Gatineau Park plan puts builders over rock climbers

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by admin on March 24, 2010

The Editor,

The recently disclosed Gatineau Park Conservation Plan is a cynical exercise designed to keep rock climbers and the public out of the park, while allowing residents to continue building houses in the Meech Lake water.

The plan unveiled March 17 mandates conservation as a top park management priority, and flows out of the 2005 Gatineau Park Master Plan which first expressed this commitment. However, since adoption of the Master Plan in May 2005, significant residential development has impaired the park – in direct violation of every Master Plan.

The Conservation Plan lists three main factors leading to the park’s ecological degradation – invasive species, recreation and visitorship, and private property. Unfortunately, among its “Priority Conservation Actions” there are no proposals for eliminating residential proliferation.

Instead, this “action plan” urges the limiting of “water-borne human activities and swimming” to protect natural vegetation on the shores of La Pêche, Philippe and Meech Lakes. So, according to NCC logic, swimming , canoeing – and climbing – are greater threats to park ecology than use of dynamite to blast the Meech Lake Shoreline (see www.gatineauparc.ca).

Moreover, the NCC rests its decisions to limit park access on grossly inflated figures, as NCC CEO Marie Lemay demonstrated during her public display of confusion at the Conservation Plan press conference. She said park visitorship was three times greater than it was “thirty years ago.” Seems Ms. Lemay thinks 6 million people visit the park every year – i.e., page 9 of 1980 Gatineau Park Master Plan placed yearly figures at “over two million” way back then.

Gatineau Park was supposed to be a monument to democracy, but the NCC has turned it into a monument to mismanagement, incoherence and public exclusion.

Andrew McDermott

Co-chair, Gatineau Park Protection Committee