Hwy 5 info session hits roadblocks

La Peche residents puzzle over the many bridges, traffic circles and lanes mapped out on the table at the Hwy 5 info session May 19.

La Peche residents puzzle over the many bridges, traffic circles and lanes mapped out on the table at the Hwy 5 info session May 19.

For those La Peche residents who thought they had a say in the extension of Hwy 5, they were greatly misinformed. Almost 200 people attended the May 19 information session at the La Peche Sports Complex only to learn that there will be no more public consultations on the project. They were held in the late 1980s – more than 20 years ago.

“What is the consultation process for the next six months to a year?” Wakefield resident Peter Andree inquired.

Jean-Francois Roy, an engineer connected with Cima + and Tecsult Inc., dodged the question directly by saying that building a highway takes “years” of preparation and that people were consulted several years ago. He said corridors were reserved in the 80s, in order to keep expropriations minimal.

The public consultation issue surfaced again and again with the same question before La Peche Director-General Charles Cardinal stepped in.

“We can’t make a decision tonight about starting a new public consultation process,” he said, adding that concerned residents should write political figures such as Gatineau MNA Stephanie Vallee if they want more public consultations.

Another item that surfaced was the Wakefield spring and possible damage to the aquifer that feeds it when the highway is built. Several people maintained the spring is essential to Villagers. Neil Faulkner asked for assurances that the water supply would not be compromised.

Roy responded to most questions with an “I’m not a specialist” stance. Meanwhile, the specialist in question, A5 project manager Josee Couture, was a no-show at the meeting.

Roy did, however, tell the audience that the Ministere des Transports du Quebec (MTQ) is aware of the Valley Dr. spring and that hydrology studies are underway to investigate any impact on Wakefield’s water supply.

Several people asked when the studies would be ready, but Ricard could not provide a date. He said the reports would be available on the municipality’s website and at local libraries when they come in.

Others attending the meeting asked for assurances that the highway would not be built until the hydrology studies and the federal environmental impact study are completed. Roy assured them that the highway cannot be built until provincial and federal officials authorize everything, and nothing can be authorized until the studies are completed.

Another topic at the meeting was the Brown’s Lake Rd. access situation. Many fear the access will be lost and Wakefielders will lose the popular swimming and hiking spot. MTQ officials and Cima + engineers said the issue should be taken up with the National Capital Commission (NCC).