Come 2021 when the work is done on the stretch of road, popular with biker in the summer and cross country skiers in the winter, the NCC and Chelsea say it will remain closed permanently to car traffic, available for use only by non-motorized transport: skis, bikes, inline skates and the like.
Below is the full announcement from the NCC:
The National Capital Commission (NCC) and the Municipality of Chelsea, today announced a major collaboration on the Municipality’s rehabilitation project for Meech Lake Road and the future use of the North Loop, the Gatineau Parkway section between P8 and P9.
As of Spring 2021, after the Municipality has repaired the Meech Lake Road between Gatineau Park lots P8 and P9, the NCC will permanently dedicate the North Loop to non-motorized forms of transportation (e.g. pedestrians, runners, in-line skaters and cyclists). This safe new route will contribute to the Municipality’s goals to ensure that there is a dedicated cycling lane avoiding the need for widening Meech Lake Road which would add both significant additional costs and potentially significant adverse impacts on the Park ecology. This closure will also provide a stretch of the Gatineau Parkway for the exclusive use of all active users.
Over the last decade, the NCC has worked with users, community groups, municipalities, and emergency services on safety concerns on the Parkways and “Share the Road” practices. The NCC continues to encourage all park users to obey speed limits and to respect the rules of the road.
- The Municipality of Chelsea has identified that Meech Lake Road needs major rehabilitation work and has already been studying different construction scenarios, including channeling most non-motorized users towards the North Loop. The Municipality appreciates that some cyclists will choose to continue using Meech Lake Road therefore it will continue studying options for a safe shared route without requiring that it be widened.
- Given the importance of Meech Lake Road as a key access point for the Park, Chelsea remains hopeful that the federal government will contribute financially to the various phases of the project. The Municipality appreciates the ongoing assistance of the NCC in gathering information to make this case to the federal government.
- Closing the North Loop to motorized traffic supports several safety-enhancing transportation measures the NCC began implementing in early 2019, which includes a review of regulations, public outreach, police presence and roadside messaging.
- Motorized vehicles will be permitted to access the North Loop during construction work on Meech Lake Road.
- Gatineau Park is increasingly busy with Park visitors, being the second most visited park in Canada behind Banff. Its Parkways are a way to enjoy the Park during the snow-free period, both as a destination and as a means to access popular sites such as Pink Lake.
- The NCC is currently undergoing a Gatineau Park Master Plan review that will broadly consider other transportation issues inside the Park.