---- Open Letter to Minister Wilkinson
I urge you to investigate a possible breach of the Species at Risk Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act inside Gatineau Park.
At issue is the unauthorized construction of a bridge in the habitat of the Blanding’s turtle, September, 2020. The bridge spans the ruisseau de la Loutre, on chemin Pellerin, in the Municipality of Pontiac. According to the National Capital Commission (NCC), this sector of Gatineau Park is habitat to one of the only populations of Blanding’s turtles in Quebec.
The municipality of Pontiac reports (October 15) no municipal building permit issued for this project, which appears to be a violation of section 4.2.1 of by-law 176-01, requiring a municipal permit for such construction.
December 21, 2020, Environment Quebec confirmed no certificate of authorization issued for construction of the bridge, as required by the Quebec Environment Quality Act, section 22 paragraph 2. Environment Quebec also confirmed that neither the municipality nor the MRC des Collines had issued certificates of conformity for this project, also required by the Environmental Quality Act.
The bridge is on NCC property, hence any construction work requires approval of the board of directors (Section 12 (1)(b) of the National Capital Act). The NCC has refused to answer questions as to whether this project received federal land-use approval and whether it conducted a legal environmental assessment. As well, the NCC has imposed a four-month extension on my access to information request regarding this bridge. I am forced to conclude that the project received no federal land-use approval and no environmental assessment.
With no municipal permit nor provincial authorization, and with no federal land-use approval, I urge you to launch an investigation. Environment Quebec has confirmed that the Centre de contrôle environnemental de l’Outaouais is looking into the matter. Attached are photos of the bridge. (Edited)