Skip to content

Fredericton chapter calls for consultation with Indigenous Peoples on proposed snowmobile trails in provincial park

(From left to right) Clanmother Sharlene Paul, lawyer Gordon Allen, Grand Chief Ron Tremblay, Clanmother Alma Brooks, Fredericton chapter activists Mark D’Arcy and Jean Louis Deveau.

The Council of Canadians Fredericton chapter supports the Wolastoq Grand Council court challenge against proposed snowmobile trails through Mount Carleton Provincial Park, which is located about 230 kilometres north of Fredericton.

Fredericton chapter activist Mark D’Arcy says, “Mount Carleton Provincial Park is New Brunswick’s only designated wilderness park. But now the provincial government has allowed brush clearing of planned snowmobile trails through the park. Earlier this week, the Wolastoq Grand Council asked a judge to rule that the government did not follow their own plans in approving a snowmobile hub project through the park.”

In July, CBC reported, “The former manager of Mount Carleton Park says the New Brunswick government has found a backdoor way to move forward with the proposed snowmobile hub without a park management plan. The provincial government has posted a draft regulation on its website amending the Off-Road Vehicle Act to include a description of the snowmobile hub, which includes a fuelling station and opening up 343 kilometres of trails. Jean-Louis Deveau, the former park manager, said instead of going through the Parks Act, which would require the government to create a park management plan, the provincial government has used the Off-Road Vehicle Act to enact the hub.”

Deveau, who is also a member of the Fredericton chapter, says, “[Using the Off-Road Vehicle Act] circumvents the complexities [of going] through the front door, which is with consultations in developing a management plan… It’s a brilliant strategy on the part of the government, but it’s a slap in the face.”

In September, CBC reported, “Archeologists have uncovered 26 artifacts, some which could be about 6,000 years old, during the bridge replacement at Mount Carleton Provincial Park. Archeologists found 26 artifacts around Bathurst Lake and Moose Brook — located at the site where two bridges are slated for replacement and part of a controversial snowmobile hub and trail development proposed for the wilderness park. According to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, the bridges have been removed, and the new ones will soon be put in. The Maliseet Grand Council filed for a judicial review of the snowmobile hub and trails to try and stop the government’s plan.”

Wolastoq Grand Chief Ron Tremblay says the bridges are being constructed on sacred ground. He says, “We’re asking the court to respect that territory and put all stop to the development there because we hold that land sacred. Personally, I want to educate the province on the proper way to consult our people before moving forward and most of all to respect the peace and friendship treaties.”

In October, CBC also reported, “[Friends of Mount Carleton] attempted to share their concerns with every hiker they met in the park on Saturday [October 15]. Protestors set up signs, handed out literature and stopped to talk with each hiker entering, or exiting, the mountain trail. The group has been speaking out for months about plans to cut a new trail for snowmobiles to climb the highest mountain in the Maritimes, and expand a lot for parking the machines near the summit.

D’Arcy says, “On November 17th, the Wolastoq Grand Council asked for the final bridge construction in Mount Carleton to be stopped until the case was presented in court on Nov. 30th. They were denied because the judge ruled that the delay would not cause irreparable harm.”

The court challenge heard on November 30 says the lack of a resource management plan violates the Parks Act, that the province’s plan doesn’t protect the park’s ecosystem and biodiversity, that an environmental assessment should have been carried out, and asks the court to set aside all work permits until the duty to consult with First Nations has been satisfied and an environmental assessment has been completed.

D’Arcy tells us, “To date, a GoFundMe campaign has raised over $17,000 of the $25,000 goal to help cover court costs.”