Farmland over industrial park in Wakefield, Quebec

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by admin on March 17, 2010

The Editor,

I have been a regular and frequent visitor to the Gatineau Hills and Wakefield, Quebec at all seasons.

I was dismayed to read, in a recent issue of the Low Down, that one of the most iconic spots on the 105 is threatened.

The rolling field and “Group of Seven” bluff before the Cross Rd loop was one of those landmarks, like the Niagara Escarpment, the first of the Muskoka Rocks, and the foothill at Exshaw, entrance to the Rockies. Only last fall, parked at the car dealership (that I mentally expunge from the scene) did I revel in the view across the road from the Minnes’ farm, up that lyrical mixed wood valley where the gold of birch and poplar contrasted the dense green of towering pine.

But now I learn, like the Minnes Family did, in this Low Down scoop, that the municipality plans to extend the commercial strip turning it into “light” industrial park. Ostensibly, the carrot is an increased tax base. It may also have the unintended effect of slowing traffic on this stretch of the 105 until the four lane Hwy 5 is finished.

But what is irrevocably lost? In an area not overly blessed with good dirt and in an era that embraces local produce, 60 acres of prime arable agricultural land will go under concrete and asphalt, with all its contingent water quality, sewage disposal and runoff challenges.

I understand that the Eco Echo project now under way for the Minnes property protects agricultural land for organic community gardens and recreation. This is both altruistic and of benefit to the whole community. Furthermore, to those of us who drive the road, the view will be obliterated. One has only to look as St. Joseph Blvd north of Hwy 5 to see the sad lessons of strip development. The Giant Tiger strip mall is an example of the unfortunately visual effect of such development on an area that needs tourist dollars. A wedge once driven makes the split almost unstoppable, as any lumberjack knows. Does the municipal council really want this form of urban sprawl for this community?

I ask council not to repeat its predecessors’ mistakes with this short-sighted scheme. If an industrial park must be in the future of this community of artists and lovers of the out-of-doors, at least put it on some already blighted landscape like the Morrison marble pit. Don’t despoil more farmland.

Congratulations to the Low Down for bringing this misstep-in-the-making to the attention of all those who love these Hills before it’s too late. May common sense prevail.

Carol MacLeod

Ottawa, Ontario