Friday, 18 March 2011

Looking at another microcosm ...

You may remember my mentioning the blasting taking place across the lake ... the widening of the existing road, despite the basic commonsense realization that if you cut the trees whose root systems are holding the nearly vertical mountain in place, and then blast and gouge away whole areas of supporting rock structure, that the mountain will crumble and fall piece by piece.

We told them this before they chose the cheapest solution just described.  Some of us are more knowledgeable about engineering, physics and soil than I am ... almost anyone is ... but even I know that erosion happens when you disturb the natural plant life that holds earth in place.

They had to have known.

However; they went ahead.  They based their decision on relative cost.  They always do.

I know ... the ubiquitous "they".  Well "they" in this case is the municipality ... the same municipality that has expropriated land to allow an existing plastic factory to have a cheaper place from which to operate ... no jobs for the region ... nothing positive at all except an ugly little industrial park producing ecologically unfriendly materials.    This is also the municipality that wants to put a septic waste facility for several  regions on the Gatineau River above  Wakefield; a facility that is not state-of-the-art as far as environmental controls are concerned. And a highway structure that may destroy the aquifer of the Wakefield spring on which many people depend for pure water.

I have not become actively involved in the ecological debates raging around the arbitrary  municipal decisions being made recently --- there are  too many for an old hermit to handle and many younger and more energetic activists are doing their damnedest to save out spring, to save our river, to save the environment, to save the character of Wakefield.  Thank heavens for their youthful energy and commitment.

But I think they will likely be just as ineffectual in the long run as we were with the blasting on the lake.

By the way ...chunks of the mountain have been falling ever since the blasting took place ... and the whole process seems to be accelerating.

On the weekend, a rock the size of a wood shed came down and blocked the road.  There was no emergency number to call, and the resident whose path was blocked, along with other neighbours, called the police who arranged to have a path cleared that would allow one vehicle at a time to use the road.

Since then the site has been visited by several trucks with different logos on them. Groups of official looking men spill out and contemplate the mess the mountain and the road have become.

This morning it was a  white municipality truck and a much larger red vehicle.  A group of five La Peche fire fighters tumbled out of the latter.  They clustered around looking up at the overhanging ridges of red rock to which clung some smaller trees. After half an hour they left.

Surely in a group of five practical men like volunteer firefighters there will be at least one sane head that will point out the obvious folly of cutting down more trees, of gouging back still more of the mountain.

The better solution would have cost more, but I suspect the costs are already approaching those of the better solution, and that the municipality will eventually be faced with having to do what they should have done initially anyway.

And I have not even touched on the real concern I have; safety.  What if that resident had arrived at that spot a few hours earlier ... at the moment the rock fell?  His car would have been crushed and him in it, or he would have veered to the right to avoid being struck.  He would have gone into the lake.

Does someone have to be badly injured  or killed before this municipality makes a sane decision?

I know that this is a very tiny matter, especially when the world is concerned with the real tragedies occurring in Japan and the Middle East.

Despotic politicians.  Puny man-made and ill-considered solutions to problems.  A failure to respect the terrible beauty of nature.

I know the crumbling mountain across the lake is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it really is just a matter of scale.

1 comment:

Barbara Carlson said...

Sickening story. When will they ever learn? Never, I fear, when money is more important than anything. It's hearing stories like these that make me glad to be old and heading outta here and all the more reason to appreciate what we have now, diminishing as it is.

I went to see Wednesday's Beechwood Ave. fire ruins today -- A bulldozed pile 10 feet high of wet, charred wood & blackened bricks. A tiny, infinitesimal taste of what the north-west coast of Japan is like today under mud.

It took 135 men to put out the Home Hardware fire over 13 hours. It will take millions of men & hours to fix Japan. Where do you begin? One shovelful at a time, I guess, like any other job. Try not to look at the battlefield.