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e-2414 (Government services and administration)

E-petition
Initiated by John McDonnell from Mayo, Quebec

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

Whereas:
  • Gatineau Park is one of the most visited parks in Canada;
  • Gatineau Park is home to about 90 endangered plant species and 50 endangered animal species;
  • Gatineau Park is a major economic driver for the National Capital Region. According to the National Capital Commission, 2.7 million annual visits are made to the park, contributing $241.5 million to the local economy while supporting 4728 full-time jobs;
  • The boundaries of Gatineau Park are not recognized in an Act of Parliament;
  • Sections of Gatineau Park can be removed from the park and sold without parliamentary review or approval;
  • Unlike Canada's National Parks and many provincial parks, Gatineau Park is not protected by legislation mandating that it be managed to ensure its ecological integrity; and
  • The Park Manager lacks the required authorities to adequately protect the Park's natural and cultural resources.
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to amend the National Capital Act to give Gatineau Park the necessary legal protection required to ensure its preservation for future generations.

Response by the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Steven MacKinnon

The Government would like to thank the petitioners for their appreciation and advocacy for Gatineau Park and the maintaining of the Park for future generations.

As you are all likely aware, Gatineau Park is the National Capital Region’s largest and most popular green space. The Park’s varied ecosystems are rich in biodiversity, providing a habitat for over 4,000 species, including rare species found nowhere else in the region, and over 150 species at risk.

As of July 1, 2020, Gatineau Park celebrated its eighty-second birthday. It was created in 1938 around long-established settlements; a co-existence between residential, recreational and rural properties that remains an enduring and unique feature of what it has grown to be today. Over eight decades, Gatineau Park has grown while continuously being used by visitors. It is a favourite year-round destination for nature-based day trips. Each year, over 600,000 people make more than 2.65 million visits to Gatineau Park.

The National Capital Commission’s (NCC’s) Gatineau Park Master Plan guide the management of the Park. The central management principle of the Master Plan is to conserve the health and integrity of the Park for future generations while offering environmentally respectful experiences to Canadians. The Master Plan establishes a vision of the Park as a protected natural area, managed primarily to conserve its ecosystems. Secondarily is it a place of recreation, and only where natural processes are allowed to take precedence.

The NCC has a policy of acquiring private property in the Park whenever possible. Gatineau Park has an area of 36,100 hectares. In 2008, 600 hectares were under private ownership. Since then, as part of its conservation mandate, the NCC has acquired 36 percent of those lands. There are now only 386 hectares of private property in the Park. The NCC continues to actively pursue acquisition of private properties, with a view to further consolidating the Park under NCC ownership. These private lands still remain under the municipal authority. The use and development of private lands within Parks remains an issue across all National Parks in Canada, not just Gatineau Park.

The results of this emphasis on conservation have been positive. The 2016-17 Report on Gatineau Park Ecosystems found that the overall condition of the Park is “good”, and that this condition remains stable.

To build on the successes achieved, the NCC is currently renewing the Gatineau Park Master Plan. Involving broad consultations with the public, local municipalities, the conservation community, user groups, and other stakeholder groups, the review process provides an opportunity to take the Gatineau Park Master Plan forward into the twenty-first century.

To supplement its broad consultation efforts, the NCC appointed a Public Advisory Committee (PAC), which formed on October 12, 2017 and has met regularly throughout the process to be an important sounding board and to share in-depth information. It is composed of a balanced representation of various areas of interest for the Park, including the environment, heritage, recreation, residents and business.

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of the Park to the National Capital Region and Canadians. The Government will continue to support the NCC’s efforts to protect a critical jewel of the region. The draft Gatineau Park Master Plan does recommend legislation to protect the Park, but it is now in its fourth and final phase of review. We look forward to receiving the final report and reviewing its recommendations.

The Government of Canada remains open to possible legislation on Gatineau Park.

Open for signature
March 2, 2020, at 12:30 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
June 30, 2020, at 12:30 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Greg Fergus (Hull—Aylmer)
July 20, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00295)
Government response tabled
September 24, 2020
Photo - Greg Fergus
Hull—Aylmer
Liberal Caucus
Quebec
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