Abitibi-Témiscamingue residents gather to protest Gazoduq pipeline project

Citizens of Rouyn-Noranda, Que., and nearby towns in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region gathered Saturday to send a message to the people behind a proposed pipeline that would cross through their territory.

With chants of "Gazoduq, ça passe pas!" their message was loud and clear: they don't want this project to see the light of day. 

The $9 billion pipeline and refinery project would carry natural gas from Alberta to a new facility yet to be built in the Saguenay region. 

Before arriving there, however, 784 kilometres of pipeline must be laid to bring the gas from Ontario across the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.

Gazoduq has held public consultations in the region, but many citizens still have major concerns about the impact of construction on the environment.

After a series of speeches on the shores of Lac Osisko, the protesters, who are concerned about the carbon emissions that would result from the pipeline's construction, boarded two yellow school buses.

Their destination?

Deep in the forest, just two kilometres away from where the proposed pipeline would cross from Raymore, Ont., into Quebec.

Julia Caron/CBC

Once they arrived, the group unfurled a giant banner, sang songs and held a minute of silence.

They even recycled signs from previous — and some successful — battles opposing oil and gas projects in different regions of the province.

François Lavigne travelled from Lavaltrie in the Lanaudière region to add his opposition.

"There is absolutely nothing good for Quebec, nothing good for Canada, nothing good at all for the planet; it's simply good for the people who are going to make money, and not good for the population in general," Lavigne said. 

Québec solidaire MNA for Abitibi-Témiscamingue Emilise Lessard-Therrien was also at the protest. She said it's especially important to mobilize against Gazoduc in the region, since it's where the pipeline would be laid. 

Julia Caron/CBC

"We have a role to play, because we are the open door in Quebec for the Gazoduc," Lessard-Therrien said. "If it doesn't pass in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, it doesn't pass at all."

Thursday, Gazoduq announced via press release the estimated amount of economic windfall for the broader region of Abitibi. 

The company is promising $14 million to communities where its underground natural gas pipeline is expected to pass.

Of this sum, Rouyn-Noranda would receive $3.5 million.

Gazoduq is planning to finishing their environmental assessment before 2020, starting construction the following year if approved.