The banks of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine have receded nearly 8.5 meters since 2005 due to the erosion that is affecting them, or an average of about half a meter a year, according to data compiled by researchers at the University of Quebec in Rimouski (UQAR).
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This situation is caused in particular by the increasing number and intensity of storms due to climate change.
According to data this spring from the UQAR Coastal Zone Dynamics and Integrated Management Laboratory, obtained by the QMI Agency, the coast loss between 2020 and 2021 was 34 cm.
Hélène Fauteux / QMI AGENCY
But since 2005, the year researchers began monitoring the situation on the archipelago, the average annual decline is 53 cm, a result based on 12,074 measurements collected from markers scattered across the area.
The situation worries the authorities
“Of course it varies from year to year, but it gives an overall decrease of almost 8.5 million in 16 years,” comments Jean Hubert, Director of Engineering, ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and Buildings of the Municipality of the Islands. We lose two feet a year! It is a sign that unless we act in the sensitive sectors we will continue to lose ground.
Mr. Hubert also assumes that some infrastructure measures will be unavoidable.
“We will not be able to raise the necessary funds to protect the islands around,” he said. There will be difficult decisions.”
Hélène Fauteux / QMI AGENCY
Despite everything, he admits that the Madelinots are not yet faced with these difficult decisions.
“But of course with what the IPCC announces [Groupe d’experts intergouvernemental sur l’évolution du climat] and the UN, climate change is getting worse and worse, emphasizes Mr. Hubert. So the [recul de] 0.5 m per year, in 10 years it can only be 0.7 m. Maybe three feet instead of two feet because the storms are more intense, more frequent. They are predicting an incredible hurricane season this year, a record season. So we are faced with these realizations and have to react.
In addition, the Municipality of the Islands and the Québec Ministry of Public Safety (MSP) recently signed a funding agreement for a maximum of US$5 million for shoreline protection works in the Gros Cap sector of the central island of the archipelago.
The sector to be protected extends over 900 meters along a central collecting road.
“We are in the phase of evaluating how we can intervene and protect the sector in the long term in order not to have to move,” says Jean Hubert. It’s not easy to transport it inland.”
For his part, Mayor Jonathan Lapierre is pleased that this Gros Cap road protection project is the fourth approved by the Quebec government on its 2017 list of six priorities to combat coastal erosion. .
“We are exactly where we wanted to be. […], he says. We have presented an overall plan, an overall vision with preliminary budgets, and the projects follow one after the other. The help and support we are receiving from Quebec is extremely positive!”
An announcement of “significant” work to mitigate risks related to erosion and coastal subsidence on the islands is also due to be made on Monday morning.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Public Security Geneviève Guilbault will make the announcement in the presence of Mayor Lapierre.
8.5 meters is approximately:
- 5 refrigerators on top of each other
- 5 wheelbarrows lined up
- more than 5 bikes throughout
- 4 three-seater sofas next to each other
- 56 dictionaries flat next to each other
- more than 11 washing machines arranged side by side