The Côte-Nord region covers a vast area of 351,523 km2, or 21% of Québec’s total land mass. It is the second largest region, after the Nord-du-Québec region, and 99% of its land is under public ownership. Its population of 95,948 in 2006 is made up of three cultural communities: French-speaking, English-speaking, and Native.
The Côte-Nord region is one of the main electricity-producing regions, with numerous hydroelectric stations on the Bersimis, Outardes, Manicouagan, Sainte-Marguerite and Toulnustouc rivers. Hydro-Québec’s facilities on the North Shore account for 30% of Québec’s total installed capacity. In addition, there are a dozen smaller private hydroelectric stations scattered throughout the region. The construction of other hydroelectric projects, the rebuilding and improvement of current facilities, and the development of wind energy potential create important regional economic benefits.
The Côte-Nord region is known worldwide for its iron and ilmenite mines. Québec’s only operating iron mine is located in Fermont, and the only iron and titanium mine in Canada is situated close to Havre-Saint-Pierre. The region’s wealth of industrial minerals and base metals such as nickel and copper offers strong potential for mining companies. In 2006, 19,400 mining titles were active in the Côte-Nord region. Thanks to the region’s hydroelectric potential and port facilities, the two large aluminium plants in Baie-Comeau and Sept-Îles contribute over 30% to Québec’s total aluminum production.
Forests cover 73% of the region, or 198,936 km2 , representing the largest forested area in the province. Most of the region is covered by boreal forest, mainly composed of softwoods. The primary processing sector is limited to newsprint and lumber production. The forestry industry, mainly located in the west of the region, has an annual allowable cut of 3,952,900 m3 of wood.
The Côte-Nord region has abundant, diverse wildlife resources. Hunting for black bear, moose, and white-tailed deer (on Île d'Anticosti Island), and fishing for Atlantic salmon, brook trout and other species contribute to regional economic development. Wildlife-related activities generate over $80 million in annual economic benefits. A large number of structured wildlife zones cover 22,000 km2 of public land. The region has
- one wildlife reserve;
- 12 wildlife management areas (ZECs);
- 90 outfitting operations with or without exclusive rights, some of which are of international calibre.
Cottage development, recreation and tourism
Just over 6,400 cottage leases have been granted on public land in the Côte-Nord region, facilitating the pursuit of recreational activities. Thanks to its range of landscapes, the region attracts a growing number of ecotourism enthusiasts interested in outdoor activities and whale watching.
The Côte-Nord region has a wealth of natural resources, which justify its designation as a resource region. For the immediate future, decision-makers in the region have concentrated on consolidating primary sector activities, economic diversification and the harmonization of various land uses. A shared regional vision for the development of land and natural resources in the Côte-Nord region is an indispensable advantage for socioeconomic development. All these issues represent a major challenge for the region’s population, for Native communities and for the population of Québec as a whole.