The province will hold environmental hearings on the impact of the proposed gas pipeline from Lachenaie to East Hereford June 3 and 4 in Coaticook and Magog respectively.
The Bureau d'audiences publiques sur 1'environnement (BAPE) released an impact study last week on the extension of the Trans Qu6bec & Maritime (TQM) pipeline.
Copies are available until June 23 at the municipal libraries in Magog and Coaticook.
The $268 million project will cut a 23-metre wide swath along 213 kilometres of mostly forested and farming territory. According to a communique issued by the Ministry of the Environment, the promoters have taken measures to make as little impact as possible on areas susceptible to erosion and contamination, or that are home to rare species of wildlife and vegetation.
But Ste-Catherine-de Hatley resident Bruce Miller still isn't buying TQM's argument that all environmental aspects have been considered.
"The proposed corridor would take the pipeline right through the middle of the most picturesque area in the entire Eastern Townships, the area from Sherbrooke down to the Vermont border," he wrote in a letter to TQM last month. "Specifically, the proposed pipeline route cuts right across two ridges (Brown's Hill and Bunker Hill) just a stone's throw from the southern tip of Lake Massawippi."
Miller calls the proposed route "hastily chosen and ill-conceived." He raises concerns that the pipeline will pass not only through maple groves but also too close to a gravel quarry where blasting "regularly shakes the ground."
Instead, Miller proposes that the pipeline be linked to the already existent Sherbrooke network and then travel to the New Hampshire border from there.
"The cost of the slightly longer route would be at least partially offset by lower construction costs through a more conducive terrain," he wrote.
TQM representative Jean Simard said the option is not under consideration. "The gas has to be brought through to Coaticook," he said.
As for environmental and agricultural impact, Simard said the pipeline will not go anywhere without the approval of the BAPE, the farmers' union (UPA), and the Commission de protection du territoire agricole A Quibec (CPTAQ). In the end, the National Energy Board will not approve the project unless it meets all the necessary criteria.
"Our aim is to answer people's concerns. But some people are solely against the project no matter what. They don't want it, period," he said.
Small changes will be made to the route - if the CPTAQ recommends going through a maple grove rather than through a farmer's field, for instance, TQM will comply - but there will be no major alterations to the proposed route, said Simard.
In Coaticook on Jun 3, starting at 7 p.m., the BAPE hearing will take place at the Pavillon des arts et de la culture, 116 rue Wellington. On June 4, the hearing will take place at the Magog City Hall council chamber at 7 p.m.
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