----- Gatineau Park, moving backwards?
MP Greg Fergus will soon host a virtual town-hall meeting on Gatineau Park. That’s good news. Such a town hall will be an excellent opportunity to discuss the new Gatineau Park Master Plan, which has some good things, and some very bad things. The NCC mentions the need to specify the park’s boundaries and get better data on visitorship. As well, the plan’s arguing for better legislative protection is encouraging.
Unfortunately, the plan represents a complete reversal of NCC policies, commitments and obligations regarding the need to acquire all private lands. From saying previously that private properties harm the environment and are inconsistent with the park’s mission, the NCC now says that park residents are partners, stewards and protectors of the land.
This seems very strange, given the damage private properties have done to the park. One example of this damage is construction of nearly 140 new houses there since 1992; another is closure of Meech Lake three times due to blue-green algae outbreaks (2007, 2009, and 2019). These outbreaks occur because too much phosphorous is discharged into the lake, and studies have confirmed that Meech Lake residents are responsible for 66% of the phosphorous in the water.
Moreover, by referring to residents as partners, stewards and protectors, the new plan totally ignores that the Meech Lake (owners) Association has been pressuring the NCC to close public facilities for decades. Reports of the park director threatening to ban open water swimming over the last summer, under pressure from
residents, confirm that they remain in a state of conflict with the public.
I believe that this draft plan should be given a failing grade, an F, because it betrays the park’s ecological and public missions by reversing its policy on private lands and by supporting more residential development.