Skip to content

UPDATE: Council joins Wakefield gathering to defend the Vallee Verde aquifer

The Council of Canadians is in Wakefield, Quebec today to lend our support to the local SOS Wakefield campaign to protect the Vallee Verde aquifer against a planned highway expansion set to begin this March.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has just taken the stage (Sunday, 5:10 pm ET) at a campaign fundraiser at the popular Black Sheep Inn, now packed-full with more than 150 people (including staff members Emma Lui, Jan Malek, and Melissa Dick, as well as several Ottawa chapter activists).

Musicians volunteering their time and performing here this afternoon include Godknowswhat!, Anouk et Pierre Duo, Alise Marlane, James Stephens, and Doug McArthur.

SOS Wakefield is demanding that a provincial environmental assessment be conducted before highway construction proceeds this spring. An assessment was conducted in 1986, but it is argued that it is now 25 years old and out of date. A more recent preliminary assessment by Transport Canada says the highway could contaminate the Vallee Verde aquifer.

Ontario-Quebec organizer Mark Calzavara, who spoke at a SOS Wakefield media conference in early-January, has written about, “the poorly conceived expansion of nearby Highway A-5, a project that will carve away a mountain top, flatten a few thousand trees before paving a pair of massive ‘traffic circles’ across the suspected recharge zone of the spring itself.”

The Vallee Verde aquifer likely feeds the popular Wakefield Spring, which supplies clean drinking water to about 5,000 people.

Today we are asking people to text SPRING to 123411 (not case-sensitive).

When they do so the following message will be sent back to their phones:  “I demand public consultations on expansion of HWY A-5. To send this message to Minister Arcand reply with your name. Std rates apply.”

Pierre Arcand is Quebec’s minister of the environment.

When the person texts back with their name they receive the following message: “Thank you for speaking up to protect the Wakefield Spring. To receive future mobile alerts from the COC reply YES. Std rates apply.”

The following statement is then e-mailed to Minister Arcand: “The Wakefield spring is a precious water source for over 5,000 people in the Outaouais region. It is potentially at risk from the current designs for expanding highway A-5 from Chelsea to Wakefield. Completed in 1986, the provincial environmental assessment for this project is a generation out of date. It does not reflect contemporary environmental values, nor recent Quebec legislation designed to protect collective water resources and ensure sustainable development. I respectfully request a new environmental assessment including a full public consultation process.”

The Council of Canadians first began raising this issue in May 2010, around the time SOS Wakefield was formed. One of the first campaign blogs can be read at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=3898.

For those in the Ottawa-Wakefield area, the next SOS Wakefield meeting is on March 1.