Does NCC have plans to develop Meech in Chelsea, QC?

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by admin on December 9, 2009

By Ian Hugget

An eleventh-hour decision by the NCC to build an access ramp into the Meech Creek Valley off the A5 highway in Chelsea, Quebec is reminiscent of the construction sequencing of the McConnell – Laramee highway through Gatineau Park’s Gateway Sector a few years ago.

The access ramps were never part of the original road proposals but were included at the last minute when planners – or more accurately former Chairman Marcel Beaudry – unilaterally vetoed funneling more visitors into this already saturated sector of the Park. Cost sharing is usually the incentive for NCC planners to rapidly approach Transport Quebec after initial road construction has begun. But, the Meech Creek Valley already has two access routes which are independent of the new highway servicing two existing parking lots.

Could this maneuver reflect a hidden agenda, in a sector that doesn’t rule out future commercial and tourism industries?

In this case the Meech Creek would benefit from the lubrication of traffic through the valley.

This vision contradicts Gatineau Park’s Master Plan which underscores strategies of limiting vehicular access into population stressed sectors of the park. This major twinned highway has already sacrificed the sanctity of the valley to permit vacationers freer access to their cottages north of Wakefield. The NCC has a protracted history of approving plans which contradict the park’s mandate intended to safeguard its ecological integrity. More often it’s to appease the swelling new generation of entitled post-boomers who view the park as a venue to exploit their recreational appetites.

Citizens should voice their outrage and halt this proposal before NCC planners – tempted by the subsidized inclusion of this access ramp – lose sight of the over-all objective of Gatineau Park: to be a sanctuary where the quality of the park experience transcends the convenience of reaching it.

Ian Huggett is an environmental activist who lives in Aylmer, Quebec.

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