OTTAWA – New Democrat MP Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) celebrated Earth Day 2009 by reintroducing his legislation to protect Gatineau Park. Dewar also presents hundreds of signatures petitioning the government to protect the Gatineau Park.
“Gatineau Park is the only federal park without legislated protection” said Dewar. “People in our community love the park and want it to be protected”.
For nearly four decades, concerned citizens have requested that Gatineau Park be protected from unsuitable encroachments, developments and sell offs. In the absence of such protection, Gatineau Park’s boundaries can change, its land can be sold and roads can be built inside it without the review, knowledge or approval of Parliament. To date nearly eight square kilometres of land have been removed from the park, and some 118 new houses and five new roads have been built inside its boundaries.
“The park needs legislated protection” said Dewar, “I invite the government to adopt the ideas outlined in my private members bill and protect the park for future generations”.
The principles of Dewar’s bill have received strong endorsements from the Sierra Club and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. Last year Dewar was joined by representatives from the Sierra Club, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Conseil régional de l’environnement et du Développement durable de l’Outaouais, Ottawa Greenspace Alliance, and others to launch a community campaign to protect the Gatineau Park.
"Gatineau Park has been called the crown jewel of our nation’s capital” concluded Dewar. “I invite the government to adopt the ideas outlined in my private members bill and protect the park, not only for our benefit, but for that of future generations as well”.
An Act to Amend the National Capital Act (Gatineau Park)
Largely inspired by the National Parks Act, Paul Dewar’s Private Members Bill would amend various sections of the National Capital Act to:
1.) Provide legislated boundaries for Gatineau Park.
2.) Prevent removal of any land from Gatineau Park by Order in Council or other administrative means. The bill provides that only an Act of Parliament could remove properties from the park. This is in the same spirit of protection that is given to our national parks under the National Parks Act.
3.) Create a mechanism for expanding the park, should the government choose to do so. Any expansion would require an agreement between the federal government and the Province of Quebec, public consultations and the concurrence of Parliament. Committees from both the House of Commons and the Senate would have 30 sitting days to examine the proposal, and it would proceed only with consent from both houses.
4.) Respect that some of Gatineau Park remains in private hands. The bill does not ‘nationalize’ the park. The bill provides that all private property owners may keep their properties and pass them on in inheritance. Those property owners wishing to sell their holdings in the park would give the NCC a right of first refusal at fair market prices.
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