August 19, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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Journey of Isle-aux-Coudres: Islanders tired of STQ

Journey of Isle-aux-Coudres: Islanders tired of STQ

A few days before the ferry workers’ strike, a group of citizens and entrepreneurs from L’Isle-aux-Coudres sent an official notice to the Société des Traversiers du Québec (STQ) to improve the service and said they were willing to go that far. Ask for oversight by a state agency.

• Also Read: Isle-aux-Coudres Ferry: Essential services will be maintained despite the strike

The official notice comes as ferry workers between L’Isle-aux-Coudres and Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive intend to stage an indefinite walkout from 6am on Saturday. Essential services are provided.

The official notice asks to “make an offer of crossings as soon as possible according to the schedules in force for many years” and to “provide a reliable vessel throughout the year”.

It was also sent to the CEO of STQ, Stéphane Lafat, the Chairman of the Board, Pascal Tessier-Fleury, and the Minister responsible for STQ, François Bonnardel, Minister of Transport.

bored

“There have been violations by STQ for many years. We are not coming out of the surprise box. It is not two or three things happening right now that will make us intervene,” said Simon Vadnais, spokesperson for the twenty-member group.

“It’s not just during the tourist season that there are problems. It is also winter. Boat stuck in ice, lack of relief boat. There is a lack of focus and assessment in STQ management and no one seems to be held accountable”, adds the representative of the “Crisis Cell”.

A serious approach

The group’s lawyer swore the official notice was non-smoking.

“When people don’t keep their promises, we resort to legal action to make things happen. STQ has duties and responsibilities. But she always fails to deliver services. It’s a failure”, pleads Me Frederic Saint-Jean.

The lawyer explained that a formal notice is an ultimatum.

“Something has to happen. There should be involvement and transparency of the people of the island. Otherwise I will decide the conditions in the Superior Court, because there will be a request for an injunction and possibly a guardianship,” cautioned Mr.e Saint-Jean.

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Economic consequences

He argued that companies saw their turnover drop by 20 to 25% due to problems at the crossroads.

The official notice assesses damages of $1 million to businesses, $1 million for bad press and $1,000 per resident for inconvenience.

“I calculated the damage very theoretically, but I estimate it to be much more than that”, the lawyer stated.

Deja vu

Angry islanders recalled that this was not the first media outlet to have problems at the crossing.

In March, the mayor of the small municipality of about 1,100 residents, Christian Dufour, a former employee of STQ, also offered his services to alleviate the labor shortage.

“Each time, we were told it would be fixed. They even went so far as to promise us three boats for this summer. It’s always window dressing and we put out the fire at the last minute. We can never get the timing right”, Simon torments Vadnais.

strike

And the looming labor dispute also sticks to STQ’s skin in the group’s eyes.

“The agreements have been open for two years and they are not able to get along with the employees, not just here. We are telling ourselves that there is a failure in management. They are friends, colleagues, family members who work for travel. Yes the strike is scary, but no one is mad at them. Felix-Antoine-Saward has had no maintenance for a year and a half. He left the winter. Employees are not the problem,” argues Simon Vadnais.

the future

According to Mr. Vadnais, service problems have various ramifications. In addition to considerations during a medical emergency, he points to the prospect of provoking islanders as tourists, the uncertainty of whether the crossing will happen, and suppliers who charge extra or refuse to go to the island.

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Last winter the school was closed because some teachers did not come to school. People were also forced to take holidays because they could not go to their jobs.

“How do people want to move here if they’re not sure they can come to work? The entrepreneurs here are saying they won’t invest for the next 5 to 10 years because the risk factor is too high. Nobody wants to continue developing Isle-Aux-Coudres. And we have great kite-surfing, music, shows, restaurants. The momentum is there,” lamented Mr. Vadnais.

The island has an airstrip, but no company serves there.

response

STQ responded to the official notice through a press release on Wednesday, saying it would not grant an additional interview.

“We understand the concerns of merchants and residents of L’Isle-aux-Coudres. Despite the delay in the modernization of the MV Joseph-Saward and the general labor shortage in Quebec, we have deployed a second vessel to L’Isle-aux-Coudres in the summer of 2021 and 2022. From Quebec-Lévis In addition to moving the vessel, we leased a European vessel with an investment of several million dollars. Our priority is to provide adequate services to the residents and traders of the island even when we have to face strike days and some delays from our suppliers, which we have had in the past year,” wrote STQ.

The ships waltz at the crossroads

Name / Status / Role

  • MV Félix-Antoine-Saward / In Service / STQ Relief Vessel. Will replace Joseph-Saward from March 2021.
  • NM Svanoy / in service / chartered Norwegian vessel. Started on Monday.
  • NM Joseph-Savard / under repair / lead ship. Built in 1985. Mid-life repairs that began in March 2021 have been delayed. Recommissioning is currently scheduled for the fall.
  • NM Radisson / under repair / relief ship for summer reinforcements. Built in 1954. Unexpected engine failure in April 2021. Not scheduled to return to service. To be replaced in 2031.
  • NM Alphonse-Desjardins / Retired / Assigned to Quebec-Lewis Ferry. Replaced by NM Radisson in summer 2021
  • NM Lomer-Gouin / Retired / Assigned to Quebec-Lewis Crossing. In office from June 23 to July 4, 2022
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The islanders are at their wits end

  • “We made the Mayor change his name to Sailor, Lieutenant or Captain. Is it bad enough?” – Mayor Christian Dufour in March 2022
  • “The serious lapses of management and predictability accumulated from the leaders of the STQ have had a direct impact on the stability of the island’s population and their safety for a long time, and this in all seasons.” – Group Press Release
  • “When we went out last summer, it was too late to save the season. But we want to tell them to give us a (tourist) season in 2022. The fact is they haven’t prepared anything. What’s going on at STQ? – Simon Vadnais, Group Spokesperson
  • “We have heard from the municipality in the past. We heard Tourisme Isle-aux-Coudres. There are residents and business people who say enough is enough. Ecourantite was there. – Simon Vadnais, Group Spokesperson
  • “It’s a deaf conversation with STQ. Shoes do not follow your lips” – Me Frédéric Saint-Jean, group lawyer.
  • “We have two links in Quebec and we want a third. At Isle-aux-Coudres we wanted just one, but a functional one. -Me Frédéric Saint-Jean, group lawyer

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