The Île de Laval, which lies north of Montréal, is simultaneously a city, a regional county municipality and a region. It was formerly known as Île Jésus, and is the second largest island in the Hochelaga archipelago after the Île de Montréal. Bounded on the south by Rivière des Prairies and on the north by Rivière des Mille Îles, Laval has a total area of 267 km2. The population is growing steadily, and is currently 390 000 persons.
The Rivière-des-Prairies power station, between the islands of Montréal and Laval, has been operating since the 1930s. To raise the profile of the hydroelectric industry in the region, the power station is open to visitors during the summer.
Although mineral potential is low, the extraction of stone, sand and gravel contributes to job creation in Laval.
With no productive public forests, the island relies mainly on the manufacture of wood products. Hundreds of workers are employed on the production of beams, roof trusses, furniture and related products. Many timber wholesalers and exporters saw and dry timber and generate employment in the sector.
Woodlots under private ownership cover an area of 62 km², or 23% of the forested area in the region. Unlike other urban regions, Laval has several privately-owned wooded areas within the inhabited zone, mainly on farmland and abandoned farmland and in municipal parks.
White-tailed deer, small game and migratory bird hunting are some of the popular wildlife-related activities in the region. Overall, these activities generate $48 million each year.
The Rivière-des-Mille-Îles park, recognized by the gouvernement du Québec as a wildlife refuge, safeguards ecological diversity in the Greater Montréal area. Wildlife observation opportunities are found in the park, and also in private woodlots and various urban parks.
Cottage development, recreation and tourism
Most recreational activities take place in the privately-owned forests and public parks. These green spaces are used for hiking, biking, nature observation, golf, cruises and water sports, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
The Rivière-des-Mille-Îles park and nature centre are also natural sites that attract residents and visitors.
The preservation and development of the forest environment are primary concerns for the regional authorities. Since green spaces contribute to the quality of life of the population, their conservation is a component in all the decisions made.