In the middle of the election campaign, the promise of the Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ) to pass a third link between Quebec and the South Shore through Île d’Orléans provoked strong reactions from the inhabitants of the island. If some people refuse to touch this “heritage gem”, others would like to be able to get to Lévis more quickly.
“If ever there was the third link that passed on the island, I am convinced that the population would rise,” says Lina Labbé, prefect of the MRC of Île-d’Orléans, which has approximately 7,000 inhabitants.
In her offices in Saint-François-de-l’Île-d’Orléans, a village located in the riding of Charlevoix–Côte-de-Beaupré, the light-eyed woman is categorical: the “large majority” of islanders do not want of this bridge, according to her.
At the end of August, Conservative leader Éric Duhaime presented his third link project. Currently, there is a bridge connecting the North Shore to the island. The PCQ’s idea is to extend this bridge with a highway that would cross the island to a second bridge that would connect it to the South Shore.
Without wanting to arrive “like wild animals”, the Conservatives claim that the idea is less expensive than the $6.5 billion tunnel proposed by the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ), which would directly link downtown Lévis to of Quebec.
“He should have consulted us, Mr. Duhaime,” laments Lina Labbé. Because there is no question of touching this “heritage jewel”, she says, between two phone calls.
Protecting the “green lung”
Along the road that circles the island, vineyards, restaurants and signs announcing apple picking follow one another.
In Saint-Pierre-de-l’Île-d’Orléans, near the existing bridge, on the north side, Catherine Monna was “sorry” to hear of the PCQ’s project. Sitting in the steps of the offices of her business, Cassis Monna & Filles, the 44-year-old woman underlines the lack of consensus in the region for a third link project, whatever its form.
What’s more, the island is covered with agricultural land, she says. “And why it’s so beautiful, why it’s going to remain a green lung with bits of forest and beautiful fields, it’s because we protect it. »
Without being “sold to one party or another”, Mme Monna emphasizes its interest in the green economy projects put forward by the CAQ. But all the political formations speak too little about climate change, she laments.
In the huge riding of Charlevoix–Côte-de-Beaupré, which stretches from Île d’Orléans to the mouth of the Saguenay Fjord, the CAQ party has a good chance of being elected again, according to the latest projections from the Qc125 site. The outgoing MP, Émilie Foster, however, is not seeking a new mandate.
According to Catherine Monna, the Parti Québécois (PQ) also remains relevant for the region. “Île d’Orléans is such a symbol of Quebec,” she says with a big smile. With Félix Leclerc, independence, there is a kind of left-wing traditionalism that has a root here. »
Met at La Midinette bakery in Saint-Jean-de-l’Île-d’Orléans, PQ candidate Lucien Rodrigue is proud of his party’s “enriched environment” program.
The PCQ’s third link is “an idea that will die on its own,” he says calmly. The PQ proposes instead to build a tunnel for a light rail that would connect downtown Quebec to that of Lévis. An “exciting” project, says Mr. Rodrigue, leaning on the terrace ramp.
Get groceries faster
A few steps away, in this village, two posters of the conservative candidate Odré Lacombe are enthroned in front of the white house of Valérie Poulin.
The mother of six children, aged five months to 12, regrets having voted for the chief caquiste, François Legault, in 2018. “With the pandemic, I think everyone has done their best, but I find that ‘He imprisoned us a bit,’ she says. The latter believes that Mr. Duhaime is “more human”. “When he talks, he’s more like the rest of us. »
For the islanders, having a bridge that would connect them to the South Shore would allow them to shop faster, says Valérie Poulin. To buy groceries in Beauport, about thirty kilometers from her home, she sometimes has to count several hours for the round trip because of the congestion that prevails during the weekend, explains the 33-year-old woman with hair Blue green.
The island divided into two camps?
“On the island, young people, we are for [le pont]and the recessed here, they don’t want change,” says Mme Poulin, who has lived in the region since 2005.
Conservative candidate Odré Lacombe is also of the opinion that the island is divided into “two camps” about the bridge: on the one hand, retirees who disagree because they do not have “an active life”, and on the other, young “active” families, who are in favor of the project.
According to the 40-year-old, even residents who are “ideologically” against the idea of a bridge connecting their island to the South Shore would use it on a daily basis. Then, the new road would pass where “where it is the least inhabited”, he argues.
“There is always the syndrome of saying that we want advantages, but zero impact, affirms Mr. Lacombe. It does not exist. We have to find the solution with the least possible impact, and that is what we believe we have presented. »
A project that “does not pass”
In Saint-Laurent-de-l’Île-d’Orléans, near the new bridge promised by the Conservatives, a giant inflatable strawberry announces the François Gosselin berry farm. For Louis Gosselin, the owner, the third link promised by the PCQ does not “prevent him from sleeping”. The project is “embryonic”, he says.
According to CAQ candidate Kariane Bourassa, the Conservatives’ idea of a bridge does not “pass” in the region. With the production of fruits and vegetables, Île d’Orléans is a veritable “pantry” for the Quebec region, underlines the 31-year-old young woman.
Eric Duhaime’s argument that a bridge would allow the transport of hazardous materials, unlike a tunnel, worries the population, she raises. “We are not immune to an accident or a spill. »
The CAQ candidate defends the record of the outgoing government. She points out that the preparatory work for the replacement of the existing but obsolete bridge, located in the north of the island, has begun. Along the coast at the exit of the bridge, the orange cones follow one another and the mechanical shovels are activated, was able to observe The duty.
For Liberal candidate Michel Bureau, it is urgent to have a bridge in good condition that connects Île d’Orléans to the North Shore because of the “serious consequences” for farmers. “It is not normal that freight carriers have to limit the weight of deliveries and thus lose significant revenue,” he wrote to the To have to.
For her part, the solidarity candidate Myriam Fortin wishes to improve the public transport offer for the inhabitants of Orleans. Reduce the number of cars “reinforce[ait] the sense of security” of tourists and citizens on the island, believes the 34-year-old young woman from Baie-Saint-Paul.
According to the trained lawyer, there is no need for a third link in the Quebec region. “And certainly not a third link that would pass through Île d’Orléans,” she concludes.