Group claims Hwy. 5 expansion to damage Gatineau Park

A group in west Quebec is ready to use tree sitting to stop the long-planned Highway 5 expansion through Gatineau Park, which is set to begin this winter.

Councillor says expansion from 2 to 4 lanes is urgent due to fatal crashes, dangers

A west Quebec group opposed to the long-promised extension of Highway 5 plans to protest the plan late Thursday morning.

Jean-Paul Murray is from the Gatineau Park Protection Committee, which is concerned the new roadway will cut through part of the park and takes out trees and wildlife.

Hwy. 5 currently turns into Highway 105 and hugs the park's eastern edge.

"There's 200-year-old trees here that will be felled," he told the CBC's Julie Ireton, "What people are doing right now is planning to organize protests, that includes demonstrations and attempts to stop the building through civil disobedience, which includes tree sitting."

Murray claims protestor Jamie Robertson is already sitting 100 feet up a pine tree Thursday morning and assures he would also camp out in a tree.

Highway 5 expansion a long time coming

The project to expand from two to four lanes is an urgent one, local officials say, because the current highway is very dangerous.

Many large trucks drive through the winding road and there have been a number of fatal crashes on the highway.

One local councillor added the highway plan has changed over the past few years to limit the impact on surrounding areas.

"They have, over decades, looked at the plan and tried to make it as environmentally sound as possible, but a highway is a highway," said Louis Rompre, councillor for La Pêche, Que.,

"No matter where you put it, it's going to go through some natural areas."

Rompre added construction of the highway near Wakefield, Que., would go ahead during the winter.

But Murray believes the National Capital Commission, which cares for Gatineau Park, could still get involved and stop clear-cutting.