A second visit to the Gatineau/Pontiac region this year has once more stirred up my very deep concern for the region.
This region sits, in my opinion, on the edge of a very deep precipice that appears ready for a horrific landslide.
I am referring to - as your readers probably already know - the muscled drive of the Pontiac MRC to deposit 900 acres of regional urban waste into the Piconoc/Gatineau Rivers watershed basin. Swinging the gavel of consent like a two-edged sword is no other than the mayor of Danford Lake himself - mayor of the very municipality who will, figuratively speaking, sit on the pot of the proposed regional dump.
Mr. Squitty's firm insistence that the benefits of the dump in Danford Lake Municipality outweigh the problems does not surprise me. What politician discovering an unexpected windfall of money for his constituents could easily say no, especially if it was offered on a "take it now or never basis"? I assume the offer had those dimensions, or Mr. Squitty would obviously have pressed for a public referendum on a matter of such importance.
Nor am I surprised 14 other mayors in the MRC danced to Mr. Squitty's drum, for they too may have been overwhelmed with promise of municipal benefits staggering to the imagination.
Who wouldn't have jumped quickly with so much fiscal overlay to prop up municipal budgets? Like the good Lord said, who's going to toss the first stone?
Let's not forget the 'blame' thing. There's a better way through this. Let's be thankful five mayors kept focus intact and resolution firm.
As the decision now moves into higher courts - past Danford Lake municipal voters - and past the MRC -let's pass on the mantle to environmental surveillance and provincial and national overview. Somewhere along the line there, must be a balanced, fair, intelligent, and responsible action taken to resolve the desperate need for an environmentally safe deposit of urban waste from major Cities.
May I say to those who now bear the weight of this decision in their hands: the Gatineau Valley and Pontiac region is like a magnet that draws urban dwellers near and far. It's a haven of nature's best. It's colourful trees, sparkling rivers, snowclad mountains, beautiful lakes, winter ski hills and farm-fresh valleys are natural diamonds that sparkle in the Canadian economy. That 'sparkle' will be even brighter when tbe four-lane Number 5 reaches Maniwaki. The 'landslide' then will be more homes, more businesses, more recreation, more tourists, and more money flowing into the valley.
Put your dump in the middle of that and see how soon the flow will stop and the sparkle go!
Rev.Ivan F. Jesperson is a former clergyman who served in the Gatineau/Pontiac region. .