The Laurentides region is located north of Montréal. Its natural landscape of forests and lakes lies close to major urban centres, and this region of 22,525 km2 is often called Montréal’s playground. The population of 520,000 is growing quickly.
Three quarters of the region’s forests are under public ownership, and are used by the forestry industry, outdoor enthusiasts, cottage owners, hunters and fishers. The varied demands made on the forest environment make an important contribution to the regional economy, but require constant supervision to harmonize land uses.
The Laurentides region has a small number of hydroelectric power stations, including Carillon on the Ottawa River, Chute-Bell, and five smaller hydroelectric stations.
In the Laurentians, mining mainly centres on the extraction of industrial minerals such as graphite, and industrial stone such as quartzite and sandstone. Other quarries produce architectural stone, crushed stone, and sand and gravel for the construction market.
Public forests account for 74% of the total forested area. The forest stands contain a wide variety of species; hardwoods predominate in the south, while softwoods make up the entire forest further north. The forestry industry includes sawmills and plants making doors and windows, kitchen cabinets, timber pallets, veneer and particle board.
In addition to its two wildlife reserves, 23 outfitting operations with exclusive rights and six wildlife management areas (ZECs), the region shares the magnificent Mont-Tremblant park with the Lanaudière region. Each year, hunting, fishing and outdoor activities generate around $191 million.
Cottage development, recreation and tourism
Recreation and tourism potential in the Laurentians is particularly diversified. Throughout the year, the region is visited by large numbers of hunters, fishers, skiers, snowmobilers, campers, nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The region’s key natural attractions are the Mont-Tremblant recreational park, the number one resort in eastern North America, Wilson Falls, and the linear park along the old rail route of Le p’tit train du Nord, with 200 km of cycle trails. The Laurentides region is a key destination for international tourists, and the rapid growth of the Mont-Tremblant ski station has accentuated its international vocation.
Given that the Laurentides region is already Québec’s main resort destination, the main challenges are to maintain access to public land, support a diversification of activities, and promote economic development. There are other challenges in the forestry sector, where the forest management sector must be modernized in response to public concerns. The regional priorities involve sustainable development integrated resource management, and participation by all users of public land.