Gatineau Park


Gatineau Park is located in Quebec's Outaouais region, just north of Ottawa, Ontario. Administered by the National Capital Commission, the park is a 361 km² wedge of land to the west of the Gatineau River. With a circumference of 179.2 km, the park includes parts of the municipalities of Chelsea, Pontiac, La Pêche, and the City of Gatineau.
Although advocated by Dominion Parks Commissioner James Harkin to be the first national park outside the Rocky Mountains, it remains the only federal park that is not a national park, a situation that has direct repercussions on its ecology, boundaries, and land mass. Created in 1938, Gatineau is the only federal park not protected by the National Parks Act, largely as a result of former Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King's caution, fear of criticism, and desire for privacy.
Gatineau Park was not only the first national park advocated for Quebec; it was also intended to be the first one outside the Rocky Mountains. As well, it was to be the first national park created by the first parks service in the world, the Dominion Parks Branch.
On 7 April 1927, the idea of creating a Gatineau national park was again raised in the House of Commons, where MPs considered a bill to create the Federal District Commission, which would build parks and parkways on both sides of the Ottawa River. During debate, however, Conservative MP John Edwards accused Prime Minister King of wanting to create a park around his Kings mere property and ease access to it by building a parkway. Though he denied the charge, the criticism would shape King's subsequent decisions regarding the park.
It would take another eleven years for the park to be created in embryonic form on 1 July 1938, as a result of efforts by Percy Sparks of the Federal Woodlands Preservation League. By choosing to create the park through gradual property acquisition, the King government allowed private property to continue existing in Gatineau Park—a situation that has prevented the park from becoming a national park.
Today, the National Capital Commission manages the park, along with all federal lands and buildings in Canada's National Capital Region. Its policies on park boundaries, land management and ownership, as well as on residential construction in the park, have been the subject of controversy. To address these issues, several private members’ bills have been introduced in the Senate and House of Commons since 2005. The federal government also tabled its own Gatineau Park legislation in June 2009 and April 2010. None of the bills tabled so far has been enacted into law.
The latest legislation on the subject, Bill C-20, was reported back to the House of Commons on November 15, 2010. However, debate at report stage or third reading has yet to take place. In the fall of 2010, a controversy broke out in the press pertaining to the rehabilitation of Trail no. 1 in Gatineau Park. According to published reports, the contractor hired by the NCC had laced the trail with broken glass and other debris; the NCC reacted to this news by hiring an engineering firm to study the problem. Its report concluded that garbage spread along the trail was within acceptable standards, a conclusion that park advocates met with skepticism. The NCC also confirmed staff for the contractor was not certified in the maintenance of summer trails in the park, as required by their contract.
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 15, rue Eddy, Gatineau - (613) 990-3045
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