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Simon Shields,
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Wild Animal Law of Canada

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Park-Related Acts (Quebec)

(current to 01 November 2016)
Note Re Application of the Parks Act ('PA') and the Natural Heritage Conservation Act ('NHCA')

These are both essentially park statutes, and as such create specific law that applies within the geographical boundaries of the areas designated as park land (or in the case of the NHCA, 'reserves'). The government website applicable to parks and reserves is the Parcs Quebec website.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • PROTECTION
  • IMPORT/EXPORT/RELOCATION
  • HABITAT
  • HUNTING, TRAPPING AND FISHING
  • CIVIL LIABILITY
The full current text of these statutes and their regulations may be viewed at the Quebec statute website.

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Table of Contents
1. Parks
(a) Overview
(b) Protective Provisions
(c) Enforcement
2. Natural Heritage Reserves
(a) Overview
(b) Aquatic Reserves
(c) Biodiversity Reserves
(d) Ecological Reserves
(e) Nature Reserves
(f) Man-made Landscapes
(g) Enforcement
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1. Parks

(a) Overview

Quebec parks, unsurprisingly, are governed by the Parks Act ('PA'). While they are referred to in both the legislation and at large as 'national parks' they are in fact provincial parks.

The primary purposes of such parks are "to ensure the conservation and permanent protection of areas representative of the natural regions of Québec and of natural sites with outstanding features, in particular because of their biological diversity, while providing the public with access to those areas or sites for educational or cross-country recreation purposes" [PA 1(b)].

Such parks may be created by designation of the Minister (of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks) [PA 2].

(b) Protective Provisions

The following are provisions in the Parks Act [and the Parks Regulation ('P Regs')] that have relevance to protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat:
  • entry, staying, travelling or engaging in most activities in a park by private citizens require prior authorization (eg. permits) (some exceptions are set out in the P Regs) [PA 6.1, P Regs 5-9];

  • hunting or trapping of every kind is prohibited in a park [PA 7(a)], as is "the possession of arms or hunting or trapping implements"[P Regs 23];

  • fishing is allowed in parks with appropriate Parks Act authorization (in addition to an appropriate provincial fishing license) [P Regs 10] (with exceptions set out in P Reg 11);

  • "all forms of prospecting, and any utilization, harvesting or harnessing of resources related to logging, mining or the production of energy, and the laying of oil or gas pipelines or power lines, are prohibited within the confines of a park" (except electrical service as required for the park itself and as pre-existing at the date the park was created) [PA 7(b)];

  • "(n)o person may do other maintenance, development or construction work in or make changes to the grounds of a park without prior authorization from the Minister" [PA 8];

  • with exceptions for those engaged in management or approved scientific purposes, the following wildlife-related activities are prohibited in parks [P Regs 20-21]:

    • to "fell, damage, remove or bring in a tree, a shrub, a herbaceous plant or a part thereof; however, the picking of edible vegetable products is allowed, except for commercial purposes or in a preservation zone or maximum preservation zone";
    • to "feed animals living in the park or leave food for them";
    • to "bring in animals or fish except" guide dogs, dogs or horses used to engage in park activities, and appropriately leashed dogs;
    • to "capture insects or spiders";
    • travelling by means of off-highway vehicles unless on a designated trails and at designated times.
(c) Enforcement

The Parks Act provides for typical regulatory enforcement authorities, including offence provisions for prosecutions [PA 11-11.8, P Regs 26].


2. Natural Heritage Reserves

(a) Overview

The purposes of the Natural Heritage Conservation Act ('NHCA') are to safeguard "the character, diversity and integrity of Québec’s natural heritage through measures to protect its biological diversity and the life-sustaining elements of natural settings" by the establishment of "a network of protected areas representative of biodiversity by introducing protection measures for natural settings" [NHCA 1].

There are five types of NHCA 'protected areas' [NHCA 1-2,11,43]: aquatic reserves, biodiversity reserves, ecological reserves, nature reserves and man-made landscapes. Each type of reserve, and protections that apply to them, are considered in turn below.

(b) Aquatic Reserves

These are areas "consisting mainly of fresh water, salt water or brackish water, established to protect all or part of a body of water or watercourse, including associated wetlands, because of the exceptional value it holds from a scientific, biodiversity-based viewpoint, or to conserve the diversity of its biocenoses or biotopes".

In aquatic reserves the following are prohibited [NHCA 46,47]:
  • "forest development activities" within the meaning of the Sustainable Forest Development Act (see that module);
  • "mining, and gas or petroleum development";
  • "mining, gas and petroleum exploration, brine and underground reservoir exploration, prospecting, and digging or boring";
  • "the development of hydraulic resources and any production of energy on a commercial or industrial basis";
  • vacation resort use, earthwork, backfilling or construction work, and commercial activities (all excepted as per conditions set out in conservation plans);
  • "any type of activity likely to degrade the bed, banks or shores or to otherwise affect the integrity of the body of water or watercourse".
(c) Biodiversity Reserves

These are areas "established in order to maintain biodiversity and in particular an area established to preserve a natural monument — a physical formation or group of formations — and an area established as a representative sample of the biological diversity of the various natural regions of Québec". For these purposes, 'biological diversity' means "the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine, estuarial and freshwater ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; those terms include diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems'.

In biodiversity reserves the following are prohibited [NHCA 46]:
  • "forest development activities" within the meaning of the Sustainable Forest Development Act (see that module);
  • "mining, and gas or petroleum development";
  • "mining, gas and petroleum exploration, brine and underground reservoir exploration, prospecting, and digging or boring";
  • "the development of hydraulic resources and any production of energy on a commercial or industrial basis";
  • vacation resort use, earthwork, backfilling or construction work, and commercial activities (all excepted as per conditions set out in conservation plans).
(d) Ecological Reserves

These are areas "established to:
  • "conserve the elements constituting biological diversity in their natural state, as integrally as possible and in a permanent manner, in particular by protecting ecosystems and the elements or processes on which their dynamics are based";
  • "set aside land for scientific study or educational purposes"; and to
  • "safeguard the habitats of threatened or vulnerable species of flora or fauna"
In ecological reserves the following are prohibited [NHCA 48]:
  • "forest development activities" within the meaning of the Sustainable Forest Development Act (see that module);
  • "mining, and gas or petroleum development";
  • "mining, gas and petroleum exploration, brine and underground reservoir exploration, prospecting, and digging or boring";
  • "the development of hydraulic resources and any production of energy on a commercial or industrial basis";
  • "hunting, trapping, fishing, earthwork and construction activities, agricultural, industrial or commercial activities and, generally, any activity likely to alter the state or nature of ecosystems";
  • entry without authorization.
(e) Nature Reserves

These are areas "under private ownership recognized as a nature reserve because it has significant biological, ecological, wildlife, floristic, geological, geomorphic or landscape features that warrant preservation".

(f) Man-made Landscapes

These are areas "established to protect the biodiversity of an inhabited area of water or land whose landscape and natural features have been shaped over time by human activities in harmony with nature and present outstanding intrinsic qualities the conservation of which depends to a large extent on the continuation of the practices that originally shaped them".

(g) Enforcement

The NHCA contains typical regulatory enforcement authorities, including the appointment of inspectors, with powers of entry, inspection, passing over private lands [NHCA 66]. The Act also contains a broad offence provision for the prosecution of violations [NHCA 70].

Inspectors are immune from civil liability for any acts done in good faith "while acting as an inspector" [NHCA 67].

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