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My thoughts on the Climbers’ Access Coalition information meeting

April 20, 2010 @ 18:07 By: gordon Category: Climbing, Current affairs, Environment

The Ottawa-Gatineau Climbers’ Access Coalition information session on the implications of the Gatineau Park Ecosystem Conservation Plan (GPECP) took place Monday evening. At least 100 people attended the meeting, which was held at the Ottawa Mountain Equipment Co-op store.

Eric Grenier, chair of the Coalition, summarized the current state of affairs and said the immediate problem is getting the National Capital Commission’s attention and convincing them that the dialogue hasn’t finished yet – if anything it’s just starting:

“How do we engage them in that process? I think that the way we have to go about doing that is by employing public influence.” – Eric Grenier

The interim access agreement that’s been in place for the last three years expired at the end of 2009. The NCC has not seen fit to extend the agreement, so technically there’s no access agreement. You could view this as there being no restrictions on climbing, but I wouldn’t. If you’re a climber, probably the best way to handle the situation is continue to climb as though the interim agreement is still in effect. According to all accounts, neither the NCC nor the Coalition have had any problems with the way the interim agreement has been working for the last three years. And if you should be accosted by a conservation officer and told to stop climbing, stop climbing. Don’t argue with the conservation officer – remember, they are peace officers and have powers of arrest.

The Coalition also launched a postcard campaign lobbying John Baird, Minister of Transport. The NCC is partially in Baird’s portfolio and also in Lawrence Cannon’s portfolio in his role as Minister of State (National Capital Commission), so there’s no reason not to send one to Minister Cannon, too.

(Thanks to Sarah Davidson who posted pictures of the cards on her blog.)

I had an opportunity to talk to some of the other people who attended the meeting, including Charles Hodgson who runs Guide Gatineau and Sarah Davidson who runs BOG. I also met David Foster, Vice-President of Access & Environment at the Alpine Club of Canada, who agreed with my assessment of the rationale in Appendix 2, particularly that what may be true for limestone cliffs is not necessarily true for granite cliffs like the Eardley Escarpment.

I have to admit that I was quite impressed. A meeting of this nature has a lot of potential to degenerate into a bitchfest, but people were quite civil and very attentive to what Eric and the people who asked questions were saying.

So, the challenge going forward is how to engage the NCC. We can’t use strong arm tactics such as being aggressive and making whatever the corporate equivalent of an ad hominem attack is. That won’t get us anywhere with the NCC.

Instead, we need to approach the issue of equitable access using terms they understand and demonstrate how climbing is not incompatible with the goals of the GPECP and the Gatineau Park Master Plan. Explaining it in terms of conservation and heritage are much more likely to elicit a positive response than yelling and screaming at them.

Congratulations and thanks to the Ottawa-Gatineau Climbers’ Access Coalition for championing the cause. It’s been a hard job and it doesn’t show signs of getting any easier. I put my name down for a couple of tasks on the list-of-things-they-need-people-for at the meeting last night. If you are interested in helping out, drop them a line.

As I mentioned, there were other bloggers at the meeting. Charles has posted his summary of the meeting on the Gatineau Park News blog, and Sarah has posted her take on the meeting in BOG. Charles filmed the meeting, so presumably he’s going to put some video up at some point. I’ll post a link to it when he does.

Update: Charles has posted a transcript of the meeting on Gatineau Park News.

10 Responses to “My thoughts on the Climbers’ Access Coalition information meeting”


  1. Gordon, thank you for this update. NCC CEO Marie Lemay has requested a meeting with the Gatineau Park Conservation Committee, for next week, and we will be – and would be pleased to – raise these issues.

    Andrew McDermott
    Co-Chair
    Gatineau Park Protection CVommittee
    http://www.gatineauparc.ca

    • gordon says:

      Interesting development. Did they suggest an agenda or is it more to try to clear the air between your group and the NCC so that you can proceed in a more collaborative manner? Based on what I’ve read, it seems the GPPC’s relations with the CEO are a bit strained.

      As for raising the issues I’ve written about and that were talked about at the meeting on Monday, you should probably talk to the Coalition first as the interim agreement was between them and the NCC and they represent the climbing community specifically. But the offer is a generous one.

  2. pete brown says:

    Do note that Ms. Lemay has apparently requested a meeting with the Gatineau Park Conservation Comittee, not the Gatineau Park Protection Comittee.

    See http://guidegatineau.ca/news/2010/03/19/ncc-responds-to-gppc-criticism/ comments for more…

    • gordon says:

      Well, I’m willing to give benefit of the doubt that if Andrew has been contacted by the NCC directly that the NCC’s intent is to meet with the GPPC. I’ve googled the term Gatineau Park Conservation Committee without finding such an entity, at least not in the first forty links returned. 🙂

  3. Sorry, I am being ironic Gordon – Conservation is is interchangeable with Protection – it is the Protection Committee of course. And no, we do not intend to meet with her to be collaberative, or non-collaberative: the Gatineau Park Protection Committee has pursuaded several MPS to table protective legislation on Gatineau Park so that its land management schemes more closely parallel those of National Parks (that an Act of Parliament be required to change the boundaries of the park) and to cease all land development in the park. If you suggest a more collaberative approach, most of these issues would be off the table, as the NCC itself has no interest in land management that would effectively lead to protection, preservation and conservation.

    Andrew

  4. pete brown says:

    Sorry, my bad,

    I just assumed that since Mr. Murray has scolded Ms. Lemay for the very same error(in above link) and since the GPPC seems to be fond of pointing out mistakes that they would be wary of falling into the same trap. Guess not.

    Is this meeting open to the public? I might enjoy the discourse.

  5. No, she has invited us (for a private meeting (as she has from time to time in the past) and therefore it is closed (but hey, maybe we can Tweet you…).

    Thanks,

    Andrew

  6. gordon says:

    If you followed this entry over the lunch hour, you may have seen a comment by Jean-Paul Murray that is no longer visible. I was hoping that we could have a civilized conversation, without ad hominem attacks, but that does not appear to be the case.

    I strongly encourage everyone to read an entry I wrote on September 22nd, 2008. Though the impetus then was a different topic, the sentiment remains. In particular, I ask people to read the final paragraph in that entry and ensure that their comments respect the spirit of it.

    Everyone’s cooperation with respect to this is appreciated. Thank you.

  7. Remembering that the GPPC was supposed to meet with Marie Lemay a couple of weeks back I was wondering what went on, or what was the outcome.


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