Selected Press Coverage

The Editor,

In response to "Family kicked off land for industrial strip mall reaches deal" (June 5 edition), here's an update from "the other side of the highway." With Louis Rompre's leadership, the municipal council unanimously adopted a preliminary development  concept for Minnes Farm on July 9, 2012.

Planex Consultants, Quebec's most experienced design and planning firm, presented an integrated plan, which features the five-year-old Outaouais Environmental Campus (Eco Echo), a non-profit educational centre; sustainable homes; and a multifunctional area with "green" community services. In the spirit of community, we also offered the West Quebec School Board a prime location for Wakefield's new elementary school.

Despite difficult economic conditions since January 2009, I've reached out to many regional and national companies to attract new investment to La Pêche. In August, our first business, the Great White North Nursery, will begin supplying organic root stock, fruit trees and shrubs for our hardy northern climate.

These are employment and income opportunities that celebrate our region's agricultural roots. Together with an active partner, we're also seeking funding for a Natural Indigenous Wisdom Centre to provide jobs in cultural tourism and to honour our Aboriginal heritage.

This project will appeal to financial partners who share our community's values and respect the Minnes Farm's cultural and historic significance.

We especially appreciate community leaders who are already engaged with the La Pêche Organic Community Orchard and Wakefield Community Garden. Working together, this com­ pelling vision will enhance our local economy and enrich the quality of life for generations to come.

Christopher Minnes, Wakefield, Quebec    

Low Down to Hull and Back - March 2, 2011 by Eric Corneau

Eco Echo looks for community support to back visionary plan in Wakefield

An open letter to the residents of La Pêche:

“Don’t it always seem to go, That you don’t know what you’ve got, Till it’s gone, They paved paradise, And put up a parking lot!”

Joni Mitchell’s lyrics for Big Yellow Taxi are heartbreaking for La Pêche residents contemplating the full impact of a 100-acre industrial park. A significant portion is proposed for forty acres east of Highway 105, home to the non-profit Outaouais Environmental Campus (Eco Echo). These rolling fields frame the historic Hall Cemetary and provide access for thousands of visitors annually.

Years of planning, organization, investment, consultation, summer nature camps for kids, permaculture and tree-planting workshops and family cultural events, have made Eco Echo a major asset to the region. Our visionary plan calls for a world-class environmental education center supports the local economy by teaching skills and sharing knowledge for a healthy, sustainable future. And we deserve the municipality’s support to implement it properly.

In just three years, Eco Echo has enriched our unique, diverse and vibrant community. The La Pêche Organic Community Orchard is one of the high-value partners working with Eco Echo to improve life in the Gatineau.

We share your concerns the municipality’s plans would ruin Eco Echo’s potential for attracting tourists and students to educational conferences, music, dance and theatre performances in the unique quarry amphitheatre, interactive education programs, hiking and nature walks. Opportunities for sustainable local employment and tax revenue through eco-tourism and cultural tourism will be lost forever if the land is paved for an industrial park.

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who’s spoken out for Eco Echo’s vision of a sustainable green economy in the Gatineau! Join hundreds of neighbors who are taking a stand for a better future.

Contact Coun. Louis Rompre (Ward 6) at lrompre@villelapeche.ca or 819-459-3233 to insist on a referendum.

Low Down to Hull and Back-August 25, 2010 by Christopher Minnes

What’s my vision for La Pêche? Citizens working together for sustainable economic development in the Outaouais while avoiding the costly mistakes of other urban areas.

The La Pêche council plans for a 100-acre industrial park threaten this potential.

Our non-profit Outaouais Environmental Campus (known as Eco Echo) grew in response to the community’s desire for a shared green space and outdoor activity centre.

Established in 2008 by a dedicated group of volunteers, Eco Echo supports the Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development (MDDEP) goal to “protect the environment and natural ecosystems for current and future generations” and “promote sustainable development”. In partnership with local businesses and the municipality, Eco Echo can help establish La Pêche as a regional leader for the new economy.

In 2001, I inherited the 160-acre farm that has been in my family since 1973. After five years of research and planning, Eco Echo began developing programs to prepare young people for the green jobs of the future.

We’re creating a regional educational centre, stimulating agricultural tourism and providing a location to welcome businesses committed to sustainable practices. We’re offering opportunities for local farmers to share their expertise while meeting a growing public demand for healthy, organic produce. We’re considering a community of affordable and healthy homes within walking distance of the Wakefield village.

In its first two seasons Eco Echo programs reached over 1,000 people. We held fruit-tree grafting and landscaping workshops, offered summer nature camps, welcomed outdoor groups and engaged families at lively community events. Last spring, a pilot project brought neighbours together to grow fresh fruit in the La Pêche Organic Community Orchard. This has potential for an expanded “pick your own” orchard to attract tourists and supply local markets.

Our planning and partnership development is starting to pay dividends, but there’s a catch. Representatives from the University of Ottawa want to develop programs and build an environmental learning centre to train West Quebec teachers and play host to educational conferences. Agrotop Holdings Ltd. wants to invest in a centre of regional excellence to demonstrate sustainable organic agriculture, but has postponed its decision to see if the La Pêche council supports Eco Echo’s mission.

I’ve seen this model working successfully, when I raised $15 million for a non-profit group called TreePeople for a cutting-edge environmental education centre. That conference centre and its teaching garden are a vibrant space where municipal officials, politicians, business leaders and volunteers solve community problems and connect with young people.

Eco Echo offers the same opportunity for residents of the Outaouais. Join other concerned citizens who want a healthy place to raise their kids. Share your knowledge and experience at Eco Echo!