NCC Watch

Working to consign the NCC to oblivion

Search string: "mcconnell"

Matches found: 36

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

NCC looks at reducing cars in Gatineau Park

Having spent the last 40 years building roads in Gatineau Park, capped by the freshly built McConnell-Laramee freeway - the NCC's self-styled "Gateway to Gatineau Park" - the NCC now wonders how to reduce the number of cars in the park. From the CBC:

Park director Marie Boulet said giving visitors transit alternatives would be good for the heavily used green space.

"It is not uncommon that we have real traffic congestion in the park," she said. "We're concerned with the impact motor vehicles can have on the park environment. But also on the recreational experience in the park."

Boulet said the NCC is currently gathering data in order to come up with alternatives to cars, which could include building transit links inside the park.

CBC: NCC hopes transit can cut traffic in Gatineau Park [21 July 2009]
Citizen: Environmental group calls for limit on cars in Gatineau Park [17 Sep 2009]

Monday, July 28, 2008

National parks cost too much

So apparently making Gatineau Park into a national park would cost a lot more than keeping it as an informal park for all Canadians:

Turning Gatineau Park into a national park managed by Parks Canada would cost taxpayers a "significantly more" [sic] each year than the amount being spent on the park now by the National Capital Commission, says a government memo obtained by CBC News.

"Simply transferring the operating budget for the Park from the NCC to Parks Canada would not be sufficient," said the document dated April 21 obtained through an access to information request.

[...]The document was written by Parks Canada CEO Alan Latourelle in response to calls from activists with the Canadian Park and Wilderness Society [sic] to transform Gatineau Park, which is mostly owned by the federal government, into a national park.

The predicted higher costs under Parks Canada management are caused by the standards that national parks must meet under guidelines set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, including maintaining the "ecological integrity" of the park.

The memo said maintaining the ecological integrity of Gatineau Park would be a challenge due to the increasing roads and private property in and around the park and growing demands by users such as mountain bikers and snowmobile clubs.

How much more they don't say. The price of building a freeway through the park, perhaps?

McConnell-Laramee freeway

CBC: Gatineau Park would cost 'significantly more' as national park [28 July 2008]

Monday, April 21, 2008

Group argues for legal protection of Gatineau Park

The Ottawa Valley chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is making a push to have Gatineau Park protected. From the Citizen:

On Monday the Ottawa Valley chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society released a new booklet arguing for legal protection of Gatineau Park and for its establishment as a national park.

To make its point, the organization took reporters to Meech Lake Valley, where the nearby extension of Highway 5, carving road out of the countryside, is an ugly backdrop to the spectacular scenery of Meech Creek and its surrounding rolling hills.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Ottawa Valley Chapter, has prepared a a report entitled "Gatineau Park: A Threatened Treasure", which urges governments at all levels to develop a comprehensive strategy on the future of the park that respects the sensitive ecology and controls future development.

[...]Gatineau Park, 361 square kilometres of natural beauty, is most immediately threatened by roads, traffic and new development, says the Parks and Wilderness Society. The extension of the McConnell-Laramee Boulevard, now known as Boulevard des Allumettieres, cut a swath through the park near Lac des Fees and was a huge disappointment to conservationists. They worry about the next big road battle over the park: the extension of Highway 50 through the park south of Pink Lake.

[...]Today, to mark Earth Day, Paul Dewar, the New Democratic MP for Ottawa Centre, plans to launch a petition campaign at the Gatineau Park welcome centre to have the park protected under federal law. Mr. Dewar is also planning to reintroduce a private member's bill into the House of Commons that would require that Parliament approve changes to the park's boundaries and give the NCC first rights to purchase property within the park that comes up for sale.

The NCC, making great strides, recently figured out the boundaries of the park.

Citizen: Group argues for legal protection of Gatineau Park [21 Apr 2008]
CPAWS-OV: News Centre [21 Apr 2008]
CBC: New law needed to protect Gatineau Park from builders [9 Apr 2008]
CBC: Gatineau Park group calls for development freeze [8 Apr 2008]
Paul Dewar: Community Campaign to Protect Gatineau Park [22 Apr 2008]
Citizen: Cannon backs development freeze in Park [1 Apr 2008]

Monday, October 17, 2005

Construction to begin on final segment of McConnell-Laramee

Construction begins this week on the final segment of the McConnell-Laramee freeway, the bit that cuts through that "integral and defining element of Canada's Capital Region (ref)," Gatineau Park.

Saturday, May 7, 2005

NCC approves its own Gatineau Park Master Plan

The NCC has approved its own Gatineau Park Master Plan. Chairman Beaudry claimed increased emphasis on conservation, but no mention was made of increased user fees or limits on cars in the park, both mooted previously. And yes, the McConnell-Laramee freeway will still be built.

Citizen: NCC shifts focus of Gatineau Park to conservation [7 May 2005]

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Why Gatineau Park Should be Nationalized

Under the NCC's management, Gatineau Park has been subject to road-building schemes and the sell off of various properties. What most people don't realize is that the Park is not formally protected - it's just another property owned by the NCC, to dispose of as they see fit. And the NCC has a history of declaring properties "surplus" to its requirements and selling them, generally to the surprise of nearby residents. Which is why the New Woodlands Preservation League, among others, advocates formal legal protection for the park - with or without the NCC.


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Dion considers taking Gatineau Park away from NCC

Federal Environment Minister Stephane Dion said he would look at giving Gatineau Park some sort of special protection - either as a national park or giving it legal protection. Dion was speaking before a Senate energy and environment committee. The National Capital Commission remains resolutely opposed to any change in the park's status as its own fiefdom. While Dion gave no guarantees, park watchers responded positively to his statement.

The NCC has long since lost credibility on its ability to protect the park, in no small part due to the various road building projects they've sponsored over the years, including the McConnell-Laramee freeway and the Mackenzie King Estate access road built in 2003.

Citizen: Minister considers taking Gatineau Park away from NCC [15 Feb 2005]
Radio-Canada: Le Parc de la Gatineau pourrait devenir parc national [15 Feb 2005]
Radio-Canada: Des écologistes veulent que le parc de la Gatineau soit mieux protégé[21 Feb 2005]
Citizen: Protecting Gatineau Park [4 Sep 2004]

Friday, February 7, 2005

Protesters planning to block NCC road

The Citizen reports today that Aylmer ecologist Ian Huggett is recruiting "tree-sitters" and other protesters to stop the construction of the McConnell-Laramee freeway through Gatineau Park. The Quebec government is spending $12 million this year to build the road between Lac-des-Fees and St-Laurent, with the Federal government sharing the tab. No schedule has been set for the section through the park itself.

The NCC has long supported the road, Chairman Beaudry himself stating that he wants this road to be part of his legacy. With typical government efficiency, the corridor for the road through Wrightville was expropriated, the houses demolished and the land left vacant in 1973.

Radio-Canada: Le financement est assuré [18 May 2005]

Friday, October 15, 2004

NCC to restrict use of Gatineau Park

Is that before or after they build the freeway through it?

The NCC will hold two meetings about its latest master plan: Wednesday 27 Oct at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and Thursday 28 Oct at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Written comments will be accepted up to Nov 30.

CBC: NCC to restrict use of Gatineau Park [15 Oct 2004]
NCC Gatineau Master Plan page
CPAWS: Gatineau Park page
CPAWS: McConnell-Laramee freeway [2 Jun 2003]
Citizen: Protecting Gatineau Park [4 Sep 2004]
CBC: NCC gets earful on Gatineau Park plan [29 Oct 2004]

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

CPAWS renews campaign to protect Gatineau Park

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is renewing its campaign to get Gatineau Park legal protection similar to that of national and provincial parks. Currently, there is no law preventing the National Capital Commission (NCC) from logging or inappropriately developing the park or selling off park property. "One of the greatest threats to the park is the ongoing destruction and fragmentation of habitat by roads, such as the access road constructed last year through the Mackenzie King Estate, the recently approved McConnell-Laramee boulevard, and the proposed Deschenes highway which would cut through the park near Pink Lake."

CPAWS: Group calls on new Heritage Minister to protect Gatineau Park [7 Sep 2004]
CPAWS: Letter to Heritage Minister Liza Frulla [7 Sep 2004]
CPAWS: Gatineau Park backgrounder

Friday, May 7, 2004

Entrance fees for Gatineau Park

An NCC report is recommending an entrance fee for Gatineau Park - $4 per person up to a maximum of $8 per vehicle. Marcel Beaudry was careful to point out that this will help reduce the number of cars coming to the park and, as a result, pollution. All well and good. But, as usual, the NCC is saying one thing, and doing another. You see, the NCC, dismayed that the park is currently "reached with difficulty through a maze of regional roads," has plans to "encourage visitors to travel DIRECTLY into the Park via a broad, landscaped boulevard that goes straight from Confederation Boulevard in downtown Hull to the Gatineau Parkway" (quoted from the NCC website).

The landscaped boulevard is, of course, the McConnell-Laramee freeway, which the NCC has been planning for decades. Together with the recently constructed Mackenzie King Estate access road, the NCC's road-building schemes tend to suggest that the NCC's goals are in no way related to discouraging automobile use. The fee proposal is simply a cash grab from an overlarge bureaucracy working at cross-purposes with itself.

A curious side effect of Park fees will please environmentalists: apparently the NCC cannot legally charge fees unless the Park is given protected status, something environmentalists have been lobbying for for years.

CBC: Entrance fees floated for Gatineau Park [7 May 2004]
Radio-Canada: Deux députés s'opposent au droits d'entrée [7 May 2004]
Ottawa Citizen Sound Off: Let drivers pay a park fee [10 May 2004]

Tuesday, April 21, 2004

Quebec ready to spend on McConnell-Laramee

Big plans to spend on roads this summer from the Quebec Government, including 9 million to finish McConnell-Laramee from Saint-Laurent to Saint-Joseph. The next stage will extend to Lac de Fees, and eventually on through Gatineau Park, with the NCC's full encouragement.

CBC: $1B in summer roadwork for Quebec [21 Apr 2004]
Radio-Canada: Petits prolongements de la 50 et de Laramee [20 Apr 2004]

Friday, November 14, 2003

NCC must commit to protect Gatineau Park

Aylmer writer Ian Huggett argues in the Citizen that the money the NCC is throwing away on monoliths on Island Park Drive would be better spent acquiring new land for Gatineau Park:

Projects that are high-profile and conspicuous, yet superfluous, are gobbling limited funds at the cost of purchasing woodlands west of Gatineau Park. Recent expenditures on capital projects such as the million-dollar replacement of the facade at the Daly site on Sussex Drive or the $250,000 monoliths marking the entrance to Island Park Drive could be better spent purchasing woodlands to complete the park's western boundary.

Twenty to 30 square kilometres of forest could be acquired, extending the park to Wolf Lake Road between the hamlets of Ruthledge to the north and North Onslow to the south. Woodlots in the Pontiac run between $280 an acre and $500. The million-dollar price tag of the recently completed Mackenzie King Estate access road could have purchased an additional 5,000 acres to help absorb the exponential increase in park visitors. Every year 500 new homes are built abutting the park in the Gateway sector, in the southerly confines of the park in Hull.

Ottawa and Gatineau residents drive to the park in increasing numbers merely to get outdoors, as their green spaces such as Moffatt Farm in Ottawa and Fraser's Field in Aylmer are sacrificed to development.

The NCC is managing our assets by a law of diminishing returns. Chairman Marcel Beaudry is wrong in asserting that the NCC owns land in the capital on behalf of all Canadians. The commission merely acts as a steward -- and our steward is acting like a peacock. The majority of Canadians have voiced their opposition on the hungry consumption of every last piece of open space.

[...]It's a matter of values and priorities. To curry favor with a cynical public, resources are injected into frivolous visible icons such as the pretentious cairns along Island Park Drive, where several thousand commuters a day can goggle at their architectural incongruity while lining up to cross Champlain Bridge. Conversely, spectators are sparse in the remote sectors of Gatineau Park, where 30 square kilometres of forest could easily be added to the park.

[...]Gatineau Park continues to be eroded by new roads that dissect sections of the park. Dismembered sections fall into hands of the private sector, such as the Vorlage ski hill in Wakefield, land behind Wakefield School, the field beneath Champlain Lookout, and property south of the McConnell-Laramee highway. Despite a hypothetical priority list of properties that the commission targets for acquisition, there are no funds allocated to purchase private land in or around the park when it is placed on the open market. A private log cottage on Lac Lapeche, inside the park's high-conservation zone, was sold a few years ago to a private buyer after the park was given first dibs to buy. A hobby farm including 50 acres bordering the park at Lac Philippe is on the open market, with no attempt by the NCC to purchase the $160,000 property.

Citizen: NCC must commit to protect Gatineau Park [14 Nov 2003]
Citizen: Let's enhance this NCC gem [17 Nov 2003]

Monday, September 22, 2003

McConnell-Laramee construction starts this week

Work on the section linking St Laurent to St Joseph starts this week. The total cost of the "Gateway through Gatineau Park" will be 70 million (up from 55 million). The Quebec government now plans to finish the project in 2005.

Radio-Canada: Le boulevard Laramée coûtera 70 millions de dollars [22 Sep 2003]
Transport Canada: Press Release [22 Sep 2003]

Friday, August 29, 2003

Feds approve McConnell-Laramee

The federal government has approved the final environmental assessment for McConnell-Laramee freeway, allowing the final section of the four-lane road between Aylmer and downtown Hull through Gatineau Park to proceed.

Radio-Canada: Accord pour le parachèvement de l'autoroute McConnell-Laramée [29 Aug 2003]

Monday, July 14, 2003

Quebec wants to cooperate with the NCC

The new Quebec government wants to cooperate with the NCC. This appears to amount to finishing a highway project conceived 30 years ago (McConnell-Laramee) -- that's original thinking for you. So get out those ribbon cutters, boys, we're going to build some serious infrastructure!

CBC: Quebec Liberals seek NCC co-operation [14 Jul 2003]
Radio-Canada: Rencontre au sommet entre Beaudry et Pelletier [14 Jul 2003]

Friday, June 20, 2003

400 metres of McConnell-Laramee approved

The Quebec Ministry of Transport has authorized the first 400 metres of the McConnell-Laramee extension, linking St Laurent with St Joseph. Total cost 17 million, to be shared by the federal and provincial governments. No word on the other three kilometres through Gatineau Park. However, the NCC remains keen to add "driving through at high speed" to the list of Gatineau Park's "high-quality experiences" offered to the public, and as soon as possible.

Radio-Canada: Les premiers 400 mètres de l'autoroute Laramée [20 Jun 2003]

Thursday, June 5, 2003

Transport releases Laramee environmental assessment

Prepared jointly with the National Capital Commission. And what does the NCC think of the highway? "For its part, the NCC also takes the view that the boulevard is not likely to have a significant negative environmental impact. As manager of federal lands not subject to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the NCC may therefore proceed to issue permits and approvals." Oh, well, that's alright then.

The public has until June 19 to comment on the report.

For information and easy ways to comment, visit the CPAWS news page.

Or send a fax to the Minister of Transportation online.

Transport Canada: Government of Canada ReleasesEnvironmental Assessment Report on McConnell-Laramee [5 Jun 2003]
Transport Canada: Laramee Environmental Assessment Report [5 Jun 2003]
CBC: Gatineau's east-west highway approved [9 Jun 2003]

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Laramee halted

The Quebec government has put the McConnell-Laramee freeway on hold, along with all other projects at the Ministry of Transport while they reevaluate their spending.

Radio-Canada: Autoroute Laramée reportée [5 Jun 2003]
CBC: Gatineau-Montreal highway link at risk [5 Jun 2003]
Environmental Assessment Report on McConnell-LarameeBlvd. released [5 Jun 2003]

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Group to present case to give Gatineau national park status

The recently formed Coalition for the Survival of Gatineau Park will present Parks Canada with a formal written proposal next week to give national park status to Gatineau Park:

The Coalition [...] says that under the current management by the National Capital Commission, a federal agency, the mandate to protect the park is unclear. National park status would lay out in detail how the park can be protected, the group says.

The coalition is concerned about projects such as the new access road for the Mackenzie King Estate, the McConnell-Laramee Highway linking Aylmer and Hull, and increased human traffic into the park which the coalition believes will degrade the environment in and around the park, said Nicole Desroches of the Council on the Environment and Sustainable Development of the Outaouais.

'If you make it easier for cars, therefore you will have more cars and then you are going to need another parking lot," said Ms. Desroches.

Citizen: Group to present case to give Gatineau national park status [10 May 2003]

Thursday, May 1, 2003

Group wants Gatineau Park protected

With the impending construction of the McConnell-Laramee freeway and the Mackenzie King Estate access road, a new coalition of environmental groups is calling on the federal government to protect the park with new legislation:

Jean Langlois calls the NCC's management and development of Gatineau Park short-sighted and "death by a thousand cuts."

"Under the current direction we're going, 100 years from now we're not going to have a natural park left," says Langlois, director of the Ottawa Valley chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

[...]Langlois says there are three options: national park status; new legislation limiting the NCC's hold on the park; an act of parliament to create a whole new classification for Gatineau Park.

[...]Instead of pushing for national status, the NCC is urging the coalition to take part in its consultations. The master plan for Gatineau Park is being revised, and the NCC says it's willing to listen.

The group is calling itself The Coalition for the Survival of Gatineau Park, and has already received vocal support from Jack Layton and the NDP.

CBC: Protect Gatineau Park for good, coalition urges [1 May 2003]
CPAWS: Make your voice heard [1 May 2003]
Radio-Canada: Meilleure protection pour le parc de la Gatineau [1 May 2003]
Environmental News Network: Gatineau park: is this the beginning of the end? [1 May 2003]

Thursday, May 1, 2003

Environment minister receives 'mise en demeure'

Meanwhile, residents of the Wright neighbourhood in old Hull are demanding that Quebec's new environment minister stop the McConnell-Laramee freeway. The freeway is one of Chairman Beaudry's favorite projects.

Radio-Canada: Mise en demeure pour stopper McConnell-Laramée [1 May 2003]

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Same plans, different day

Chairman Beaudry spoke of the National Capital Commission's plans at an Orleans Chamber of Commerce networking luncheon. Nothing new here, same plans, same excuses for the LeBreton Flats, Sparks Street, Confederation Boulevard, and the McConnell-Laramee freeway.

OBJ: NCC chief charts out vision of future [26 Mar 2003]

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Gatineau 'Park'? Not really!

An upcoming CPAWS Wilderness Wednesday is featuring an update on the latest developments in Gatineau Park entitled "Gatineau 'Park'? Not really!" They'll be describing new road development such as McConnell-Laramee and the Mackenzie King Estate access road, along with new housing development inside the park. April 2, 2003, 7:15 p.m., Mountain Equipment Co-op, 366 Richmond Road, Ottawa. The talk is free; space is limited, register in advance by calling (Ottawa) 729-2700 or email

Friday, January 31, 2003

NCC approves Gatineau Park road

An NCC Management Committee has approved the million dollar access road to the Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park. This despite Chairman Beaudry stating at the NCC's most recent General Meeting that further studies on the road would be done before approval and widespread criticism that the preliminary environmental screening is inadequate. They aren't wasting any time on this one: the road route was staked late last fall.

Meanwhile, residents of Hull are battling plans by the Quebec Government to allow heavy trucks on that other road through Gatineau Park, the McConnell-Laramee freeway.

CPAWS: Gatineau Park access road info page [30 Jan 2003]
Action Chelsea: Gatineau Park access road info page [30 Jan 2003]
CPAWS: Speak out against new road in Gatineau Park [April 2003]
Radio Canada: Les opposants aux camions lourd sur l'axe McConnell-Laramee [12 Feb 2003]
Minister's response to McConnell-Laramee petition [14 June 2001]

Thursday, November 28, 2002

NCC facelift for Hull roads

The NCC is throwing in $7 million towards making St. Laurent and Maisonneuve boulevards less ugly. That means granite curbs, ornamental light standards, landscaped median strips, and poster collars. The article is a bit misleading however, when it says "from Parliament to Gatineau." That should read from Parliament through Gatineau, as St Laurent is simply one end of the McConnell-Laramee freeway.

CBC: Boulevards for the hills: from Parliament to Gatineau [28 Nov 2002]
Radio-Canada: La CCN veut améliorer l'esthétisme des boulevards de Hull [28 Nov 2002]

Friday, November 22, 2002

Gatineau Park Master Plan Review meeting

Apparently, the NCC is reviewing its Gatineau Park Master Plan. The "public consultation" will take place from 5 pm to 9 pm on two nights: mostly in English, on Tuesday November 26, 2002 at the National Gallery of Canada; and mostly in French, on Wednesday November 27, 2002 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. There will be a Q and A session, so be sure to get up there and ask 'em about all the new roads they're planning, like the McConnell-Laramee freeway and Mackenzie King Estate access road.

Citizen: Traffic jam in the park [16 Oct 2002]

Friday, August 9, 2002

NCC roundly criticized over Gatineau Park

An editorial in the Citizen by Stephen Hazell, Executive Director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, outlines some of the NCC's failures:

New roads such as the Laramee-McConnell connection and Mackenzie King Estate access road, along with new housing development inside the park and on its periphery, continue to fragment wildlife habitat. Exploding levels of trail use by bicyclists, skiers, all-terrain vehicle riders, snowmobilers, rock climbers and hikers also increase the stress on ecosystems. If Gatineau Park was a national park, it would be on the critically endangered list.

National parks are protected by law, but not Gatineau Park. Incredibly, Parliament has enacted no law governing how land in the park is to be used. The NCC owns most of the land in the park and thus has some control over development. But decisions to build new roads or expand skiing facilities are made at the discretion of the NCC and in secret. And without a governing statute, the NCC lacks the tools to properly manage the park, even if it wanted to.

Hazell notes that Public consultations are under way for a new Gatineau Park Master Plan. CPAWS would like to see legislation that would make the park more like a real national park (as opposed to an NCC fiefdom). The NCC is currently backing a plan to build the McConnell-Laramee freeway through the park.

CPAWS: Let's Protect Our National Treasure [6 Aug 2002]
CPAWS April 2002 submission to the NCC's Board of Directors
CPAWS Update on the McConnell-Laramee Road Through Gatineau Park

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Senators question NCC's land dealings

Some Senators are pushing to amend the federal legislation governing the NCC to stop the agency from selling lands to private developers. The NCC claims that if they can't sell land, they'll need a hefty boost to their appropriation to make up for it. Quote of the day: "To reconstruct a heritage bridge or to maintain a beautiful Gatineau park, it all takes funds." Last time we checked, the Quebec Government was going to pay to put that freeway through the park, so what's the problem? Chairman Beaudry gets to make his case early next month, when he appears before the Senate's Standing Committee on National Finance.

NCCWatch Opinion: Be careful what you ask for. An NCC that isn't forced to sell land to pay for its projects is more unaccountable than one that doesn't. At least now they have to face an outraged public and city zoning bylaws. Giving the NCC a blank cheque will not solve the fundamental problems of the NCC: arrogance and unaccountability. We maintain that the NCC should be abolished, full stop.

CBC: Senators question NCC's land dealings [23 May 2002]

Friday, November 23, 2001

Quebec government approves highway through Gatineau Park

The Quebec government has approved the construction of the McConnell-Laramee autoroute through Gatineau Park. The project still requires federal approval, and a federal Environmental Assessment screening report is expected to be released within a few weeks. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society opposes the road, noting in particular the lack of a cumulative impact assessment to determine the impact the cumulative fragmentation of Gatineau Park caused by existing, new, and future roads, noting that "this would be the 4th road transecting the park in its southernmost 3 kilometres, adding up to devastating fragmentation."

CPAWS: Quebec government approves highway extension through Gatineau Park [23 Nov 2001]
CBC: New crosstown road for new Gatineau [23 Nov 2001]

Friday, November 9, 2001

Quebec Government taken to court over McConnell-Laramee highway

Meanwhile, the Committee for the Environmental Assessment of the McConnell-Laramee Highway is taking the Quebec Government to court to force a proper environmental assessment of the NCC's favorite road building scheme, the McConnell-Laramee highway. At stake is the health of Gatineau Park, which the highway will bisect, and downtown Hull, already the victim of huge expropriations in the 1970's.

Info-Laramee (in French) - includes a history of this misguided project
NCC Watch: McConnell-Laramee news items
BAPE: 1989 CritiqueOn The Proposed McConnell-Laramee Extension [Acrobat format]
BAPE: 2001 Report on the project [Acrobat format]
Canadian Heritage: Minister's Response to petition regarding Leamy Lake golf course [30 Oct 2001]

Monday, November 5, 2001

Critique On The Proposed McConnell-Laramee Extension

As the National Capital Commission continues with its plans to plow the McConnell-Laramee expressway through Gatineau Park, a damning critique presented at hearings held by the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement on the proposed highway in April 2001 raises a few good questions. The NCC, strongly in favor of building the expressway, coyly refers to it as a gateway to Gatineau Park, even as the finished road will neatly bisect the park. The NCC's current position is in direct conflict with the recommendations in a study it commissioned in 1994, and its continuing mania to build this highway is just one more reason to abolish the NCC.

BAPE: 1989 Critique On The Proposed McConnell-Laramee Extension [Acrobat format]

Friday, October 26, 2001

Union opposes casino golf course

The public service union of Quebec says the province's Environment Department should never have approved a golf course at Leamy Lake without consulting staff and the public.

For information on the Coalition to Protect Leamy Lake Park, contact CREDDO (Conseil regional de l'environnement et du developpement durable de l'Outaouais) at Website (French) at (note: incompatible with some browsers). The website also includes information on the McConnell-Laramee freeway project.

CBC: Union opposes casino golf course [26 Oct 2001]

Wednesday, April 25, 2001

NCC is failing Gatineau Park

Area conservationist Ian Huggett writes about the NCC's road building schemes in the Citizen:

Park planners predicted in 1992 that pressures from urban encroachment along the park's southern boundaries would make its continued protection problematic. The Gateway sector has evolved into a management liability. Planners reasoned that if external pressures exceed the ability of park administrators to protect natural resources, it would be better to relinquish this sector by developing it intensively.

An NCC plan was devised in 1992 to develop the park's Gateway sector south of Gamelin Boulevard, using a so-called "tamed nature" concept. Parking lots, hardened walkways and an amphitheatre were planned. Public opposition at the time was fierce.

The NCC shelved the project, waiting for an appropriate opportunity to revitalize the plan. The planned extension of the McConnell-Laramee highway through the park provided its long awaited Messiah.

Sacrificing the Gateway sector, however, is an abdication of responsibility, an admission of the NCC's inability to manage the park's natural heritage in the face of mounting urban encroachment. Unfortunately, Gatineau Park is a federal park only by name -- it remains without legislated protection. Park staff admit that no comprehensive life science inventories exist for the disputed area. They insist that even if "species at risk" are eventually discovered, they can be dug up and planted outside the highway corridor, reducing the park to an arboretum.

Why blame the NCC, assuming that the highway's initiative originated with the Quebec Transport Ministry? Original studies examining alternative routes had strongly favoured using Gamelin Boulevard to traverse the park. It was determined to be more direct and considerably cheaper.

But the NCC, apparently adamant to realize its "tamed nature" project, devised superfluous, nonsensical reasons why the Gamelin option was unsuitable, such as that it didn't optimally serve the two residential sectors of des Trembles and du Plateau bordering the park's western flank. What better mechanism than a four-lane highway to serve as a new formal entrance to channel tourists into the park?

The National Capital Commission is squandering any public confidence it has gained over the past decade with improved transparency and public participation. Public apathy is partly to blame. We, who allow these atrocities to unfold unchallenged, perpetuate the government's self-aggrandizing destruction of our natural heritage.

Citizen: NCC is failing Gatineau Park [25 April 2001]

Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Unique area threatened by NCC road

The NCC's planned extension of the McConnell-Laramee Highway through Gatineau Park in Hull will destroy some of the largest white pine trees in Eastern Canada. Despite their noble aspirations to "safeguard the Capital's national treasures, the numerous sites of great prestige and public interest that are held in trust for future generations of Canadians," the NCC has always put roads and golf courses before conservation. Despite the NCC's waffling that the "plans for the highway in Gatineau Park are not final," Marcel Beaudry has stated in the past that he wants this road to be part of his legacy.

Citizen: NCC road will kill 'whole ecosystem' [18 April 2001]
Citizen letter: Gatineau Park can't survive repeated road incursions [1 May 2001]
Citizen letter: Gatineau Park road is a highway to natural disaster [2 May 2001]

Wednesday, March 1, 2000

Freeway through Gatineau Park delayed

The McConnell-Laramee highway extension has been delayed:

A planned new "urban boulevard" from Ottawa to Gatineau Park is delayed indefinitely by environmental concerns and feuding among communities in or near its path.

The federal and Quebec governments have agreed to evenly split the $32-million cost of the boulevard. It would run from the Alexandra Bridge through commercial and residential sections of Hull to a point near the park's southern boundary.

Quebec Transport Minister Guy Chevrette had hoped work on the boulevard would begin last year and be completed by late 2001. But the start is delayed at least until this fall to permit further study of its environmental impact, according to federal officials.

Pierre Dube, chief urban planner for the National Capital Commission, which strongly favours construction of the boulevard, does not expect the road to be completed until 2004. And he bases that estimate on the hope environmental approval will come in time for work to begin this fall.

"First we have to deal with the environmental issues, he says. "Then we have to carry out major engineering projects, including a viaduct over marshland in Gatineau Park." The viaduct will cost $12 million, or more than one-third the total cost of the new road.

[...]Plans for the new boulevard have existed for almost 30 years. In the early 1970s, dozens of modest houses in central Hull were expropriated and demolished to clear a path for the road.

The demolitions created a wasteland the width of a city block, stretching eight blocks from St. Joseph Boulevard in the heart of downtown Hull to Promenade du Lac des Fees on the edge of Gatineau Park.

Proponents of the planned boulevard say anyone who bought property in the area in the last 25 years knew a busy road would eventually be built through their neighbourhood.

The planned boulevard is a key element in the National Capital Commission's proposals for creating a more beautiful and inviting capital region. NCC chairman Marcel Beaudry says he wants it to be part of his legacy.

Some critics of the plan have suggested a connection between construction of the boulevard and the NCC's decision last year to turn over part of Leamy Lake Park in Hull for a commercial golf course.

The Quebec government will create the golf course next to the Hull Casino to encourage tourists to combine a golfing vacation with gambling in the casino, also owned by the province.

Mr. Beaudry says there is no connection between the NCC's decision to hand over land for the golf course and Quebec's agreement to go ahead with the new boulevard.

A stretch of the planned urban boulevard already exists. It is St. Laurent Boulevard, running from the Alexandra Bridge west to Highway 50 in central Hull.

Mr. Dube said plans call for a new three-kilometre stretch to be built, extending the boulevard west through Hull and across the southern part of Gatineau Park to Mountain Road.

The new road would link up with the highway that runs from Aylmer to Mountain Road. The new boulevard would connect the highway from Aylmer with Highway 50, leading to Montreal, and provide a shortcut through Hull.

The NCC says the planned road is an urban boulevard, not a parkway. As such, it says it has no objection to trucks using the boulevard.

Citizen: Boulevard plan divides Quebec neighbours [1 Mar 2000]