EXCLUSIVE / The government Legault relaunch the Plan Nord of Jean Charest, and even wants to go at top speed.
In an interview to the Sun, the minister of natural Resources Jonatan Julien tells want to encourage mining development in Québec by reducing the time, bureaucratic delay the opening of the mines.
Before a mining company can begin to dig the ground in Quebec, you must obtain a total of 660 permits and governmental authorizations. An “obstacle course” which spans over 10 to 12 years, lamented the minister Julien. “It’s going not fast enough.”
Mr. Julien explained that his ministry has in hand a fifty mining projects, for potential investments of approximately $ 30 billion. In the next few months, he wants to make sure that the various ministries (natural Resources, Environment, Forests, Wildlife, and Parks, etc) work hand-in-hand to reduce the length of the administrative process, in a perspective of lean management. “We want to not be complacent, but is it possible to run the investment in a more efficient manner? Yes, I think so.”
Mr. Julien has not set a specific goal of reducing the time required for mining projects, but it is said to believe that if they are short of 20 %, for example, “it’s going to make a difference”.
The minister promised, however, not to be less demanding towards the mining companies. “We don’t want to reduce the robustness of a regulation.” These should respect the environment and obtain a social licence for their projects, he says.
Describing himself as someone “pragmatic,” which “promotes economic development”, Dr. Julien sees in the North of the province of the enormous possibilities of”paid employment”, to more than $ 100,000 per year. It salutes the legacy of the former liberal prime minister Jean Charest, who has referred to the idea of the Plan Nord for the first time in 2008.
“The launch of the Plan Nord has achieved for many canadians the wealth of our resources, and it is good like this,” said the minister.
Having seen officially the day in 2015, the Société du Plan Nord has developed “a detailed knowledge of the North”, according to Mr Julien. It acts today as a sort of “sealant” between the companies, the government and local communities.
Mr. Julien is the priorities of the Société du Plan Nord interesting, but it considers that it lacks “concrete action” north of the 49th parallel. “It is time to move from wishes to action.”
In addition to the mine development, the minister would like to see other projects of socio-economic development see the light of day. He sees, for example, a good eye at the fact that a container hydroponics heated by household waste do grow lettuce and cabbage kale to Kuujjiaq, Nunavik. These fresh produce are then sold to the local grocery store.
“People say to me that they do not want to occupy the territory, but live in the territory. It is all the difference,” said Mr Julien, who wanted a Northern development in collaboration with the local communities, including indigenous communities.
NOT IN A HURRY TO BUILD DAMS
Not once during the interview with The Sun, Mr. Julien has referred to the construction of new hydroelectric dams in the North.
During the election campaign last fall, its leader Francois Legault has argued, however, that his party would, in a first mandate, initiate studies to prepare for the construction of new hydropower plants. Once elected, Mr. Legault has raised the possibility of building dams in collaboration with the province of Ontario.
For the time being, no study has been launched at the ministry of natural Resources to prepare for the construction of any dams. For Mr. Julian, it is not a pressing need to initiate such studies, because Quebec will still have for at least 15 years of surplus electricity. “It is necessary to sell the surplus electricity first. It is the priority,” says the minister.
His government has also promised last fall to the Innu of Essipit, the first energy project that will be realized if Hydro-Québec will no longer be in a surplus situation will be the wind farm of Apuiat, dear to this community.