266, rue Viger
I have heard about the proposed kayaking along La Petite Nation. It sounds like an excellent idea. Donc comme le MRC Papineau dit:
Le secteur du tourisme est riche de possibilités.
However I have some concerns. First it should be "ecotourism". See Bonjour Quebec and the Ecotourist's code of conduct. And check out the Québec Declaration on Ecotourism from the World Ecotourism Summit, hosted in Québec City, Canada, by Tourisme Québec and the Canadian Tourism Commission, May 2002.
Next safety. On each of these three Saturdays in 2007- June 23 (Saint Jean Baptiste), June 30 (Canada Day) and on July 7 - there were very strong northwest winds on Lac-Simon. And the weather is increasingly becoming more extreme and unpredictable. I water ski daily and windsurf often so I tend to remember the wind and wave conditions of the lake.
Notable is this week's Globe and Mail, which reveals that kayaking indeed carries risk. In the article "Season-capping kayak adventure kills two as storms lash B.C. coast" Rod Mickleburgh writes,
But late Sunday morning, as the four double kayaks began their 2 km return journey from Anvil Island in the middle of Howe Sound, strong winds came up, the waves rose, and tragedy struck. Two kayakers, then two more, were pitched into the frigid waters of Howe Sound. Two were plucked too late from the ocean to survive their severe hypothermia.
Clearly, Safety First!
Thus some thoughts/recommendations are in order:
- Route (Lac-Simon): The journey from Singer beach/Sepaq to Ile Canard Blanc should proceed along the north/west shores of the lake. Thus if winds pick up, kayakers will be more protected. Moreover, kayakers will be able to head to shore more easily in an emergency.
- Weather updates (Singer Beach): Weather information should be available on the shores of Singer beach/Sepaq. Outfitters and/or independent kayakers may have to delay their departure accordingly. Moreover, will there be a launch protocol for outfitters at Singer beach?
- Rescue protocol: The Municipalitiés de Lac-Simon and Duhamel, along with any tour companies must have a coordinated rescue protocol for Lac-Simon. MRC Papineau, along with any tour companies, must have a coordinated rescue protocol for the entire Petite Nation.
- Low impact standards: For example MRC Papineau must develop low impact environmental standards for managing human waste and other activities along the entire route.
- Certification & qualifications: Will the MRC Papineau be responsible for ensuring appropriate levels of certification and standards for kayaking businesses operating in La Petite Nation? Will industry standards be adopted, and if none exist, will MRC Papineau work with industry to develop standards? What about qualifications for guides (current certification of CPR, Operator’s Certificate (Maritime) for VHF radio, log)?
- Quantitative limits: What will be the limits on the number of people/day allowed on the route? What will be the start and finish dates during the season (rescue implications)?
Thanking you in advance.
CC: Lyse Leduc, President, Association des Propriétaires du Lac Simon