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Protecting a community


A small group of cabin owners are protesting a new rock quarry that could have a serious effect on their way of living.

Delia Beaudoin, Jeffrey Hobbs, Gino Beaudoin, and Daniel Jones stand at the branch of the road heading out to Lac Carré and declare ‘No Rockpit at Lac Carré’. They’ve been protesting a potential rock quarry that will destroy a great deal of land behind their cabins at the pond. Behind them is their vehicles blocking off access to the road that will lead to the land’s destruction. Stephen Roberts photo

These nine cabins are situated beside a small lake outside the Quebec community of Brador, west of Blanc Sablon, known as Lac Carré. Behind the lake is a large hill of rock. It is at this hill, starting at 70 metres to the right (as you enter) of the road, that local contractor Fernand Dumas hopes to do blasting for a rock quarry.

The rock quarry is allowed to be up to 600 metres in length and width if Dumas desires.

However, the cabin owners are concerned that the rock blasting could have a number of negative effects. They believe the dust and tar will destroy the berry life, pollute the waters, and potentially damage the Brador water supply, as well as the underground water sources that feed the lake, amongst a variety of other issues.

Gino Beaudoin is one of the cabin owners. He was central in starting the protests when he blocked off Dumas’ excavator from entering the road with his truck on Sept. 23.

Beaudoin says that Dumas declared the moment they leave he’ll be entering with his excavator. Therefore he and the other cabin owners, as well as other friends and family, have not moved from the branch of the road – a road they built out to the cabins themselves – since that time, taking shifts protecting their home away from home.

“He’s saying we’re stopping access to his site but if he comes here with his equipment and his machinery, and dynamiting, he’s stopping us from having access,” says Beaudoin. “He might not be stopping it completely but he’s going to slow our access down and he’s going to stop our freedom in here.”

Beaudoin’s family has been coming to the lake since 1980 when his father built the first cabin there. Beaudoin has since taken over the lease for that cabin. He says the whole site has been passed down from one generation to the next.

Most everyone there are also relatives and locals from Lourdes-de-Blanc Sablon and Beaudoin says they’ll often have get-togethers of upwards to 100 people.

“We have a fire, we go for a ride in the canoe, the kids go swimming, and we have boats here all over the place,” explains fellow cabin owner Daniel Jones.

It is this sense of family togetherness and privacy they fear they will lose when construction begins on the rock quarry. The noise and presence of a large number of workers could potentially destroy the atmosphere of the quaint little community they have created for themselves.

It is also a rare place where their children can enjoy outdoor activities, free from modern technologies such as smart phones, Ipods and computers.

If the rock quarry is to go ahead, there is a concern that they will have to keep their children on a leash due to the dangers they believe the blasting may present.

The cabin owners pay taxes to the municipality but they say the municipality has been of no help, and has allowed Dumas to move the snowmobile trail the required 70 metres away such that the site of the rock quarry will be as he desires.

Mary Letto of Blanc-Sablon doesn’t own a cabin at the pond but she sympathizes with their situation.

“I do have a cabin elsewhere and if the municipality says that they can’t prevent anyone from doing this, they can go ahead and do it the same place where I have my cabin,” she says.

Letto decided that she ought to take a stand along with the cabin owners and she calls for everyone in the municipality of Blanc-Sablon to stand up along with them in their protest.

“I’m trying to get more and more people to come here because they need to understand we need to work together,” she says.

Currently, the group is fairly small and therefore they have to take long shifts remaining parked at the road all through the night.

Jones, for example, says he works from midnight to eight in the morning. On Tuesday, after finishing work, he came right back to the cabin road for a shift until one in the afternoon, before taking a nap in the afternoon and returning again with his children at three.

Beaudoin says on Monday, when they started their protest, he was there from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm the following day.

This sort of schedule will be difficult to maintain without more people helping their cause, allowing for smaller shifts.

Beaudoin, too, wants more people to feel comfortable standing up when they believe they are being wronged.

“I think it’s time for the people now to wake up and open up and not be scared to speak for what they believe in.”

The Northern Pen was unable to reach Blanc-Sablon mayor Tony Dumas while Fernand Dumas declined to comment.

 

stephen.roberts@northernpen.ca

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