News / Ottawa

Group renews effort to make Gatineau Park a national park

Soren Antosz and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society are collecting signatures through the "Make it a Park" campaign.

People look at the colourful foliage out over the Ottawa Valley from the top of Champlain Lookout in Gatineau Park in Hull, Quebec on Sunday, Oct 3, 2010.

The Canadian Press

People look at the colourful foliage out over the Ottawa Valley from the top of Champlain Lookout in Gatineau Park in Hull, Quebec on Sunday, Oct 3, 2010.

Gatineau Park may be a treasured wilderness escape for the residents of Ottawa and Gatineau but those who enjoy it might be surprised to know it’s not recognized as a national or even provincial park.

That’s the message Soren Antosz is trying to spread in a new campaign calling for the federal government to “Make it a Park” in order to prevent future construction in the area.

“It’s a wilderness area and we’d like to make sure it's protected for generations to come,” said Antosz, vice-president of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Ottawa Valley chapter.

Antosz and the local chapter of CPAWS are concerned that without national park status there aren’t enough safeguards to prevent construction inside the park.

“The difference is right now the NCC can make any decision they want. They do give public consultations, but they give the final say,” he said. “There’s not enough transparency in how decisions are made around the park.”

He said the group doesn’t necessarily take issue with NCC management of the park, but he wants more oversight.

Founded in 1938, the park may not be as large as nearby Algonquin Park, but it does include 90 at-risk species of plants and 50 at-risk animal species. The park boundaries also include 50 different lakes, including a rare meromictic lake.

The idea of making Gatineau Park a national park isn’t new – it’s something the group has been working on since it was founded in the 1970s.

Over the past decade several bills have been introduced in the House of Commons would solidify the park’s boundaries, but none have been passed.

With a new government in power, CPAWS is now renewing the effort.

“We’re trying to refresh the campaign,” said Soren Antosz.

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