West Quebec mayors accept plan to block entry to popular mine

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West Quebec mayors accept plan to block entry to popular mine

The mayors of MRC de Papineau unanimously accepted a recommendation from Quebec's Ministry of Natural Resources Wednesday to put up barriers to permanently secure a former mine that had become popular with weekend adventurers.

Paulette Lalande, the prefect of the MRC de Papineau, told Radio-Canada that barriers anchored in the ground will be placed at the entrance of the old quartz mine so that no one can get there.

Trenches will also be dug on the road leading to the mine to prevent vehicles from passing.

The Wallingford-Back Mine, located approximately 60 kilometres northeast of Ottawa, has become a popular destination for paddlers, ice skaters, photographers and other explorers who are drawn to its turquoise water and imposing rock pillars.

"Those who want to go to the mine will be able to go to the barriers, but they will not be able to go beyond that," Lalande said Wednesday. 

"At the beginning, we were talking about dynamiting the mine, it's out of the question."

Last fall, the province told the regional municipality, which includes the municipality of Mulgrave-et-Derry where the former mine is located, to either block the mine to trespassers or destroy it.

Nearby residents have complained about the traffic, noise, litter and other nuisances generated by the steady stream of visitors who travel the winding private road to see the mine.

The municipality asked the province to come up with a plan, which Quebec's Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources presented at a council of mayors meeting Wednesday night.

Papineau MP Alexandre Iracà said in a statement Wednesday he was "satisfied" with the choice of the mayors.

The ministry plans to present the public with the details of its plan to permanently secure the former mine on Thursday morning.

Mine shuttered since 1970s

Closed since the 1970s, the Wallingford-Back mine was once one of the largest producers of quartz, mica and feldspar in Canada.

Residents say previous attempts to block access to the mine have failed.

Supporters of the mine have lauded the site for its natural beauty, its importance to Quebec's mining history and its potential as a carefully developed tourist site.