Elected officials of municipalities around Mont Rigaud calling for mining ban

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Elected officials from the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Regional County Municipality are calling on the Legault government to protect the area from any future mining activity. They say any such project puts much of the area's drinking water at risk. Global's Phil Carpenter reports.

Elected officials in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Regional County Municipality are once again calling on the government to protect Mont-Rigaud from mining.

“There is a real risk that some mining companies could get (mining) claims on Mont-Rigaud,” said Patrick Bousez, prefect for the region and mayor of Rivière-Beaudette.

During a press conference Tuesday he and other elected officials argued that mining on the mountain could contaminate groundwater, which flows down to the surrounding municipalities that use it for drinking, including Saint-Lazare.

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“There’s 18 out of 23 municipalities that use underground water for drinking,” said that city’s mayor, Geneviève Lachance. “That comes to about 100,000 people in the region.”

In Saint-Lazare, concerns for drinking water are already top of mind, so much so that the city has erected billboards reminding people to save water.

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“So, we’re doing our part to protect water,” said Lachance, “which is why we’re also asking the government to do their part to protect our water.”

According to the mayors, the province’s energy and natural resources ministry has so far refused to grant the mining exemption.

“The minister can write a decree and could solve that within a couple of weeks,” insisted Bousez. “It’s as fast as that.”

He cautioned that any water contaminated by mining is water that would be used by the Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital being built by the province.

Bousez said after more than two years of asking, the natural resources ministry finally referred the mayors to the environment ministry.

Neither ministry got back to Global News with a response before deadline.

The mayors said if they don’t get the protection they’re seeking from the government, they will explore other options.

“At the end of the day we will have to take some other action and we will see what we have to do,” warned Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon.

Still, they’re hoping they can work with the provincial government to get the exemption.

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