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NEWS: Civil disobedience planned to halt Highway 5 expansion

There are media reports that civil disobedience is now being planned against the Highway 5 expansion near Wakefield, Quebec, just north of Ottawa.

The Ottawa Citizen reports that the Gatineau Park Protection Committee plans to put a platform in a massive 300-year-old white pine with a 19-foot circumference on Brown Lake Road, right where the new highway will pass. Jean-Paul Murray, secretary of the Gatineau Park Protection Committee says they will have “people who are going to camp out, until the work starts” in the next two to three weeks. He adds, “And, when the work starts, we’re planning a demonstration to try and stop it and attract more attention.”


According to the news report, “Other possible action could include chaining protesters to trees and heavy equipment, Murray said.”

“Ian Huggett of Eco Watch said he wanted the Chelsea phase of construction to be completed before the land was cleared for the Wakefield phase. ‘Because you look at it and you see they’ve got at least eight to 12 months work. So why come in here in advance when you won’t even start working in here for another year?'”

To see a short Ottawa Citizen video on the tree-sitting protest, please go to http://www.ottawacitizen.com/travel/Protesters+gather+year+tree+path+extension/5953542/story.html. There is also a CBC Radio-Canada report (in French) at http://www.radio-canada.ca/regions/ottawa/2012/01/05/003-manifestation-autoroute-wakefield.shtml, a CBC report at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2012/01/05/gatineau-park-highway-5-expansion-protest.html?cmp=rss, and an Ottawa Sun report at http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/01/05/hwy-protesters-vow-to-protect-trees?utm_source=addThis&utm_medium=addthis_button_facebook&utm_campaign=Hwy.+protesters+vow+to+protect+trees+%7C+Ottawa+&+Region+%7C+News+%7C+Ottawa+Sun#.TwaCDAlMD60.facebook.

The Council of Canadians has raised concerns over the past year and a half that the Valley Drive Spring, a popular water source in Wakefield, could be contaminated by the extension of Highway 5. The West Quebec Post has reported, “A federal assessment (which approved the extension) acknowledged (that no one knows the exact source of all the spring water and) did not require public consultation. …The 1986 Quebec consultation did not look at hydrology.” CBC has reported, “Transport Canada performed a preliminary assessment and determined that the project – which would involve lopping off a nearby hilltop – could contaminate the aquifer.” For highlights of our efforts to protect the spring please see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=11598.