Of great concern to the Austin community is the protection of the lakes and watercourses, the wetlands and forests which act as filters and purify our water, help to retain soil and prevent sedimentation and provide habitat for hundreds of species of plants and wildlife. We have an extraordinary biodiversity at our door and it this that gives us an unsurpassed living environment. Strict regulations are constantly being reassessed to protect this natural environment.
In 2008, the council adopted by-law 08-352, which banned all interventions in the 10-metre wide riparian area (15 metres for land with a slope of 30 %) to allow this buffer zone to play its role as a natural filter for lakes and watercourses. In 2010, the council also created a Green Fund of $15,000 to support various projects to revitalize the riparian area and to prevent erosion.
The Council favours collaboration with property owners and dialogue with the associations of waterfront property owners to better target interventions. The policy of controlling potential sources of pollution, among others, septic tanks, is regularly reassessed and is reflected in appropriate by-laws and proactive management practices
For any questions or comments related to the environment, we invite you to consult the special newsletter on the environment.
Land use planning and development
In a wider perspective, the Council pays particular attention to the planning and construction by-laws because they have a significant impact on the quality of life of the residents of Austin. Construction activity in the municipality is overseen by the municipal inspector, with the support of the administration, to ensure that the planning and land use policies around which the community has reached a consensus, are respected. The municipality has planning tools (for example, the site planning and architectural integration program, the “PIIA”) to manage development and preserve the special character of the village centre and its historical and heritage elements.
Recently, in concert with various groups of citizens and with the technical support of the resource persons mobilized by the MRC de Memphremagog, the Council has been studying the possibility of intervening more directly in the protection of landscapes. One concrete example is the planting and restoring of tree tunnels. Even though we now have provisions in the by-laws that govern tree-cutting, and although it is possible to control devastating cuts, more concrete measures are needed to protect and enhance the exceptional views that characterize the Municipality of Austin and protect the natural environment.
The MRC de Memphrémagog is in the process of revising its land use and development plan (the ''Schéma'') and then the Municipality will revise its planning by-laws to make sure they are in line with the Schéma.