Association pour la Protection du Lac de l’Achigan: review of its implication.

APLA celebrated its 50th year of involvement and accomplishments in 2014. Founded in 1964, APLA has always aimed at protecting the environment of Lake l’Achigan and the quality of life of its residents. It has played a part as well concerning the regulation of town planning, the protection of the Lake quality, deforestation and shore regeneration, the management of sanitary installations and for control of motor boats and access to the lake.

In order to counter a chaotic development of secondary residences, APLA demanded a better control of development, which gave rise to the first planning regulation in 1976. When the first planning scheme was put forth by the MRC in 1980, APLA filed a paper and played its part at the public hearings to ensure that the zoning of green spaces would be preserved at Lake l’Achigan. The zoning change contemplated by the Township in 1985, which would have allowed residential development at camp Bruchési was strongly opposed by APLA, which in turn led to a defeat of the municipal council in the following election. Since then APLA continues to make sure that the zoning regulations are responsive to the residents’ aspirations.

The quality of Lake l’Achigan water has always been at the crux of APLA’s concerns. We made a first classification of sanitary installations in the early nineteen eighties. Lack of resources and personnel has meant that we must still work very hard to cause the Township to enact effective regulations to control sanitary installations, a prime source of pollution in the lake ; it now seems that we are about to succeed.

It was at APLA’s instance that the Township introduced a first set of regulations on shore deforestation. In parallel APLA had undertaken beginning in 1981 a shore regeneration program with a free distribution of nearly 4,000 plants annually. In spite of the cancellation of the plant subsidization program by the government, over 35,000 plants have been distributed over ten years. In the last few years APLA has reinstated a shore remediation program by subsidizing the distribution of shrubs and trees at reduced prices. We still have to continue persuading the riparian residents to give up maintaining stone walls that contribute to the warming of the lake water and to reforest the shores. It was also at APLA’s initiative that the Township introduced a by-law forbidding the cutting of vegetation within a five (5) meter deep strip from the edge of the shore.

In parallel to the preservation of the lake water quality, neighborhood security and quietness has been a major concern for APLA. In 1982 we vigorously opposed fishing on the ice by reason of the pollution risk and of the safety risks for the residents. In that year, we proposed a set of regulations for motor craft. A few years later a Court decision took away any municipal jurisdiction in that area. In 1990, we again suggested that the Township petition the federal government to include Lake l’Achigan on the list of water bodies where speed is restricted on the water and within 75 meters of shores. APLA also required the right to exercise control on the municipal landing and on the use of private lake access points in order to control the number of craft coming from outside.

Finally, over recent years the lake had been invaded by gulls coming from the Ste-Sophie garbage burial site. These birds are an important source of pollution because of their abundant droppings. A fundraising campaign in 2006 allowed the purchase of four (4) devices (“Imite=Rapaces”) to chase the gulls away. Relentless work on the part of some directors achieved impressive results.

In spite of all efforts deployed over many decades, the short episode in October, 2007 of blue algae (cyanobacteria) in Lake l’Achigan shows that we must remain on alert. The health of the Lake directly impacts on the quality of life of all residents and also on the preservation of the value of our investment. These are as many good reasons for all residents to get involved in the protection of the Lake and in support of the mission of APLA.