The north end of the lake remained undeveloped until the early 1970’s. Several small cottages along the railway track were only occupied during the summer season.
The “Chemin des Boisés” was developed in 1975. The history of the Linear Park is summarized in the introduction of Judge Langlois’s decision of November 30, 2004 (prohibiting snowmobiles along linear park). Hereunder are some highlights:
…”The railway between Saint-Jerome and Mont-Laurier was constructed at the beginning of the 19th century, and the rail bed was a property of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
After a long period of boom, railway activities began to decline during the 1970’s: the frequency of merchandise transports began to decrease, and passenger service was abandoned.
During the 1980’s, the Canadian Pacific completely stopped the transport of merchandise, and eventually obtained permission to completely abandon the right of way.
(20) The tracks were removed during the 1990’s.
(21) Towards the end of the 1970’s, the Provincial Government expressed an interest in acquiring the rail right of way, along with several other rail beds that had been abandoned, so that they might be transformed for public use.
(22) The MRC des Laurentides (regional municipality) adopted a resolution on January 12, 1989, indicating their support for the abandonment of rail service between Saint-Jerome and Mont-Laurier and the transformation of the rail bed into a Linear Park”….
Dismantling of the rail line
The end of rail activity, and the removal of the tracks in the 1980’s along lac Mercier, marked the beginning of a major dispute between those who wanted the linear park for snowmobiles and those who favoured “green” activities like Nordic skiing.
In 1990, the Association des résidents du lac Mercier created a committee for the linear park, whose specific mandate was to address the problem of the snowmobiles along the abandoned rail bed, and it’s activities included:
-Meetings with snowmobile clubs, and l’ Association Touristique des Laurentides (ATL)
-Submission of a Memorandum, and various representations to the Municipality of Mont-Tremblant the MRC, the CRLL, Canadian Pacific, and the Provincial Government in order to find solutions to reduce the major problems associated with the dense traffic of the snowmobiles, night and day
-Multiple interventions in order to find an alternative track for the snowmobiles (1991-1993)
Because of failure of all consultative measures, a lawsuit was begun. Presentation of a request for a Summary Judgement, which would prohibit snowmobiles along the linear park (October 1993). The Government of Quebec imposed two injunctions, opposing our legal procedures.
Finally, in August 1996, Judge Crête’s decision resulted in the end of the legal proceedings.
race-track for snowmobiles
- The Association du lac Mercier was mandated to utilize all available measures to protect the rights of residents. Different methods were utilized in an attempt to control the snowmobile activity on the lake (1993-1998)
- The Association received the full support to the « Coalition pour la protection de l’environnement du parc lineaire Le P’tit Train Du Nord », which was created later.
Finally, Success!… Judge Langlois’s decision on November 30, 2004, permanently prohibiting snowmobiles along the linear park from Saint-Faustin-lac-Carré to Labelle
After several years of delay, the decision was appealed, and it was not until 2009 that the matter was definitively settled in favour of the residents along the linear park.
linear park “Le p’tit-Train-du-Nord” has a turbulent past
The abandoned rail bed, now replaced by the linear park “Le P’tit-Train-du-Nord”, has a turbulent past, which has given rise to numerous efforts on our part in order to preserve the safety and tranquility of the homeowners adjacent to the trail.
The Association des résidents is involved in participating in the dossier relating to future usage of the linear park, including :
-Opposition to the proposal to asphalt the linear park (since 2004)
-Constant vigilance in the face of promoter-driven projects for non-ecological activities along the linear park
-Opposition to the project of a tourist tram (2006)
-Interventions opposing the project to “renew the Petit train du Nord” (since 2006 and still active)
-Request to the regional municipality to authorize non-motorized activities along the linear park, i.e. walking, snowshoeing, skiing (since 2005)
Requests to the Regional Municipality to define the rules, rights and occupation permits along the linear park (2005-2014)
-Evaluation of non-authorized occupation of the shoreline at the level of the linear park
-Request that formal occupation permits be given, following the installation of numerous new docks and fences along the track (2005)
Several interventions with various organizations to promote non-polluting “green” activities along the linear park.
Actions undertaken to prevent the destabilization of the artificial surface along the Linear Park and to maintain the stability of the rail bed along the shoreline where important contaminants are buried below the surface.
Requests were made to the Regional Municipality (MRC) to minimize their cutting of vegetation along the park in order to protect the shoreline.
The Association du lac Mercier remains equally vigilant in resisting the pressures to pave the surface of the linear park with asphalt.
The Association du lac Mercier is much in favour of non-polluting activities on the linear park. The linear park has allowed all those who participate in « green” activities, to enjoy the beautiful landscape bordering the lake, which is a unique attraction requiring preservation. The objectives for the residents are:
-maintain the stability of the surface of the linear park because of the numerous contaminants trapped therein, and minimize actions that could alter the surface,
-preserve the vegetal cover along the edge of the track surface in order to return it to it’s original state,
-limit erosion within the few meters that separate the linear park from the lake.
These objectives lead the residents to oppose any usage that could interfere with the natural state of the linear park by modifying or enlarging the surface of the track. The residents must ensure that all regulations currently in place for the protection of the shoreline, be respected and enforced. During the Fall of 2013, despite numerous residents’ protests, the city council approved the paving of the Linear Park from St-Jovite sector to the “Place de la Gare” in the village. The project was completed in a few weeks shortly afterwards.
-Biking and Strolling:
The trail around lac Mercier is a regional tourist attraction. There are not many similar places so conducive to pedestrian strolling, jogging or family cycling, with such a spectacular view of the lake.
People come to lac Mercier because of it’s rural atmosphere. The surface of the trail in stone dust, as well as the numerous rest stops, contribute to the natural appearance of this portion of the Linear Park.
-Cross country ski: Agreement was reached between the city and Mont-Tremblant Cross country ski during January 2011, to ensure grooming of the cross-country ski trail on the lac Mercier portion of the linear park.
Recommendations have been made such that trail grooming is done at reasonable times, and that barriers impeding motorized vehicles, be left in place permanently.
Lake access along the linear park and MRC rules:
Access to the public beach at Lac Mercier offers residents and visitors a unique location for leisure activities.
Because the linear park covers 50% of the lake’s perimeter, many adjacent property owners must cross the track to reach the edge of the lake. The MRC is responsible for authorizing any right of access or installations on their property.
Non-authorized occupations and abuses relating to brush cutting, have been observed for many years all along the park.
MRC modified it’s management scheme
The lake Association was able to get one representative appointed to a working group within the MRC Committee, tasked with developing regulations and guiding principles relating to the usage of the shoreline component of the linear park.
L’Association du lac Mercier proposed a compromise to ensure that the rights of it’s members, who are contiguous to the linear park, be preserved to allow access to the lake and the placing of a dock. A policy authorizing access to the lake on behalf of adjacent residents was approved by the MRC (mayors council) in April 2014.
The new MRC initiative related to the policy of occupation of portions of the linear park includes:
– The granting of new permits to the current holders of leases, and to owners of a property contiguous to the linear park; the granting of permits and their renewal must conform to requirements of the regulation;
– The granting of a grace period to those who are currently illegal to normalize their right to occupy;
– The obligation of new permit holders to adhere to the rules of usage;
– The obligation to respect municipal regulations relating to the protection of the shoreline.
At the end of the grace period, projected to January 2016, no new permits of occupation will be issued nor renewed if the occupant does not conform to principles and requirements described in the MRC policy and the municipal bylaws.
August 2016: Several property owners who are contiguous to the linear park and who have fulfilled the requirement of the occupation policy, are still waiting for their permits.
It seems that the delay is at the level of the provincial Ministry of Transport.