I’m addressing the present and future community of BALNEA, my team and our guests, as well as the citizens of Bromont, concerning the fate of the Domaine naturel du Lac Gale.
As you know, BALNEA, spa et réserve thermale is located in the heart of a protected forest, known as the Domaine naturel du Lac Gale (DNLG). This natural space spreads over 320 acres. It offers 22 km of trails, shelters rare wildlife varieties and a diversified flora. Among the different species found here, some are classified as being endangered species. It also offers magnificent viewpoints and a pristine lake. One of its main assets is the tranquility found here, and this is what we hope to, and feel we must protect.
The DNLG was created in 2005 after the town adopted its “Stratégie de protection des espaces verts et des milieux naturels.” The document presenting the strategy contains the following statement pertaining to the domain: This does not simply imply zoning a piece of land, but rather to forever waive different land development rights. (our translation)
It should be recalled that it was the cofounder of BALNEA, Daniel Émond’s donation of more than 300 acres of land, including Lake Gale, that made it possible to establish the DNLG. Indeed, without his donation, the original 400-acre estate targeted by the emphyteutic lease would have remained under private control with a restricted-access outdoor activities centre and a spa.
In 2005, pursuant to this donation, Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC), Ville de Bromont and BALNEA established a contractually binding partnership through an agreement whereby all parties committed to protect the area’s ecosystem and tranquility. The agreement also allowed citizens to access this environment via the network of trails.
The DNLG has had very successful outcomes for its founding partners. In fact, it is a source of pride for Bromont, as stated by the town’s elected officials and administrators of the time in the following article of the municipal bulletin Voici Bromont—Le développement durable—April 2007:
“… It’s a privilege to be able to enjoy such a jewel of nature. The Domaine du lac Gale’s natural wealth is also what makes it so fragile… It’s therefore important to proceed meticulously and with diligence. Our goal: to be able to enjoy the domain safely for a long time to come.” (our translation)
—M. Ronald Caron director of the SLCVC of Ville de Bromont, April 2007.
THE BALNEA PROJECT
Since they first bought the grounds and buildings of the Base de plein air Davignon, BALNEA’s owners have always upheld their vision of an eco-responsible management with a high regard for the tranquility found in this conservation zone. In 2005, it was only natural for BALNEA to insert their project for developing a spa within this vast area with tranquility as one of its key elements.
For Ville de Bromont, the thermal reserve project constituted a perfect fit for their green spaces’ perpetual conservation strategy. This acceptance, then governed by different agreements (the donation agreement with the town, the conservation servitude with NCC, the tranquility servitude and scrutiny rights in favour of BALNEA), guaranteed BALNEA that the conservation and tranquility of the territory would be respected for perpetuity. BALNEA thus proceeded with the domain’s transfer for the sum of $1.
AN AGREEMENT ADRIFT
Ville de Bromont has known different administrators and elected officials over the years, causing this partner’s commitment towards the 2005 agreement to slowly fall into oblivion. The present elected officials have been focusing their own efforts primarily on developing the Parc des Sommets de Bromont project.
Today, the DNLG is considered as a subsection of the Parc des Sommets and is used as a recreational asset for the municipality with a high-volume attraction interest. The operations presently being carried out here greatly differ from the DNLG’s first mission centred on nature conservation through a common management and a low-density access. The agreement prioritized respecting the tranquility of this zone, preserving its nature, and operating a children’s day camp dedicated to environmental awareness. These terms are no longer the priority here.
VOCATION OF THE PARC DES SOMMETS
The Parc des Sommets constitutes a recreational site providing Bromont residents and area visitors an exciting venue for an adrenaline rush, where they can blow off some steam, challenge themselves, and enjoy friendly gatherings. Moreover, the park provides a relative degree of protection for its surrounding green spaces.
Today, we can all agree that access to nature is directly related to maintaining our mental and physical health. However, having access to nature doesn’t always just relate to sports, high performance sports, noisy exuberance and group gatherings. Access to nature is also defined as an invitation to slow down, to offer ourselves a moment of introspection, to connect with both the sounds and silence of the forest. Indeed, this pure nature offers a facilitating pathway to attain and maintain our wellbeing and inner peace.
RESPECTING OUR UNCHANGED MISSION
In order to have the city respect the terms of the domain’s transfer deed, notably to uphold its permanent vocation by respecting the tranquility of the DNLG, BALNEA has met with elected officials multiple times to request more interventions and operating restrictions. BALNEA is simply asking that all parties comply with the terms of the agreement to protect the territory.
Our mission has remained the same since 2005 and our values uphold the domain’s conservation and tranquility. NCC is an agency with the sole mandate of conserving our ecosystems. Its values have therefore remained the same over time. Ville de Bromont’s values shouldn’t change either. They are contractually bound by the agreement requiring that they conserve the ecological integrity of the DNLG for perpetuity, and signed by the elected officials of the time. Without a doubt, these elected officials, truly acted as visionaries through their willingness to protect nature from any changes in the city’s values that might occur over time.
RESPECTING OUR COMMITMENT AND NATURE
Some sections of the Parc des sommets are open to all, almost anytime, with very few restrictions for both the types of activities practised here and the means used to explore this space. The Domaine naturel du lac Gale, because of its specific ecosystem, its vulnerability and its contractual environment, is accessible, but from a different approach. It is dedicated to inner wellbeing, to introspection, to an authentic immersion inside nature, thus ensuring the perpetuity of its initial vocation to protect the ecosystem and the tranquility found in these surroundings.
About Denis Laframboise
Denis Laframboise graduated from Queen’s University with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. He obtained his master’s degree from the University of Laval in Environmental Economy. The subject of his thesis examined the economic value of the Atlantic salmon, aiming his research on counterbalancing the different cost-benefit studies of the Sainte-Marguerite River hydroelectric project by valorizing organic resources. He also carried out several more environmental studies, among these, the economic value of landscapes, and the economic value of vast lake wetlands. All his studies were directed towards valorizing environmental resources within our economy. Clearly, he feels very strongly about such attributes as the tranquility of the environment and the natural state and value of ecosystems. He is, of course, therefore particularly concerned about the value of the Domaine Naturel du Lac Gale.
Involved with BALNEA since June 2004, first as part of the management team, and later in 2006, as a co-owner. He became the sole owner of the reserve in August 2019. He takes to heart the development of BALNEA as being a business that respects its neighbouring citizens, its guests, its team and its corporate clients. He also takes to heart protecting the Domaine naturel du Lac Gale’s ecosystems and tranquility among other reasons, because his company and his team’s wellbeing are intrinsically linked to the health and welfare of the domain.
To learn more:
Communiqué de presse de la Ville de Bromont
MARTIN, A. (avril 2007), « Le Domaine du Lac Gale », Voici Bromont, Bulletin municipal d’information — Volume 9 no 1, p. 2-3.
Please note that our opening hours vary during holidays and high season periods.