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NEWS: Wakefield Spring campaign at critical time

SOS Wakefield chair Peter Andree and Maude Barlow, photo by Reuel S. Amdur

SOS Wakefield chair Peter Andree and Maude Barlow, photo by Reuel S. Amdur

The West Quebec Post reports that, “SOS Wakefield brought Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians, …(to the) Black Sheep Inn (on February 20) to support the preservation of the Wakefield Spring.”

“SOS Wakefield is asking Pierre Arcand, Quebec’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, to order a new environmental assessment for the proposed expansion of Highway A-5 from Chelsea to Wakefield. The group is not necessarily opposing the extension but insists that an assessment be undertaken to ensure the construction will not interfere with the flow of the spring. …As well they want any Wakefield turnoffs to be appropriate for a small village reliant on tourists.”

“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. More recent Quebec legislation requires that an extension would require that the plan cause minimal environmental impact.”

“In her remarks, Barlow addressed the Wakefield Spring struggle as part of a larger fight for ‘global water justice’. ‘You’, she told the audience, ‘are stewards of the water, water warriors’.” The newspaper adds, “She spoke of the successful struggle in Simcoe County to prevent establishment of a dump site above pristine ground water. As part of local opposition, women from an Indian tribe set up in a farmer’s field near the site and moved to block heavy equipment coming to prepare the ground for the dump. ‘I don’t suggest that you do that,’ she said. ‘But’, she added after a pause and with a twinkle in her eye, ‘if you do I’ll be there to join you’.”

On February 23, the Wakefield Low Down reported that, “Actual construction work (on the highway is now) slated to begin in a couple of weeks, according to the Ministry of Transport of Quebec.” More on this at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=6633.

The Council of Canadians is working with SOS Wakefield to take the steps necessary over the next several weeks to defend the Wakefield Spring from the highway expansion. More details on this will be forthcoming in subsequent campaign blogs.