4. Issues and Strategic Directions
4.2 Strategic Directions
4.2.4 Conserving natural resources
Limited space at the Saint-Ours Canal has meant that almost all the available area is now occupied. The integrity of the natural environment has been somewhat altered as the result of successive works on the canal, filling, construction, and changes to the terrain for recreational and operational purposes. The natural attributes of the canal now provide a peaceful green environment, much appreciated by visitors and offering a variety of activities. Two particularly worthwhile natural features are the stand of red pine on Darvard Island and the river itself.
Darvard Island harbours a mature stand of red pine whose undergrowth of shrubs and herbaceous greenery is in the process of regeneration. The network of pathways built some years ago has helped contain foot traffic, but in spite of these restoration efforts, the stand is probably moving on to the phase of ageing and decay.
The canal works and the erosion of the banks resulted in the building of retaining walls and the dumping of rocks that have given the banks an artificial look. More rock filling is planned along the west bank walls to make fishing safer. Efforts to restore these rock shores to a more natural state will be confronted with serious constraints: the dramatic change in water level in the spring; ice; the strength of the current; etc.
The Richelieu River is one of the last habitats of the copper redhorse, a designated threatened species. Until recently, the dam represented a major obstacle to the movement of fish in the river. The building of a fish ladder in 2001 will henceforth ensure free movement and serve, as well, to maintain these populations. The fish ladder also constitutes an additional attraction and has potential for the interpretation of fish species on the Richelieu River.
- Preserve the peaceful countryside personality of the site, especially on Darvard Island.
- Preserve the red pine stand and ensure its sustainability as an area of natural beauty.
- Limit the development of intensive activity on Darvard Island, except on the banks of the lock, and restrict island traffic to pedestrians and maintenance vehicles.
- Begin the restoration of the rock shores and embankments to their natural state, while maintaining visual landscapes opening onto the river and the canal from the main pathways and activity areas.
- Protect fish species in the Richelieu River and foster awareness among visitors of the biodiversity of its ecosystem by providing information on both the rich variety and the specific characteristics of species as well as the reasons for the fish ladder and how it works.