Protection group warns citizens to keep guard up in river fight

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by admin on May 4, 2011

The Editor,

I attended the Rally for the Gatineau River on Thursday, April 21 in Chelsea, Quebec. The event was, indeed, the biggest demonstration ever in support of the river and good government.

More than 500 concerned citizens attended in person and more than 200 virtual marchers signed up for this event. The group was so large that when the first marchers arrived at the MRC building, there were still people marching on Scott Road, three blocks away.

We heard from the Ottawa Riverkeeper, Friends of the Gatineau, river historian and adventurer Max Finkelstein, as well as from three federal election candidates –  Mathieu Ravignat, Cindy Duncan McMillan and Louis-Philippe Mayrand (Lawrence Cannon and Maude Tremblay were invited but did not respond).

I also spoke, representing Citizens for the Protection of the Gatineau – the group leading the fight (legal and other) against the proposed sewage treatment plant. Everyone had the same message – Protect the River! Stop this plant, find a better solution – because better solutions exist. And don’t put this plant beside the Gatineau River.

In the afterglow of the march, I attended the MRC council meeting. I was hopeful that our message had been heard by the mayors because the MRC had advised us and the media in writing that no decisions would be made about the septic plant at this meeting.

Imagine our feelings of deception when we saw the heading, “Septic waste plant” on the agenda. Worse, the item referred to hiring Fahey and Associates – a consulting arm of CIMA+ – to begin the de-zoning of the agricultural land of the two possible sites for the facility. However, we were told the firm was just being hired to describe the agricultural qualities of the two sites.

We left the meeting – but a lawyer in our midst interpreted the agenda item differently from what we had been told. A brave citizen’s group re-entered the meeting and was able to stop the mayors as they were voting to accept this resolution. They agreed to postpone the hiring of Fahey to a later meeting.

So much for the mayors listening to us. I won’t be discouraged, as I know that the vast majority of informed citizens oppose this plant and want to protect the Gatineau River. The number of citizens actively involved in fighting this plant keeps growing and we are getting increasingly organized. But this episode should make it clear to all your readers that we are not fighting a fair battle.

If you want to contribute to the CPG legal fund or learn more about this not-for-profit corporation, please write to ecolapeche@gmail.com.

 

Tamara Tarasoff

Farrellton, Quebec

 

Ed. note: The writer is president of Citizens for the Protection of the Gatineau (Inc).