Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Storm Hits Islands

The Magdalen Islands got banged up pretty severely by Mother Nature this holiday season.... Another storm hit the east coast yesterday with winds attaining 112 km or 60 mph. Extreme high tides were pushed in the high waves that flooded across many of the coastal roads, particularly between Red Cape and House Harbour (the stretch or road on either sides of the iron bridge).

Transport Quebec closed the road because it was impassable by car although many trucks and buses were allowed by.

Big Cape was also hit hard as well as Amherst's 'La Grave'.

La Grave by Sylvain Lapierre

La Cuesta by Diane Hebert

This storm has left many holiday travelers stranded in airports and ferry terminals or motel rooms. Here on the islands, it is unlikely to be cleared up for Christmas because more storm winds are due to hit again tomorrow, Thursday the 23rd of December, with up to 70 km winds plus gusts and rain.

Luckily there has been relatively few power outages in this last storm.
Convoy of school buses taking hospital workers across
the breach. Cars could not pass. - Magdalen Islands Portal

Click on photo caption to go to webpage of photo authors.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Government of Canada Invests in Musée de la Mer in Îles-de-la-Madeleine

On behalf of the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, Bernard Généreux, Member of Parliament (Montmagny-L'Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup), today announced funding for the Musée de la Mer, located on the island of Havre-Aubert.

"Our Government recognizes that the arts and culture sector plays a major role in our economy," said Minister Moore. "That is why we invest in projects that not only create more welcoming venues that help preserve and present our heritage, but invigorate Canada's economy as well."

"We are very pleased to support this important museum in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine," said Mr. Généreux. "Investing in the Musée de la Mer means creating an environment that is conducive to conservation and to sharing the heritage and history of the islands' inhabitants."

"We are extremely pleased by the Government of Canada's financial involvement in the Musée de la Mer renovation and expansion project," said Louis Bernier, Chair of the Board of the museum. "This funding will enable our organization to fulfill its mission under improved conditions and enhance the museum, cultural, and tourism activities offered in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine to an even broader audience."

The Musée de la Mer, founded in 1969, is a non-profit organization with a mission to conserve and promote a variety of items associated with the heritage and history of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine. The museum's renovation and expansion project will make it possible to increase the visitor capacity in exhibition rooms, develop storage spaces for the collections, and improve their conservation standards. The work carried will also ensure that the current building is brought up to standards for the comfort and safety of employees and visitors. 

The Government of Canada has provided funding of $273,000 through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage. This program seeks to improve physical conditions for artistic creativity and arts presentation or exhibition. It is also designed to increase access for Canadians to performing, visual, and media arts, and to museum collections and heritage displays. As part of Canada's Economic Action Plan 2009, an additional $60 million over two years was announced to stimulate the economy by investing in cultural infrastructure through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Government Grant to Improve Islands Telecommunication System

Joel Arseneau, Diane Arsenault, Germain Chevarie,
Francine Cyr, and Denis Michaud
The deputy of the Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Mr. Germain Chevarie, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy and Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr. Laurent Lessard and the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports, Mrs. Line Beauchamp, announced a grant for the financial assistance from the Quebec government for $2,059,737.00 to support the implementation of a broadband telecommunication network to the Magdalen Islands.

The proposed deployment of a broadband telecommunication network bandwidth will link the buildings of the Islands School Board, Commission Scolaire des Iles, the Municipality of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine and the two schools in the Eastern Shores School Board. Network integrated electronic communications Iles-de-la-Madeleine (RICEIM) will act as the representative agency for the project deployment of this network.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy will contribute the amount of $1,381,742.00 in Quebec’s outreached Villages.

"With financial aid, the Magdalen Islands can count on the many resources offered by information and communication technology. This program will therefore provide citizens with a wide variety of resources, products and services essential to the local and regional development ", said Minister Laurent Lessard.

For its part, the Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports grant under that program, a sum of $677,995, which will be paid at two educational institutions: the Commission Scolaire des Îles ($601,064.00 ) and the Eastern Shores School Board ($76,931.00). 

"The schools will benefit from being connected and their connection will promote the academic success of students who will gain more skills," said Minister Line Beauchamp.

"This project serves the desire of Islanders to join in order to move forward on the technological, economic and cultural development well. This infrastructure provides a valuable foundation for regional development. Thus contributing to the installation of a telecommunications infrastructure that meets the needs of the community, the Quebec government shows its commitment to effectively support this development," said MP Germain Chevarie.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ottawa Increases Ferry Funding for the East Coast

Last Tuesday night, November 30, 2010, the Federal government came to the decision to increase the amount of funding they would normally give to the companies running the three ferry services of the Maritime Provinces and Quebec. These services are vital commuting and communication links connecting the Islands to the Maritime Provinces.

Over the next three and a half to four years the ferry systems for the Gulf of Saint Lawrence will receive a boost to their financial burdens. The Federal government has decided to increase the funding for the services another $51 million over the next three years, until the end of March 2014 for the Picto/PEI run and the PEI/Magdalen Islands (Iles de la Madeleine) run until March 30, 2015. This will be in addition to the $32 million already earmarked in the 2010 federal budget.

The funding will be broke down in several ways, including the use of $6 million to keep the Madeleine running between Souris, PEI and Grindstone (Cap-aux-Meules) Magdalen Islands, 12 months a year by using the icebreaking services of the coast guard, to use the service February and March, two months when the ferry services is normally shut down for the winter. This will be the third winter season the Madeleine has been in service all year round.

These ferry services employ hundreds of personal and generate many millions of dollars in revenue. These services contribute significantly to the economic sustainability of our region by promoting employment and business opportunities for the people of the region. Forty-five million dollars will be used operating costs and maintain the ships in service.

"The Government of Canada understands the importance of these ferry services to the local communities and economy," said the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. "In addition to providing safe and effective transportation to remote communities, the investments announced today will go a long way in supporting the regional economy and transportation network in Eastern Canada."

In support of these three ferry services, Transport Canada owns four vessels and six ferry facilities that are leased to the private operators for a nominal amount. They are: Saint John, N.B. - Digby, N.S., Ferry Service; Wood Islands, P.E.I. - Caribou, N.S., Ferry Service; and Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Que. - Souris, P.E.I., Ferry Service. The existing agreements for these ferry services were set to expire on March 31, 2011. Transport Canada is committed to working with the provinces and local communities on a long-term approach to these ferry services.

les-de-la-Madeleine, Que. - Souris, P.E.I., Ferry Service

The federal government has been providing support for the ferry service between Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Souris since 1971. This service, which is operated by CTMA Traversier Ltée, is normally provided for 10 months of the year (April to January), closing for two months (February and March), given the challenges of operating TC's vessel in heavy ice conditions. In 2008-09 and 2009-10, TC supported two short-term extensions of the ferry service in February and March using the operator's own ice class vessel. Since 2005-06, TC has provided nearly $40 million to the private operator (including $3.8 million for an extended winter service in 2008-09 and 2009-10).

The extended winter ferry service is expected to generate nearly $12 million in socioeconomic benefits* for the community and local businesses, mostly due to reduced transportation and business costs, and increased employment.