© Guardian photo
Sharon Labchuk at the lookout over Strathgartney Provincial Park. Labchuk expressed concerns the government plans to divert the TransCanada through the park.
There is no need to build a highway through Strathgartney Provincial Park, says Green party leader Sharon Labchuk.
Labchuk was at the park Wednesday where she said she is circulating a petition to try and stop any development through the park before it even starts.
“We want to nip this project in the bud before it gets too far,” she said.
Transportation Minister Ron MacKinley mentioned the project during the fall sitting of the legislature but provided few details other than to say it would improve the highway between Churchill and Borden-Carleton.
The plan is to make the road safer by removing sharp turns, steep hills and dangerous intersections that cross the highway.
A spokesman for the Transportation Department said nothing has been confirmed yet and consultations will take place before a plan is finalized.
Labchuk held a news conference at the scenic lookout at Strathgartney with a view of the forest behind her as she talked about her concerns related to a potential change to the highway.
She worries the highway will re-route through the provincial park, which has a rare beech forest and is a protected space.
“It’s a very special ecological place,” she said.
Labchuk also wants to change the regulations that allow the government to delist areas that have been designated as protected spaces.
“A protected area is a protected area,” she said.
There is so little protected land in P.E.I. that none should be delisted and areas are protected because they have some sort of ecologic significance, she said.
“I can’t think of any good reason to delist a protected area.”
As part of her announcement, Labchuk also promised a basic level of protection for unincorporated areas when it comes to development.
Incorporated areas, such as Charlottetown, have bylaws to protect residents, but unincorporated areas don’t.
Labchuk said she wants protection against developments that are not appropriate for communities and don’t give residents a say in their construction.
She gave several examples of developments that would fall under her proposal including a shooting range built last year in South Granville and a mink farm in Springton.
“Development, noise, nuisance. Things that devalue property and cause people to lose money,” she said.