Major residential development project at Lac Caribou in Saint-Joseph-de-Coleraine

Major residential development project at Lac Caribou in Saint-Joseph-de-Coleraine
Major residential development project at Lac Caribou in Saint-Joseph-de-Coleraine

A major residential development project at Caribou Lake located in the territory of Saint-Joseph-de-Coleraine is currently being developed. It aims to make 24 lots accessible along the waterfront. The economic benefits are estimated at $30 million.

The lots are expected to range in size from 44,000 to 126,000 square feet. The top sale price could be more than $500,000.

This project is headed by businessman André Bernard of Thetford Mines. It will be carried out in association with the Société Asbestos, which owns the immense land, and its president Guy Bérard.

“We have to go back to 2011. I was eating at a restaurant with a friend and he asked Mr. Bérard, whom I didn’t know, to join us. We introduced ourselves and he told me that Société Asbestos owned a lot of land in the region. He gave me his business card because I wanted to eventually acquire a woodlot. Time passed and in 2020, when I announced my departure from CVTech-AAB where I was the owner, I decided to call him. We met and I targeted Lac Caribou because I saw development potential. We came to an agreement after many discussions. I can tell you that it wasn’t easy to convince him,” Mr. Bernard told Courrier Frontenac.

The president of the Asbestos Corporation said he was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the project. “A lot of people were interested in these lots and we always said no. Finally, when André arrived and talked to us about it, we said to ourselves that it would be a great local project that could be carried out by local people who have an interest in keeping it in impeccable condition. These are not developers who are there to maximize profit, but rather the entire site and the value of the properties around the lake. The value of each property is estimated at an average of one million dollars.”

For both men, environmental protection is paramount. “We had soil characterization work done with biologists to prevent runoff and protect wetlands. The access road will be 85 metres from the shore, rather than 75 metres. In addition, the riparian strip will be 15 metres, whereas the regulations provide for 10 metres. We will do everything to mitigate the negative effects so that Caribou Lake remains as pure and clean as possible,” Mr. Bernard stressed.

For his part, Guy Bérard says he understands the concerns of citizens and elected officials regarding the environmental aspect, but he wants to be reassuring. “Citizens should be much more concerned about their outdated septic systems that harm the entire lake, rather than those of their future neighbours because we will demand the best systems that exist in the world. We will do more than what the Ministry of the Environment asks of us. We will not only protect sensitive areas, but we will make sure not to harm anyone.”

However, some constraints are to be expected, such as cutting down trees. The owners of each lot will have to ensure that they plant a quantity to be determined to compensate for those that will have to be cut down. “Sectors will also be considered non-buildable to protect the environment, serenity and beauty of the place,” said Mr. Bérard.

According to André Bernard, this project will be very beneficial for the municipality of Saint-Joseph-de-Coleraine. “I think there are many who would like to have a project of this magnitude. In my opinion, we have to go back about forty years, to the time when the mines were in operation, to find a project of this importance in Coleraine.”

The developer would like construction work on the 2.4-kilometre access road to begin this fall.

According to Mr. Bérard, the studies carried out by the Municipality of Saint-Joseph-de-Coleraine and those commissioned by the developer are consistent and should not be an obstacle to the completion of the project.

CONCERNS RAISED

For the president of the Caribou Lake Association, Francis Bédard, the health of the lake is the main concern. “The project that was presented to us is on the mountainside. We have been trying to protect the lake for years. A development like this can lead to sediment in the water. There are mining residues nearby. There is not only the issue of septic systems. We prefer to wait before deciding for or against the project. We are also waiting for the results of the studies surrounding the impacts that have been carried out.”

It should be noted that between 75 and 100 properties are already established around Caribou Lake. “For current residents, if they lose the exceptional view they have and the tranquility, it is certain that they are more or less in favor of the project. On the other hand, the main thing is the health of the body of water.”

CITIZENS WILL BE INFORMED

For his part, the mayor of Saint-Joseph-de-Coleraine, Gaston Nadeau, indicated that the Municipality wishes to meet with the members of the board of directors of the Caribou Lake Association and then the population around the second week of July in order to inform them.

“We hired the Pluritec firm, which is neutral, in order to better inform us and help us make a final decision regarding this project. We do not want to do this lightly. Among other things, we want to ensure the compliance of the septic installations and protect the lake from erosion.”

  • Caribou Lake (Photo Courrier Frontenac – Jean-Hugo Savard)

  • Caribou Lake (Photo Courrier Frontenac – Jean-Hugo Savard)

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