The dream of a Blue Route is about to become a reality, in a slightly different form from the initial concept.

“The Blue Route is a national trail like the Vélo Québec Green Route and the National Hiking Trail, managed by Rando Québec,” says Chahaya Saleha, Blue Route Project Officer at Canot Kayak Québec. “We are actually talking about several navigable routes, both on the river and on the lakes and rivers. »

In a first version, the Blue Route had taken the form of a navigable path all along the river, which was mainly aimed at experienced kayakers.

“It was a really nice project, people were able to use it, but it wasn’t for beginners, not even for intermediates,” says Saleha. It only targeted a small part of Quebecers. »

It was groups of volunteers who managed all of this with regional consultation committees, but the project ended up being abandoned.

“We still have the whole database, but there are a lot of things that are out of date, like boating agreements that don’t hold anymore because they were private lands that didn’t no longer belong to the same person, explains Chahaya Saleha. We have removed all information that was online. »

Canot Kayak Québec has changed course and decided to work on routes of different levels of difficulty for different types of boats.

“What we’ve realized with water sports is that people don’t really have access to bodies of water,” says Saleha. For the launch, it is super difficult to understand what is public, what is private. »

The Blue Route will be officially launched on June 29 in Saint-Raymond de Portneuf. This year, around fifteen routes will see the light of day in different regions.

“It comes from the regions themselves,” says Chahaya Saleha. Often, it is people who are already on a river and who ask us to characterize it. We take the GPS points, we make sure it’s safe, we give them a pre-feasibility report. We make upgrade suggestions. »

It is essentially a question of putting up a sign at the launch and providing a sufficiently large parking lot. “Afterwards, it’s up to them to see if they want to create infrastructure, install picnic tables. What we are trying to implement more and more is a washing place for the boats, so as not to contaminate the different bodies of water. »

Regions may want to create a Blue Route at home for different reasons. “The MRC de la Matapédia had a problem between the different users, including motorized boats, says Ms. Saleha. There was another safety issue because there are high winds on Lake Matapedia. So they needed a safe tool. »

For its part, the MRC of Yamaska ​​wanted to create an ecotourism product to complete the Route verte that was already passing through it. “It’s not just about attracting tourists, but about being a tourist in your own region. I give the example of the Southwest Nicolet River between Kingsey Falls and Danville: it’s a great river for paddleboarding, but people didn’t know that. »

Creating a course that follows Blue Route standards can take two years. The first routes launched this year are essentially daily outings, routes of around ten kilometres.

“This summer, we will characterize new routes, we will take GPS points on different rivers to create long expeditions in 2024 or 2025, says Chayana Saleha. We are also going to do characterization in Chaleur Bay, in the Magdalen Islands. »

A brand new website will offer maps and provide all the necessary information on the different routes, including the presence of rental or guide services. For now, the courses are aimed at paddle boats, such as canoes, kayaks and paddle boards. “We are starting to sign agreements with Voile Quebec and Kite Quebec to one day integrate them as well. »

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