Our environment: we’re all responsible
Environmental protection is a frequent headline grabber that raises passions and leaves no one indifferent.
Because it’s become clear that humanity needs to change its habits to preserve the planet for our children, we, as individuals, must adopt simple measures day to day that will shield our environment from greater damage in the long term.
The Municipality of Val-des-Monts is blessed with a unique natural setting that depends on our careful stewardship to preserve its unique character and its wealth of ecosystems. To tackle this weighty responsibility and, in the process, improve the quality of life of our current and future generations of residents, we’ve enacted an environmental policy reflecting the reality of Val-des-Monts.
The driving force behind the environmental policy is our commitment to manage our activities responsibly and in keeping with the principles of sustainable development. We’ve also introduced environmental-management strategies designed to encourage residents to join the collective effort to improve quality of life throughout our community.
Municipal Council first ratified the policy on September 1, 2009, and approved an update on November 15, 2011 (resolution 11-11-389).
Val-des-Monts’ approach to managing the environment
Val-des-Monts emphasizes collective environmental stewardship, to which all residents are called on to contribute and which stems from an overarching vision and key municipal policy directions.
Clearly, the application of an environmental policy driven by sustainability must be an integral part of the Municipality’s administrative processes and thus permeate every facet of these processes: organizational structure, practices, policies, decision-making, planning, procedures and guidelines, essentially every component that can somehow affect how the policy works.
The Environment and Urban Planning Service believes the environmental policy should serve the following purposes and be applied accordingly:
Give Val-des-Monts an action plan that allows it, together with its partners, to gradually introduce mechanisms designed to protect, restore, enhance and properly manage the environment, the overarching goal being to continue providing current residents and future generations with the best quality of life possible.
Environmental policy directions
Three core directions should guide the Municipality in how it applies and manages its environmental policy:
- Decision-making should revolve primarily on the principles of sustainable development for all municipal services.
- Municipal directives, policies and by-laws should mesh with and reflect the vision set out in the environmental policy.
- Plans and projects for land use should stem from a vision focused on sound, reasonable development.
To complement the policy directions above, we need to zero in on the following broad collective goals:
- Managing wastewater and septic facilities consistently
The research is clear: the condition of septic systems directly affects our environment and, thus, our quality of life. With that in mind, the Municipality implemented a program in 2010 to measure and empty sludge in septic tanks progressively throughout Val-des-Monts.
- Managing drinking water
Val-des-Monts took part in the H2O des Collines regional project, launched in the fall of 2010 as a community-wide water-research and monitoring initiative designed jointly by the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais and the municipalities of Cantley, Chelsea, L’Ange-Gardien, La Pêche, Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette and Pontiac. The aim was to learn more about surface water and groundwater in MRC des Collines de l’Outaouais and to manage these resources sustainably.
- Managing stormwater
Ditches generate significant amounts of phosphorus and suspended solid. The Municipality therefore needs new approaches to sound stormwater management.
- Protecting forest, aquatic and wetland environments
To protect sensitive environments to the fullest, the Municipality intends to initiate a program to acquire protected areas and dedicate them specifically to the protection of biological diversity and natural resources. The protected areas will be carefully selected according to their distinguishing characteristics.
Protected areas serve primarily to conserve species and their genetic variability, and to safeguard natural processes and ecosystems that sustain life in all its forms.
Activities carried out across a protected area or in part of that area must not alter its core biological features.
- Enhancing natural environments
The Municipality will work to make its natural environments better known and better appreciated by both setting up discovery/interpretive panels and adding facilities that allow residents to make the most of these settings (rest areas, parks, hiking/snowshoeing trails, canoeing, etc.).
- Promoting reforestation
Forests and vegetation still provide the best defence against erosion and global warming and the best way to beautify our environment.
Val-des-Monts will therefore set up a tree nursery to produce tree seedlings and tend to their growth for roughly five years, long enough for the new trees to gain enough height and girth to then be handed over free to residents in a collective effort to reforest our region.
- Supporting composting directly
Composting is a smart way to reuse organic waste generated by human activity. Composting not only reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, but also produces a rich, natural and effective fertilizer.
Thanks to Val-des-Monts’ municipal composting program, residents can acquire composters for a nominal fee. What’s more, because the resulting natural fertilizer is used right on the property, the Municipality doesn’t have to collect it.
- Better regulating farming and livestock activities inside and outside agricultural zones
Agricultural activities unmistakably carry weighty environmental impacts. Municipal regulations governing these activities will be reviewed and strengthened to prompt the implementation of sound environmental practices.
- Protecting and enhancing green spaces in new housing projects and in developed zones
At the moment, Val-des-Monts doesn’t have any measures designed to protect green space in housing projects and developed areas.
That’s why we plan to update municipal by-law s in a way that further protects green-space protection in these areas and, in the process, increases their value while creating vegetation buffer zones that keep different land uses separate.
- Closely monitoring air quality
Air is obviously essential to life, and air quality directly affects living conditions for one and all. Val-des-Monts therefore plans to measure how industrial activity from facilities like asphalt factories, quarries and sandpits affects air quality and the environment overall.
- Reducing the impact of noise
Among the factors impacting living conditions are noise levels. Be it from quarries, sandpits, the traffic they cause or their hours of operation, noise disturbs the peace and undermines an area’s appeal. Our by-laws will therefore be adjusted to give us the means to lessen noise pollution.
- Mobilizing residents and organizations to improve our environmental stewardship
The Municipality would be unable to introduce such wide-scale reforms without the general public’s support and involvement. In addition to supporting the Fédération des lacs, we’ve designed tools that residents and organizations can use to play an active role in this collective effort.
- Assigning new responsibilities to the Urban-Planning Advisory Committee (Comité consultatif d’urbanisme)
To draft the action plan and assist Municipal Council, the Urban-Planning Advisory Committee has taken on an expanded mandate that now includes defining the desired scopes of action, submitting recommendations to Council and organizing public consultations.
Environmental protection succeeds most when a setting’s stakeholders combine their efforts to make that setting more enjoyable and more reflective of practices that respect nature.
To keep in step with residents’ growing concerns about the environment, Val-des-Monts works tirelessly to strengthen our community’s broad-based commitment to protect, restore and enhance the wealth of natural resources that grace our surroundings.
Consult the Val-des-Monts’ environmental policy.