Minimizing trail trash attempt to throw Park protection groups off the track

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by admin on October 27, 2010

The Editor,

Ian Huggett’s flawed reasoning in a letter to the editor (Low Down, Oct. 13 edition)  requires serious rebuttal.

First, he tries but fails to minimize the Gatineau Park trail-trash/glass-shard problem by claiming too much fuss has been made over too little trash – a mere two handfuls, he says.

Well, way more than that has been found, reported and denounced by groups such as the Gatineau Park Protection Committee, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, as well as four news services and several park visitors.

Moreover, concerned citizens such as road engineer Paul Carnaffan and outdoor enthusiast Tom McGee have confirmed the Trail Trash Debacle extends far beyond the recently resurfaced section of Trail No. 1.

Following their reports, more trash on Trail Nos. 1, 3 and 31 was found – all of it put there by Demsis, the contractor. And I’m certain checking “rehabilitation” work done on Trails 40 and 16 would turn up more trash.

Second, Quebec’s Environmental Quality Act says it’s illegal to dump contaminants into the environment, stipulating that contaminants include solid matter “likely to alter the quality of the environment in any way.” Like, say, all the trash found so far.

Third, the saddest part of Mr. Huggett’s letter is his attempt to discredit me with allegations I’m engaging in personal attack and character assassination of NCC staff. Of course, he provides no examples to back up that claim – because there are none. And this is strangely reminiscent of what some Kingsmere landowners are trying to do.

Fourth, to call public officials on the carpet for paving the Park with garbage, denying the problem and then misleading the public is not a personal attack.

It’s called responsible citizenship, and it’s the duty of everyone who really cares about the Park and the environment and refuses to allow our precious tax dollars to be squandered by mismanagement and incompetence. This is not “burning at the stake,” it’s common sense.

Fifth, having walked Trail No. 1 almost every day for the past 12 years, I can say with great certainty that its erosion wasn’t caused so much by mountain bikes, but mostly by natural processes. I’ll add that, on this topic, Mr. Huggett seems to be parroting the view of the NCC and landowners, i.e., that people are the problem and should be discouraged from visiting the Park.

Finally, instead of making excuses for NCC delinquency and incompetence, and trying to discredit Park defenders, Mr. Huggett should get back to doing what he’s supposed to be good at: defending the environment.

Jean-Paul Murray

Chelsea, Quebec

Ed. note: Jean-Paul Murray is chair of the Gatineau Park Protection Committee