Letter of the week
In response to the article ‘Forward With Amos’, I take strong exception to MP Will Amos’s claim that private land ownership in Gatineau Park does not diminish environmental quality (Low Down, Nov. 6). That is totally incorrect, as the overwhelming evidence proves beyond the shadow of a doubt.
Every Gatineau Park master plan ever written, the Ecosystem Conservation Plan, several NCC reports and studies confirm that private properties diminish and destroy environmental quality, fragment habitat, and do untold harm to flora and fauna. MP Amos defends private landowners by referring to their ancestry, dismissing the damage they do by saying that many of their Meech Lake homes “have been owned by three generations.” As if that excuses their harming the environment and invading what is primarily a public space.
“These are our neighbours,” he says. Well, my neighbours don’t build on a park’s lakebed, and they don’t pressure the federal government to close Blanchet Beach or the boat launch, as the Meech Lake Association has done for decades. Perhaps Mr. Amos is distorting the facts because Meech Lake residents contributed thousands of dollars to his various campaigns. That’s what the National Post’s site ‘Follow the Money’ confirms.
As well, I have to wonder whether those contributions had anything to do with the NCC’s granting occupation permits to 60 Meech Lake residents who built their docks, walls, cabins, boathouses, and flower beds on Gatineau Park property. The park director did this in 2018, without permission from the board of directors.
The Ecosystem Conservation Plan seriously frowns on such encroachment permits and private property developments. In fact, that plan describes the damage private lands do to the park several times, underlining that “development and private properties” are among the “three main stressors” that are “responsible for damage to aquatic ecosystems” (Appendix 3–4).
As well, the Conservation Plan provides a detailed list of the harm done: “The presence of private properties places stress on the host environment in the form of water pollution, proliferation of cyanobacteria, habitat fragmentation and the erosion of riparian habitats... And urban development has also increased pressure on the natural environment” (p. 65).
All the evidence, and basic common sense, point to only one conclusion: private properties do harm to the environment and are not consistent with the mission of Gatineau Park. I don’t understand why the reporter didn’t challenge Amos’s indefensible claim on this.