Written by Denise Deby.
Gatineau Park is a well-loved and much-visited area. It contains diverse ecosystems and landscapes—including forests, wetlands, an escarpment and 50 lakes—as well as ski and hiking trails, biking, camping, swimming, paddling, heritage and more. It’s also an important home for wildlife, with 50 mammal, 10 reptile, 15 amphibian and 230 bird species, and more than 1000 species of plants and trees. Around 140 are species at risk, including the eastern wolf, the least bittern, eastern red cedars and wild leek.
What’s less well known is that Gatineau Park is not well protected by legislation. The Park itself is at risk.
Threats to Gatineau Park include development of roads, retail and housing around and in the Park, vehicle traffic and human activity, and climate change.
To halt and reverse these trends, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Ottawa Valley chapter (CPAWS-OV) has been campaigning for better protection of Gatineau Park.
Most recently, CPAWS-OV has launched Make It a Real Park, an initiative to protect the Park and connect it to other natural areas to ensure its ecological viability.
CPAWS-OV is calling for:
- Parliament to define Gatineau Park’s boundaries in legislation, and establish it as a national park under the Canada National Parks Act;
- The National Capital Commission, which manages the Park, to treat the Park as an IUCN Class II protected area, to stop the construction of new roads and development in the Park, and to take other actions including acquiring lands outside the Park to serve as buffer zones;
- Municipal governments to protect the Park when planning development and land use.
Here’s what you can do to help:
Find out more about the issue here: http://makeitapark.ca/
Sign this petition, and ask people you know to sign, too: https://secure2.convio.net/cpaws/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=298
Ask Mélanie Joly, the federal minister for Gatineau Park, and your MP, to bring about legislation to make Gatineau Park a protected area;
Contact the mayors of the Pontiac, La Peche, Chelsea and Gatineau, and your municipal councillor, about what they’re doing to protect Gatineau Park.
Contact the NCC about your concerns and ask what they’re doing to protect the Park.
Attend and/or spread the word about the Make It a Real Park Launch on Friday, Mar. 11, 2016 from 7-10 p.m. at Maker House Co., 987 Wellington St. RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1025563204184303/