Québec invests $36M for the development of Parc national d'Opémican

TÉMISCAMING, QC, Feb. 22, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - The Minister responsible for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Region, Minister for Mines and Minister responsible for the Nord-du Québec region, Luc Blanchette, accompanied by the CEO of the Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (Sépaq), John MacKay, and the Director of Parc national d'Opémican, Dany Gareau, has announced investments of $36M for the development of Parc national d'Opémican, on behalf of the Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, Laurent Lessard.

"I am proud to announce this major investment on the part of the government of Québec. With Parc national d'Opémican added to Parc national d'Aiguebelle, the region now has two national parks that will create a nice synergy for the region's tourism development. Moreover, we anticipate that some 25 direct jobs will be created at the parks themselves. This is an interesting opportunity for young people in the region. Looking at a 10-year perspective, when Parc national d'Opémican has reached its full potential, we estimate annual economic benefits for the region in the amount of $7.5M. The development of Parc national d'Opémican is a lever of economic diversification and enhancement for the development of the tourism industry of the entire region", explained Minister Blanchette.

Activities will be concentrated around three thematic hubs. In addition to the main hub, two secondary hubs will be part of the park's basic development. At the heart of the national park, Pointe-Opémican discovery hub will preserve and showcase the Opémican historic site. The de la Rivière et du Lac-Kipawa adventure hub will be dedicated to canoeing and kayaking, while the Lac-Marsac nature hub will become a fishing and canoe-camping location. For purposes of the project, $10M will be dedicated to the restoration of existing heritage buildings, thus contributing to the preservation and showcasing of the region's cultural heritage. The remaining investments, i.e. $26M, will be used for the development and conservation of Parc national d'Opémican's unique natural heritage.

"The introduction of quality infrastructure at Parc national d'Opémican will result in sectors of this protected territory being more accessible for the entire population of the region and, in conjunction with the efforts of regional stakeholders, will help build an attractive tourist destination. Park visitor volume is predicted to be around 25,000 visiting days, from the very first years of operations," says John MacKay, CEO of Sépaq.

For his part, the director of Parc national d'Opémican, Dany Gareau, pointed out that development of the park was already well underway. "During the last year, we mapped out a development concept. The characterization is about to be completed as a prelude to initiating decontamination of the Pointe-Opémican discovery hub. We'll soon begin the final phase of engineering the access road, and starting this winter, we'll build the bridge, for which the tendering process is already underway. Moreover, as of spring, we'll hire several people to help with park start-up operations," he added.

Parc national d'Opémican
The name Opémican comes from the Algonquin word opemikon, which means "along the path followed by Native Americans." Created in December 2013 to protect a representative sample of the natural region of the Southern Laurentians, more specifically the Laurentian Plateau, this 23rd national park operated by Sépaq extends over an area of 252.5 km2. It is bordered by two large bodies of water, Lac Témiscamingue and Lac Kipawa, and protects part of the banks of Lac Kipawa, Rivière Kipawa, a number of lakes, rivers and wetlands, old pine forests, and various plant and animal species, including the peregrine falcon, a vulnerable species that nests within the territory.


SOURCE Société des établissements de plein air du Québec

For further information: Sources : Mathieu Gaudreault, Press Attaché, Office of the Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, Tel.: 418-571-5038; For information: Dany Gareau, Director, Parc national d'Opémican, Sépaq, Tel.: 819-629-3201, Email: gareau.dany@sepaq.com


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