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VIDEO: Mayors won’t listen to concerns about sewage plant on Gatineau River

On April 21, the Council of Canadians joined with about 600 people in Chelsea, Quebec to march to the MRC (municipalites rurales qui la composent) des Collines de l’Outaouais office, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=6586. The issue – community opposition to a plan to “build a regional septic sludge treatment plant that will release treated effluent into the Gatineau River.”

The Friends of the Gatineau River explain, “The MRC des Collines plans to build a massive regional septic sludge treatment plant on the Gatineau River north of Wakefield without credible consideration of any alternative approaches or technologies.” They also note, “This 10-acre facility will service over 20,000 septic tanks from 6 of the 7 municipalities of the MRC. Its lagoons (aeration pits) will release effluent into the Gatineau River for at least the next 40 years.”

In March, the Ottawa Citizen had reported, “Opponent Wanda Gibson, who has a cottage on the Gatineau River, says she’s worried that the plant will use old technology, and will put out more effluent than the river can handle in dry spells. Opponents of the plan (also) don’t like the design, using aeration pits where sewage breaks down, with the treated water released to the river.”

Sanderson escorted from public meeting by MRC des Collines police. Photo by Lucy Scholey.

Last week, Rupert, Quebec musician Brian Sanderson sang about the proposed wastewater treatment plant at a meeting of the MRC des Collines. To watch the 1-minute video – and the mayors walk out on him one-by-one – please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LKcXce9w7s.

The LowDown newspaper reported that Sanderson tried to sing a question to the seven MRC mayors with his ukele. Prefect Robert Brussiere, the La Peche mayor, tried to tell the Rupert musician he could not play, but Sanderson sang his song about the proposed regional sewage treatment plant to the 50 people who packed the meeting room. …One by one the mayors stood up and left the room as Sanderson sang lyrics that he said represented questions from people who could not attend the meeting. Some residents smiled and clapped along. …Municipal staffers fetched the MRC des Collines police, who had been waiting outside in a police car since the meeting had started. Sanderson turned around and strummed his last verse as he left the room. The police were waiting at the door and asked him to leave.”

Later in an open letter to the mayors, Sanderson wrote, “It was not my intention to be disrespectful of the meeting. I am a musician; I did what musicians do. they find out what people are thinking and feeling and they find ways of conveying this in song. The song I wished to perform for you was one that I compiled after soliciting input from a wide range of locals. I would have been finished in less than my allotted three minutes.”

Sanderson is also a member of the group Godknowswhat!. Sanderson and this group played at the February 20 fundraiser for SOS Wakefield, a group campaigning to ensure that the expansion of Highway 5 does not pollute the local aquifer. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow spoke at that fundraiser at the Black Sheep Inn, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=5599.