Over the last months, Gatineau Park has attracted wide attention from citizens,
wilderness groups and parliamentarians, which gives hope to all those who care
about its future.
In early June, Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne took part in a guided tour of the
park. On social media, she underlined her concern about the 133 houses built
there since 1992, and she raised a question on this in the Senate on June 25,
arguing that, “Parliament should act by giving Gatineau Park official status
through legislation.” The senator noted that her interest stemmed, in part, from the park’s location in the senatorial division of Inkerman, which she represents. “As a child, I skied and swam there. As a journalist, I cooled my heels at Meech Lake, while
waiting for the premiers and prime minister [during a federal-provincial
conference],” wrote the senator in a Facebook post.
Senator Miville-Dechêne has had a distinguished career as a journalist and
foreign correspondent; I think she’ll be the champion Gatineau Park needs. All
the more so because local MPs are blind to the issue, except maybe
Hull-Aylmer MP Greg Fergus, who tabled a petition from the Canadian Parks and
Wilderness Society in the House of Commons on July 20.
Besides circulating that petition, the Ottawa Valley chapter of CPAWS has been
working on park protection from various angles. For instance, on July 27
they issued a statement condemning construction of the 134th new house in the
park since 1992. “Most of the new construction is in prime wildlife habitat and
recreation areas,” said the statement. “The park’s master plan claims that
acquiring private land is a priority. Now is the time to act on that commitment.
Each tree felled and each private lot carved up by bulldozers reduces the park’s
capacity for protecting its natural environment.” Moreover, in its annual report, CPAWS called on the government to amend the National Capital Act to grant Gatineau Park “the same protections as those afforded other national parks.”
This kind of passion for the park has been evident over the last few months,
likely because people began to realize how precious it is when the NCC started
locking them out in all kinds of ways due to the pandemic. However I’m left wondering why Pontiac MP Will Amos isn’t responding to this issue, since most of the park is in his riding. Does he think that building 134 houses in the park since 1992 is a good thing?