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  • Writer's pictureAPLA

Updated regulations concerning restrictions on the use of buildings - 2021 federal consultation

Madam, Sir,

as part of the consultation on updating the Building Use Restrictions Regulation (2021 submission), here are the comments from the Association for the Protection of Lake Achigan (APLA).

APLA is an association dedicated to protecting the environment of Lake Achigan and has existed since 1964. Lake Achigan is located in the municipality of Saint-Hippolyte, in the province of Quebec.

The APLA noted the proliferation of aquatic plants during the appearance of boats with strong wakes in the early 2000s.  Residents of Lake Achigan also complained of the effect of waves on the erosion of the shore and damage to docks. Studies carried out on the impact of boats with strong wakes established that a minimum distance of 300 meters from the shore was required to allow wave dispersion and that a minimum depth of 5 meters was also required to avoid mixing of waves. sediments at the bottom of the lake. In concert with the municipality of St-Hippolyte, the APLA carried out a public consultation with users of Lake Achigan concerning the adoption of restricted areas for surfing and wake wake practice.  Two areas meeting the criteria of 300 meters from the shore and more than 5 meters deep were marked out in 2018. At the end of the nautical season, meetings with control groups (focus groups) were carried out, both for groups practicing surfing and for groups not practicing surfing.  82% of participants supported the creation of restricted areas for wake surfing and wake boarding.  Although the creation of these zones is not based on any legal constraint, they are an integral part of the lake's code of ethics and users of Lac de l'Achigan have demonstrated until now a very strong commitment to respecting these zones. The creation of these zones also made it possible to improve the safety of lake users. Lake users who do not surf generally avoid traveling in restricted wake surfing areas. We do not believe that specific times for surfing are a solution to protecting the lakes. The creation of specific zones respecting best practices is the best solution to protect the lakes and this solution is accepted by all stakeholders.

Studies concerning the impact of boats with a strong wake, however, date back several years and were carried out when the boats were 21 feet long (industry measurements are generally in feet).  Since then, the new boats have become longer, up to 24 and 25 feet, and heavier with the addition of larger capacity ballast tanks, resulting in even bigger waves.

There is a need to redo studies on the impact of new boats on bank erosion and sediment mixing.  Many lakes are experiencing accelerated aging and it is important to act before the damage is irreversible.  We believe that responsibility for these studies should lie with governments and not with voluntary associations which have neither the expertise nor the financial resources to carry out such studies. The goal is not to prohibit or restrict the practice of wake surfing to certain time slots, but to establish appropriate places for the practice of this sport in order to avoid damage to the environment and to preserve the great wealth that lakes represent in Canada.

Yvan Gingras

President of the APLA.

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