Environmental violation during the construction of the new Champlain Bridge

Signature sur le Saint-Laurent Construction, which was leading the construction of the new Champlain Bridge under the authority of a federal department, committed an environmental violation that earned it a fine of $75,000 imposed by the federal government, has learned The duty. Although the sanction was confirmed last November, it has still not been made public.

According to information obtained by The duty, then confirmed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the offense was committed in the fall of 2020, as part of work on a pier located at the limits of L’Île-des-Soeurs. These had caused a major release of sediment into the waters of the St. Lawrence River, in violation of the Fisheries Act of Canada, which protects fish habitat.

“The company had an authorization from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to carry out the work. This authorization was conditional on the application of mitigation measures, the use of certain work methods and the respect of the sequences of operations in order to minimize the impacts of the project on fish and their habitat”, explains the federal ministry. , in a written response.

The latter does not provide details on the seriousness of the offence, the nature of the sediments discharged, the duration of the discharge or the impacts on the aquatic fauna of the St. Lawrence. « The sediment and erosion control measures put in place to limit the input of sediment from the construction site to the aquatic environment were not effective », it is simply stated, following a request precision.

At the time of the spill, the DFO had considered the situation serious enough to stop the work « after observing non-compliance with the authorization conditions concerning the work method as well as the management of site water ».

Following this shutdown, “corrective measures relating to the work sequence as well as better worksite water management were required by DFO. The contractor, after complying with these measures, was able to resume his work,” the ministry said.

It seems to me normal and desirable for Fisheries and Oceans Canada to intervene to ensure compliance with the law and the authorizations given

After analysis of the file, the company Signature sur le Saint-Laurent Construction SENC nevertheless received a « sanction » of $75,000 on November 7, 2022. The information had still not been published, as of Thursday, February 2, 2023 For this type of offence, the “maximum penalty” is $200,000, says DFO. The value of the contract for the construction of the new bridge was around 4 billion dollars.

Signature on the Saint-Laurent Construction includes SNC-Lavalin, Dragados Canada, Flatiron Constructors Canada and EBC. Infrastructure Canada, a federal department, is however the responsible authority for the New Champlain Bridge Corridor project. This is the “public” partner of the public-private partnership. Infrastructure Canada works with other federal partners, including Public Services and Procurement Canada, PPP Canada and Justice Canada.

Infrastructure Canada did not comment on the file, in response to our request sent on Wednesday. We did not get a response from SNC-Lavalin.


After having read the information provided to the To have to by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the director general of the Society for Nature and Parks of Quebec, Alain Branchaud, believes that there is a lack of details to assess the situation and its environmental impacts. “It is difficult to judge the adequacy and significance of a fine without knowing the exact nature of the offence, its duration, whether it is a repeat offense and without knowing whether the authorities have clearly promoted compliance with the law,” he argued.

According to him, it would be useful for the federal government to show more transparency. “In the public interest and that of environmental protection, we invite Fisheries and Oceans to put in place communication policies based on transparency when it comes to the application of the Fisheries Act. In the end, a fine must remain a deterrent and in no case become a disguised form of discounted compensation for the destruction of fish habitat. »

Anne-Sophie Doré, lawyer at the Center québécois du droit de l’environnement, believes that the DFO has played its role in this file. “It seems normal and desirable to me that Fisheries and Oceans Canada intervene to ensure compliance with the law and the authorizations given. The laws generally provide for penalties […] and it seems to me desirable that these sanctions be applied. »

In the Champlain Bridge sector, there are species listed on the Canadian endangered species list, including aquatic species. Both the construction of the new bridge and the demolition of the old one raised questions about environmental impacts.

According to information specified at the time by Infrastructure Canada, impacts were expected for fish habitat, wetlands and a migratory bird sanctuary, in particular. Compensation measures have therefore been announced.

To see in video

(function(d, s, id){ var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) {return;} js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "https://connect.facebook.net/fr_CA/sdk.js"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));


Back to top button