The Plan Nord, one of the largest projects in Québec’s history, was launched on May 9. The ambitious project focuses on sustainable development. It stems from studies by the Québec government, regional elected officials and Aboriginal representatives in collaboration with representatives from the economic, social and environmental sectors. The Plan Nord’s representative and participatory approach makes it a unique model that strikes a balance between social and economic development as well as environmental protection in partnership with the First Nations.
“The Plan Nord will be carried out over 25 years and involve investments during that time totalling more than $80 billion. It will lead to the creation or consolidation of 20,000 jobs per year, on average, in addition to generating $14 billion in revenue for the government and Québec society. The Plan Nord will improve the living conditions of northern populations through the economic benefits and social development resulting from it. Its positive impacts will extend throughout Québec owing to the needs it will create for labour, knowledge and expertise. The Plan Nord will be for the coming decades what the Manicouagan and James Bay developments were in the 60s and 70s,” said Mr. Charest.
An exceptional territory
The geographic area targeted by the Plan Nord encompasses the entirety of Québec’s territory north of the 49th parallel. It covers nearly 1.2 million square kilometres, which is 72% of Québec–an area twice the size of France or Texas. It has one of the world’s largest fresh water reserves, comprised of nearly 500,000 lakes and thousands of rivers. The territory accounts for more than three-quarters of Québec’s installed hydroelectric power generation capacity and its water, wind and photovoltaic (solar energy) power potential is equally extensive. The vast territory includes more than 200,000 square kilometres of commercial forests, representing over 53% Québec’s working forests. It contains exceptional wildlife resources and provides one of the world’s last opportunities for conserving vast natural land areas that are still in tact. Northern Québec possesses an abundance of mineral ores of all types, including lithium, vanadium and rare earth metals, which are growing in international demand due to their increasing use in the energy, transportation and high-tech sectors.
Protecting the northern environment and ecosystems will be central to decision-making at all stages of project planning and execution under the Plan Nord. To achieve this, the Québec government undertakes to ensure that projects are carried out in a spirit of respect for the principles of sustainable development and are subject to rigorous environmental analyses. Moreover, the government is making two additional commitments to ensure environmental protection in the territory that the Plan Nord covers: