Skip to content

NEWS: Wakefield residents plan blockade to protect their water

The Ottawa Citizen is reporting, “A Quebec construction company is ignoring government orders to stop excavating at a site in Wakefield that locals say is one of the main sources for an important local spring. Couillard Construction is defying an explicit order from Quebec’s environmental ministry to cease removing sand from a sand pit on Rockhurst Road, about 40 minutes north of Ottawa. …Couillard Construction is working on the controversial A5 highway extension, using the sand to help build a four-lane highway from Chelsea to Farm Point. The massive highway project, which received federal stimulus funding, has already been a flashpoint for debate because of its effects on old-growth forests in Gatineau Park.”

“The sandpit is important to local residents because it has been identified as one of the sources of the Wakefield spring, a freshwater source that (Laurie) Gough said many residents depend on for potable water. Gough said that studies have shown the importance of the sand as a natural filter for the spring, and she worries that the clay that Couillard is dumping could block off the flow of fresh water.”

“The company has no clearance from either the provincial or municipal governments for the project, but claims to have the right to use the land through a so-called ‘grandfather clause’. …Charles Ricard, the general manager of the La Peche municipality of which Wakefield is a part, said that, to his knowledge, the construction company’s main defence is that it does not have to apply for environmental approval if the site has been in operation as a sand pit since before the most recent laws were passed in the late 1970s.”

“On Wednesday morning, a group of protesters gathered to attempt to disrupt what they said is the constant flow of trucks in and out of the Rockhurst Road sandpit. Laurie Gough, a Wakefield resident who helped organize the demonstration, said the trucks stopped on Wednesday soon after the protest started. When the protesters returned the following morning, the work appeared to have ceased entirely. But after a few hours, Gough said, the trucks began to come and go as always. …Gough said she and other locals were planning on blocking the road on Friday morning to prevent any more work at the site.”

Related blogs:
NEWS: Excavation for Highway 5 expansion may threaten Wakefield Spring
UPDATE: Judge Dallaire rules against Wakefield highway construction protest
UPDATE: Council of Canadians expresses solidarity with ‘occupy the trees’ group
UPDATE: Council joins Wakefield gathering to defend the Vallee Verde aquifer
NEWS: Does the Highway 5 extension threaten the Wakefield spring?
More at http://canadians.org/blog/?s=wakefield+highway