Eco-Watch director Ian Huggett has issued a press release confirming the Occupy Gatineau Park Protest is under way.
To voice their opposition to the Highway 5 extension, Huggett and other concerned citizens will hold a press conference on January 5 at 11:00 a.m. at the end of Brown Lake Road in Wakefield – complete with someone sitting 100 feet up a 200-year old pine tree.
For several months now, environmental groups have been trying to limit the ecological impact of the Highway 5 extension through the park. Efforts have included attempts to convince Transport Quebec to reduce the width of the highway exchange from six lanes to two lanes, and to eliminate one of the two traffic circles.
Those efforts having failed, citizens are now asking for a freeze on construction of the Wakefield section of Highway 5 pending completion of the Chelsea portion.
Below is an edited version of Huggett’s press release.
Wakefield Man Sits in Old-Growth Pine to Protest Hwy 5 Through Gatineau Park
Wakefield, Quebec, January 5, 2012—Critics of the Highway 5 extension erected an “incident command post” in Gatineau Park yesterday to protest clear-cutting and rock blasting by Transport Quebec (MTQ).
Two ancient pine trees cresting Brown Lake Mountain have been roped to accommodate tree-sitters and observation cameras. A Wakefield man is currently sitting 100 hundred feet up a massive pine tree lying in the proposed Highway 5 route off Brown Lake Road in Gatineau Park.
Wakefield residents and local environmental groups failed to negotiate a compromise with the National Capital Commission (NCC) and MTQ to reduce the 150 m wide four-lane highway linking Gatineau to Wakefield. The highway will run through sections of Gatineau Park near Brown Lake in La Pêche.
Critics argue they don’t oppose improved transportation in the region, but believe the highway’s design and configuration needlessly destroy the eastern boundary of Gatineau Park by clearing mature forest, draining wetlands and blasting rock-cuts overlooking Valley Drive.
A formal request was issued last week urging various officials to complete the Chelsea phase of the Highway 5 project before needlessly clearing the spectacular landscape surrounding Wakefield and Gatineau Park. Officials contacted include NCC CEO Marie LeMay (613)239-5271, Environment Quebec (MDDEP) biologist Louis-Philippe Caron (418) 521-3933, Transport Quebec’s Director of Inventory and Planning for the Outaouais Jacques Henry (819) 772-3107 and their political allies.
Opponents warn they will not stand idle and watch Gatineau Park, “the jewel of the National Capital Region,” sacrificed for yet another highway. The A5 is the third major transportation corridor to slice through the park in the past decade. Moreover, there is political pressure to widen the Eardly-Masham Road, straighten Notch Road, and build Deschenes Blvd. – all infrastructure projects proposed inside Gatineau Park.
This media event scheduled for Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 11:00 am will showcase tactics of direct action to prevent construction workers cutting and blasting through Gatineau Park.
Location: Brown Lake Road. Directions: turn left (west) off Hwy 105 onto a hidden side road opposite Rockhurst Road. The turn-off is 200m south of the Gauvin Real-Estate Office just before (south) of the lights at Valley Drive leading to Wakefield.
Information: Anne Winship (819) 459-4452; Ian Huggett (819) 827-3266, cell: (819) 665-2937.
The Gatineau Park Protection Committee, for its part, hopes to attract the attention of politicians to the need to legislate solid boundaries for the park, which the NCC has been changing without informing the public, as well as urge urge parliamentarians to adopt a coherent, ecologically focused and rational land management policy for the park.