Reaction to outdated information boiling over in Wakefield, Quebec


by admin on March 2, 2011

By Nancy Hooker

I am not an outspoken person and generally express my opinions on public issues only in private. However, the current development issues facing Wakefield, Quebec have left me feeling so concerned and angered that I feel compelled to speak out.

In my opinion, the building of the Hwy 5 extension, the regional septic treatment plant on the Gatineau river near Farrellton and the 100-acre industrial park at the entrance to Wakefield, all constitute threats to our village.

To be clear, I realize that development in and around Wakefield cannot be avoided. However, these three projects all have a common and, in my opinion, very serious flaw. They are all based on outdated information, outdated technologies, outdated studies and outdated thinking by both municipal and provincial politicians.

The highway extension design is based on studies done back in the 1980s and does not take into account how the construction will affect our much-needed spring and the ecologically sensitive area of Brown Lake. Our spring, on which thousands rely as a source of potable water, could be contaminated or have it’s flow disturbed by the construction process.

The MRC septic plant, as it is currently planned, will pour minimally-treated waste from six municipalities into the Gatineau River. This byproduct will not meet new federal standards, making the plant an outdated facility before it is even constructed.

The MRC is thinking of polluting a relatively clean river that is the backbone of our eco economy and which may be needed to supply drinking water to an expanding Wakefield – especially if the spring becomes contaminated. How does this make sense?

Finally, our municipality wants to build an industrial park as a means of creating local jobs. This might make sense if we were a nondescript, generic village with no other options for creating jobs.

But we do have options. We live in a lovely village that has an expanding eco-tourism base. Sixty acres of the land slated for this industrial park would need to be expropriated from Eco Echo lands. Eco Echo has a vision to develop an environmental campus that would create jobs while respecting the environment. Instead of supporting this progressive endeavour, our municipal government is choosing to support its demise by pursuing the regressive industrial park option instead.

To make matters worse, both municipal and provincial government representatives seem deaf to the legitimate concerns expressed by the citizen groups that have formed not to stop all development, but to advocate for sustainable and smart development based on up- to-date information/technologies and progressive ways of thinking.

So until my government representatives find the courage to listen, and to act progressively, I will find the courage to talk to my neighbours, write letters, sign petitions, attend council meetings, ask questions and to make my voice heard somehow.

I hope that many more previously silent citizens of Wakefield and La Peche will do the same before it is too late.

Nancy Hooker is a resident of Wakefield, Quebec.