Remember ‘The Killer Highway’?


by Nikki Mantell on May 26, 2010

Does anyone still remember the saying, “I survived the 105″?

Back in the ’80s, this newspaper ran a lengthy, passionate and popularly supported campaign to find a solution to the much-hated “Killer Highway”.

How times have changed.

Here we are in 2010 and when the plans for the Hwy 5 extension to Wakefield are finally presented, the crowds come out and bombard government officials with tough questions, even requests to abandon the project.

Ironically, those who ask “do we really need this highway?” are protesting politicians who finally made good on a promise to their neighbours. The plans for this four-laner to replace the deathly double-laner that produced so many crashes we used to run a weekly tally, go back at least 30 years.

Equally ironic, those who now say the region doesn’t need it… are the very reason the region needs it: a population boom that sees some 15,000 cars pass by on a busy weekend day. They may not be speaking up at meetings, but many long-time residents have had loved ones die or injured on the 105 over the years and very much want this safer route. Many have a hard time with new residents whose protests suggest an attitude of “now that I’ve moved here, it’s perfect, and nothing can change.”

But perhaps “protest” is too strong a word. To be fair, residents have reason to be concerned and are asking legitimate questions: does tiny Wakefield really merit two giant roundabouts; what about access to Gatineau Park; what about natural animal traffic corridors?

And the big question about overall environmental impact – most notably, will this highway extension ruin the aquifer that feeds the Wakefield spring?

The Wakefield spring is the closest thing the region has to holy water – people revere it, cherish it, talk about it to their city friends, their city friends come to Wakefield just to get a taste. It’s natural, clean, cold, delicious and free. It’s a valued necessity to residents, cottagers and visitors. Rich or poor, newbie or long-time local; the spring’s value cuts across boundaries. To ruin it would be an unforgiveable act.

The letter-writing campaign to various levels of government has begun. A suggestion: any angry demands to protect the spring (and any other aspect deemed important) should be start with a “please”. The opening sentence should start with a “thank you”, for spending all that money and finally make good on a promise made to this community some 30 years ago.

{ 2 trackbacks }

NEWS: Does the Highway 5 extension threaten the Wakefield spring?
05.31.10 at 8:20 am
NEWS: Wakefield aquifer threat untaps wellspring of concern
06.14.10 at 9:03 am

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