MUNCIPALITY OF PONTIAC – The National Capital Commission held a public consultation with residents of the Municipality of Pontiac, June 14, at the Marcel Lavigne Community Centre. About 50 people attended, including Mayor Roger Larose and most of council. Assistant Director General, Benedikt Kuhn, gave a brief introduction, mentioning that Gatineau Park represents 45% of the municipality. Dr. Mark Kristmanson, CEO of NCC, opened the meeting by asking for people’s concerns and input.
Ruby Ewen voiced her concerns about the Eardley-Masham road and the high volume of heavy truck traffic speeding and endangering drivers and walkers. Larose explained that Pontiac contractors have pits in La Pêche and use the road, but suggested that speed limits be revised. Sheila McCrindle of the Pontiac Equestrian Association agreed with Ewen; “Part of the equestrian trail uses this road. It must be made safer for non-vehicle traffic.”
Jacques Lizotte complained about the NCC acquiring land and blocking a municipal road. “You can no longer access Lac William from Lac La Pêche,” he said. Marie Boulet, the Director of Gatineau Park, assured the crowd that the NCC is not extending the current boundaries, but does try to buy properties within its boundaries when they are being sold.
Boulet explained the challenge to achieve a balance between access and protection, with Gatineau Park being the most used park in North America. Unofficial trails cause problems, particularly in the ecologically sensitive and fragile escarpment areas.
The existing human use of the park collides with biologists who want to protect wolves and lynx, which control the deer and beaver populations. Tom Tracey said beavers are a nuisance and caused two Highway 148 closures when their dams burst in the last few years. Kristmanson stressed that local knowledge is crucial and that if the wolf and lynx populations are encouraged, they will control beaver populations. Jean Amyotte added that Lac Curley Road is now blocked by a flood caused by a beaver dam.
Gary Lacey, the new Executive Director of Capital Stewardship at NCC, said he will set up a consultation committee and arrange a fact-finding tour in August.
Boulet ended the meeting with a list of NCC projects in the municipality: access to the rock climbing sites while protecting 80 at-risk species and their environment; installing the Ruisseau Chartrand bridge this summer for the horse trail, allowing the trail to be re-opened between Pilon Road and the Luskville Falls car park; stabilizing the slope at the Church Hill parking lot; adding gravel to the entrance road to the Luskville falls parking lot to extend its use in spring and fall; improving the Luskville Falls trail and signage this year; the fire tower will no longer be used for communication; and possibly installing buildings to be used as kiosks for visitor information.