately a decision support tool for the municipality and the stakeholders involved. Accordingly, the municipality has stressed that it would like to see recommendations incorporated into the tool.

Plan for the Protection of Rainbow Smelt Spawning Grounds in the Saguenay River

Station RVSL #3 – Saguenay ZIP Committee – Ghislain Sylvain (DG) and Sébastien Cloutier (project manager)

Picture of Sébastien Cloutier


Ghislain Sylvain, Director General, Saguenay ZIP Committee

A geographer by training (B.Sc., UQAC, 1976), Mr. Sylvain worked for numerous private firms before being named to the position of director general of the Saguenay ZIP Committee in 1993. He has led several hundred environmental projects with different partners from the municipal, governmental, community and environmental sectors.

Sébastien Cloutier, project manager

Sébastien Cloutier received technical training in construction at the CÉGEP de Saint-Félicien (2000) before studying geography (B.Sc. U de S, 2005) and oceanography (M.Sc. UQAR, 2009), Mr. Cloutier joined the Saguenay ZIP Committee in 2009. With many collaborations under his belt, both in Quebec and elsewhere, he holds the position of oceanographic specialist for Aecom and is sometimes involved with the Saguenay ZIP Committee as a consultant.


The Saguenay River is one of the largest rivers in Quebec. The City of Saguenay, Quebec’s fifth-largest urban area, borders the section of the river known as Moyen Saguenay. The Moyen Saguenay has recently been identified as a unique place for Rainbow Smelt gathering and spawning in the Saguenay. The smelt is the base of the food chain in the Saguenay River and it is also fished for sport. Winter fishing activities bring in over $4 million annually in economic benefits for the area. However, in addition to being located in an urban zone, the Moyen Saguenay drains a watershed that is strongly affected by human activities. This troubling state of affairs was the motivation, in 2009, for the creation of a summary of knowledge. Following the distribution of this summary, two issue tables were set up, between 2010 and 2011, in order to gather recommendations and develop action plans to follow as part of a protection plan. These reflections have revealed a lack of knowledge regarding the biology of, and use of the area by, Rainbow Smelt in the Saguenay River. From this arose a proposal for a research project to study the reproduction of the species. This research project seeks to establish the scientific foundations for perennial management of smelt in the Saguenay, and includes three (3) components:


  1. Spawning and the upward migration of spawners

  3. The conditions for egg incubation

  5. The conditions for the larvae drift

The first phase of this study has been in progress since 2011, and a summary of results is currently being prepared. The final document may be available by the end of this year. The two other components combine the expertise of many scientists from UQAC and UQAR. The Saguenay ZIP Committee and its partners are currently searching for financing in order to advance this study.


The main topic discussed by participants in the Comité ZIP Saguenay’s (Saguenay ZIP committee’s) presentation involved granting protected status for the Saguenay River's Rainbow Smelt. In light of the resource’s economic importance (Saguenay ice fishing alone brings in $4 million annually) and ecological significance (important link in the food chain) and given that the species occurs, in part, in environments likely to affect it (industrial presence, urbanization and intensive farming), a number of stakeholders present asserted that smelt should receive special treatment and be managed to ensure sustainability. Participants also took an interest in the ZIP committee's work, which, in this instance, mainly consists of coordinating and educating the various stakeholders (users, including marina managers, recreational boaters and fishers; the mining and paper mill industry; agricultural representatives [UPA], managers and elected municipal officials) with respect to the resource’s sustainable use and the protection of its ecosystem. The current project for establishing sustainable management is in the knowledge acquisition phase. This phase is necessary and conditional on the implementation of a management plan. This acquisition of data will focus on three aspects: the spawning run, hydrodynamic conditions, and the physical and chemical monitoring of the environment in which the larvae grow (larval drift conditions).

Restoration and Development of the Lower St. Lawrence Shorefront

Station RVSL #4 – Southern Estuary ZIP Committee – Étienne Bachand (project leader)

Picture of Étienne Bachand


Étienne Bachand, MSc, was selected to lead this project. He is a 2010 graduate of the UQAR coastal geoscience research chair. In July 2010, Mr. Bachand joined the Southern Estuary ZIP Committee team and was tasked with continuing the “Côtes à côtes face aux risques côtiers” tour as project leader (http://www.cotesacotes.org, in French only). Mr. Bachand also helped create and disseminate the “Guide de bonnes pratiques au Bas-Saint-Laurent, restauration et aménagement du littoral” good practices guide for shoreline restoration and development in the Lower St. Lawrence region.. He participated in various shorefront restoration projects, namely at the mouth of the Mitis River in Rivière Ouelle and Sainte Flavie.


Our project addresses the restoration and development of the Lower St. Lawrence shoreline using environmentally friendly techniques, such as sand covering and plant-based engineering. The first part of the project consisted of developing a good practice guide that proposed various “green” techniques for stabilizing banks and a list of native plants adapted to marine conditions in the Lower St. Lawrence. The second part of the project involved applying these restoration techniques to two natural beaches in Sainte Flavie and Rivière Ouelle that were affected by the December 2010 storm. The guide and restoration work sought to provide coastal communities with various alternatives that are less costly and more environmentally friendly than traditional rigid structures (walls, riprap, etc.).


To address coastal issues, the Comité ZIP du Sud-de-l’Estuaire (ZIP committee for the southern estuary) has taken an alternative citizen engagement approach, the main benefits of which will include minimizing the costs of restoration and development approaches ($350/linear metre compared with an average $5,000/linear metre for riprap). The response to the use of an alternative to riprapping was divided: some approved while others are more skeptical and still need convincing (riprapping gives the impression of safety). The citizens and authorities of the municipalities of Sainte-Flavie and Rivière-Ouelle have cooperated. Implementing this type of approach is facilitated when municipalities are involved. In the context of this project, they provided machinery and covered planting costs, particularly in Rivière-Ouelle. The plants mainly came from Jardins Métis, which prepared wildrye plants and sold them at a good price ($0.75 per plant). The work was carried out on public lands belonging to the municipalities, but this type of project could certainly be applied to private lands. However, the mandate would then fall to citizens’ groups. The Comité ZIP du Sud-de-l’Estuaire will be providing the monitoring until the end of 2013. Those responsible for subsequent years will have to be designated. Recommendations have been made to the municipalities regarding the required upkeep. For example, additional sediment refills will be needed about every three to seven years.

Conservation and Development Plan for Public Lands on the North Shore

Station RVSL #5 – Lake Saint Pierre ZIP Committee – Louise Corriveau

Picture of Louise Corriveau


Louise Corriveau is passionate about wild spaces. Her lengthy career began with her position as director and assistant for wildlife protection at the ZEC des Nymphes controlled harvesting zone from 1987 to 2000. She then joined the Lake Saint Pierre ZIP Committee and quickly became director general (in 2004). Ms. Corriveau has close to 10 years of experience as director general of the ZIP Committee and has over 20 years of administrative, technical and environmental management experience. Her experience enables her to participate in, implement and supervise over 130 protection and development projects for the Lake Saint Pierre region. Additionally, she worked to create the Aire faunique du Lac Saint-Pierre community wildlife area and acted as its director from 2006 to 2010. With her team, she participates in some 30 action and issue tables, all targeting the Lake Saint Pierre region.


Some past activities were mindful of the environment, but others contributed to the degradation of wetlands on the north shore of Lake Saint Pierre. Although the area is known as a World Biosphere Reserve and a Ramsar site, few wildlife and plant data were available. Along with waste recovery by young socio professionals, in 2005 we conducted wildlife and plant surveys for the entire area (1010 ha). This work made it possible to begin several other outstanding projects: issue table on land procurement, construction of footbridges, deer project, monitoring of nest boxes, monitoring of invasive plants, etc.


Participants at this presentation were interested in the Comité ZIP du lac Saint-Pierre’s (ZIP committe for Lake St-Pierre’s) approach to coordinating and engaging the many partners associated with the project. The success of this process depends primarily on the ZIP committee’s expertise in regional engagement and coordination: the committee is well known and recognized by all the regional stakeholders. In addition, the project itself inspired action. Participants were surprised by the level of engagement of the municipal partners. The scope of the work performed and the funding raised also elicited positive feedback. The project relied on a complex financing package that brought together local, regional, provincial and federal partners via standard programs and public, government, private and industry contributions. Technically, it was the waste disposal and reclamation methods that elicited the most feedback and questions. The Comité ZIP du lac Saint-Pierre had prior waste disposal arrangements with municipal authorities and regional recyclers providing one container for materials destined for landfill and another destined for recycling. Recyclers accepted the metals. There were few questions about the scientific methodology used to acquire plant and wildlife data, as the presentation and documents provided to the audience were very detailed in this regard.

Characterization and Remediation of Riparian Strips on the Banks of the St. Lawrence River at Repentigny: from Dialogue to Action

Station RVSL #6 – Des Seigneuries ZIP Committee – Marie-Kim Boucher (DG)

Picture of Marie-Kim Bouchard


Ms. Marie-Kim Boucher holds a bachelor’s degree in biology with a major in wildlife and habitats from the Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) and a graduate degree in environmental management from the Université de Sherbrooke. She has worked for the Des Seigneuries ZIP Committee since January 2013 as the organization’s director general. Prior to this she had several years of field experience through participating in many wildlife inventories, and she has worked in the offices of various municipalities in the Laurentides and Estrie regions, where she was responsible for enforcing municipal environmental by-laws on such issues as the replanting of riparian strips and waste management. Ms Boucher has also worked for several organizations to raise awareness and disseminate scientific information.


Of the environmental problems related to the St. Lawrence River (SLR), the modification of the structure and composition of riparian strips is by far the most widespread throughout the fluvial corridor. The problem is most severe near large urban centres. In this context, and being mindful of ensuring continued use of the river and shoreline and the sustainable use of resources, the Des Seigneuries Zone d’Intervention Prioritaire (ZIP) Committee, in partnership with the City of Repentigny, developed a project to characterize and remediate the riparian strips on the banks of the St. Lawrence River on land in the city of Repentigny. The project, carried out between 2008 and 2011, was based in part on the guidelines of Repentigny’s environmental policy and sought to raise awareness among shoreline residents of the profound negative effects of shoreline clearing and hardening on the St. Lawrence. Its objectives were (1) to stimulate citizens’ interest for protecting the environment in order to promote the adoption of environmentally responsible behaviour that helps improve the quality of the fluvial environment, and (2) to offer tools to the community for restoring riparian strips. The project had three components: the characterization of riparian strips to obtain both an overall view and a detailed picture and to evaluate the health of these strips; awareness raising and training by addressing various themes related to the protection and development of riparian strips; and the development of two model riparian strips to show that the establishment of a good riparian strip is compatible with the concerns of shoreline residents. The project helped inform close to 400 people of this local environmental issue.


The project was made possible in particular through the support of private partners and the St. Lawrence Action Plan's Community Interaction Program. To carry out this project, the ZIP committee used approaches that increased societal acceptance and involvement by an initially reluctant public. To this end, the horticultural society offered its support in the form of discounts on certain plants, but the city did not create incentives to encourage citizen engagement. The Comité ZIP Baie des Chaleurs (Chaleur Bay ZIP committee), which participated in the presentation, suggested selling shrubs at discount once a year to encourage riverside participation. The project mobilized a large number of participants (about 100), but few remained involved. Therefore, citizen and volunteer engagement seems to be attributable to oversight provided by a structured organization, such as the Comité ZIP des Seigneuries (Des Seigneuries ZIP committee). The project has not altered access to the river, including at Parc de Île Lebel, where, incidentally, access was already difficult.

Biogeophysical Characterization of Japanese Knotweed Colonies: Study of Their Impact on Plant and Entomological Communities

Station RVSL #7 – Jacques Cartier ZIP Committee – Sylvie Bibeau

Picture of Sylvie Bibeau


Sylvie Bibeau is a new member of the Stratégies Saint-Laurent board of directors. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology, a graduate degree in toxicology and two certificates in environmental studies and ecology, and is also a member of the Association des biologists du Québec. She started working at the Jacques Cartier ZIP Committee in 2005 as project leader before being appointed director general in 2008. Previously, she was the director general of the Gardiens de l’environnement environmental stewardship organization, where she operated an education centre on recovery and recycling in the east end of Montréal. She later worked as a research assistant for Dr. Christian Blaise at Environment Canada’s St. Lawrence Centre, where she conducted scientific research for the publication of the Small scale Freshwater Toxicity Investigations book. She is very involved in the environmental community and sits on several boards of directors, including that of the Comité mixte municipal, industrie et citoyens de l’Est de Montréal (CMMIC-EM) and the Conseil régional de l’environnement de la Montérégie (CRE Montérégie).


The Japanese Knotweed and its different varieties are some of the most noxious exotic plants from a social, economic and environmental point of view. It modifies the structure and composition of plant communities and, as a result, has an impact on associated food chains. It limits the availability of soil nutrients by shading. It also affects the growth of native species by releasing toxins in rhizomes. Shorelines seem to be particularly affected by the problem of Japanese knotweed colonization. Shorelines have sparked great interest because they form a transition zone between the terrestrial and water environment. They also provide significant wildlife habitats, especially in highly urbanized landscapes. Through this project, we aim to deepen the understanding of communities in the CMM with respect to this invasive alien species and promote awareness of the issue in order to reduce the impact on shoreline communities. The objectives are to (1) increase our knowledge of this invasive alien species, (2) document its distribution in southern Quebec, (3) develop awareness raising tools for decision makers and nursery operators, and (4) identify control and eradication measures for fragile environments such as wetlands.


Participants were particularly concerned about the reasons for the Japanese Knotweed’s presence and its spread through the territory. According to the ZIP committee, it entered Quebec through horticulture. It occurs where humans are present, generally spreading from southern to northern Quebec. Once citizens have introduced the species and it rapidly spreads, they try to get rid of it. Many dispose of it in vacant lots. Excavating the soil that hosted the plant and reusing the same earth for backfill at another site also spreads Japanese Knotweed. In terms of eradication measures, another topic addressed, studies show that it is possible to control the species by combining two methods: pulling out the stems, which must be done five to six times from spring to late summer, and injecting a bioherbicide in the stems. To control or eradicate this species, the priorities should be to stop selling the plant in gardening stores, check backfill soil and educate the public about means of disposing of it. As for the capacity of this invasive alien species (IAS) to proliferate, the Comité ZIP Jacques-Cartier (Jacques Cartier ZIP committee) said that Japanese Knotweed has deep rhizomes that can extend up to 10 m. It can reproduce from the rhizome, even after 10 years, as well as via the stem. These characteristics make it a difficult IAS to control or eradicate.