Gatineau Park is threatened. Without legislative protection, we are at risk of losing this 361- square-kilometre beacon of environmental diversity to overdevelopment. With over 2.7 million visits each year, Gatineau Park is the most heavily visited park in North America (on a per capita basis) and yet, it is not a real park. Legally, that is.
The extraordinary biodiversity of Gatineau Park is unmatched. With its expansive wilderness being home to 118 rare or endangered species, 50 lakes and numerous wetlands, the park features some of the most diverse ecosystems in Canada. If we hope to share its jaw-dropping beauty with future generations, we all must act – now.
The National Capital Commission has the power to dispose of park lands without parliamentary approval, which they have done previously — by selling portions of the park, thus reducing its area and fragmenting its habitats.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - Ottawa Valley Chapter has called for the legislative protection of Gatineau Park for over 50 years, but the government still has no concrete plans to protect its boundaries.
We must encourage the NCC to prioritize conservation and to preserve the park’s ecological integrity through its management plans. We must put pressure on the federal government to protect Gatineau Park so that it will not be lost to overdevelopment and construction, which is not approved by parliament. Finally, we must raise our voices; we cannot be complacent while the park remains helpless.
John McDonnell is the executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - Ottawa Valley Chapter. He lives in Mayo, QC.