----- NCC: real law-breakers in Gatineau Park
Please note that Environment Quebec has confirmed that neither the NCC nor the contractor obtained a certificate of authorization for demolition and construction of the ruisseau de la Loutre bridge, along chemin Pellerin, in the Municipality of Pontiac, and inside Gatineau Park (September-October 2020).
This is a prima facie violation of section 22 of Quebec's Environmental Quality Act, R.S.Q., c. Q-2: section 22 paragraph 2, which says that: “no one may erect or alter any structure, carry out any works or projects (...) in a constant or intermittent watercourse, a lake, pond, marsh, swamp or bog, unless he first obtains a certificate of authorization from the Minister.” The Act also stipulates that an environmental impact assessment must take place before any certificate of authorization is issued...
This breach has serious implications for the contractor and the NCC; both are liable to penalties: the former to a fine of "$5,000 to $500,000 or […] to a maximum term of imprisonment of 18 months, or to both the fine and imprisonment"; and the latter "to a fine of $15,000 to $3,000,000" (section 115.32 of the Environment Quality Act). I suspect the Municipality of Pontiac and the Regional County Municipality may be liable as well.
That's what the Liberal Government gets for neglecting Gatineau Park. The Gatineau Park Protection Committee has filed an official complaint with Environment Quebec.
The ruisseau de la Loutre bridge saga illustrates political, administrative and legal failures at every level: no regional, municipal or provincial authorizations were issued; no NCC federal land use approval was given. Moreover, the letter and spirit of the Gatineau Park Master Plan and Conservation Plan were violated.
I think the minister needs to take this file more seriously. To help her appreciate the gravity of the situation, I am attaching an excellent summary of the case law regarding section 22 of the Environment Quality Act.
Jean-Paul Murray, Gatineau Park Protection Committee