No rain? Hey, let’s build another golf course!

As I write, the sunshine is creating thousands of diamond-like reflections from water droplets on leaves of trees, grass, flowers. Unfortunately, rain is a rare sight this summer and the forecast - yet again - calls for relentlessly “good weather.” That is, no rain, more sunshine.

What we received today in the way of precipitation hardly did a thing, other than once again raise humidity levels.

We are not alone here in the Pontiac and West Québec. Throughout North America and the world, widespread drought is a reality. It’s one thing for city dwellers. It’s entirely a different thing for rural residents, many of whom are agricultural professionals who are producing our food supply.

Weather statistics for July indicate that we only received one-third of the average rainfall for that month… Yet we experienced soaring temperatures that broke the record at least one day.

Meanwhile, people are taking precautions, conserving water as best they can. And when push comes to shove, water must be saved for human and then animal consumption. Forget the rosebush.

Today I spoke with a Pontiac resident who is using mulch in her garden as a way to conserve water in their vegetable plot. With roughly a hundred head of cattle, plus an active family, this individual is ensuring that the family and their cattle have access to water first.

As well, our Pontiac woodlands are alarmingly dry. Last week I was at our family cottage on the Rivière Noire system and I do not recollect ever seeing the woods so dry: deciduous trees are wilting and it is unsettling at best to see the forest so stressed.

It’s not just the trees that are suffering. The floor of the forest looks as dry as our garden lawns, where crisp brown grass proves how parched the soil is.

And although I’ve not seen them, tributaries to many of our major rivers are almost dry. Saturday’s Ottawa Citizen showed an almost-dry Jock River, for instance, and I’ve heard other reports of rivers flowing into the Rideau, that are devoid of water.

So it is that water restrictions are in effect. Watering lawns is not permitted in towns and villages, although one person I spoke to over a week ago said he was turning on his sprinklers after dark. (Surely his nice green lawn will be a dead giveaway…)

So what’s going on? Water is touted as a renewable resource. What gives?

Water is only “renewable” insofar as it is replenished via the natural cycle of rain, storage in underground aquifers, evaporation… and more precipitation.

However, because our climate is changing… for many reasons… and because our world consumption is increasing, water’s renewable “promise” might just be broken.

Why? For starters, we take water completely for granted. We do not conserve it effectively. We do not view our seemingly endless supply of potable (i.e., clean and drinkable water) as a valued resource that is fundamental to our existence.

Get that? Without water we will die.

Despite this motherhood statement of truth, “everyone” appears to be abusing the water supply. And it starts from the top, from our civic leaders and government officials.

Just imagine this: yet another golf course is now being proposed for our region, this time in Hull, adjacent to the Casino, which will swallow up a large portion of Lac Leamy Park.

Excuse me? A golf course is one gigantic lawn, isn’t it? In my opinion, we do not need yet another one.

Many of you will be totally annoyed with me, I know. You will rightfully assert that golf is a wonderful pastime. And as an outdoors enthusiast, you can bet that I would heartily applaud most activities that get people outside, in the fresh air, and exercising. Who wouldn’t?

But at what cost? We must examine the costs… the environmental costs.

Now for sure the excellent folks who specialize in turf farms are to be lauded for developing increasingly drought-resistant types of grass for golf courses and lawns. This is a good thing.

But what of the water that is involved to keep such golf courses artificially green? What of the herbicides, pesticides used to keep it lush, weed-free, and supple so that the ball glides unimpeded on its surface?

What of the fact that Lac Leamy Park, today, is home to a host of species? What of the fact that today it is open to everyone who wants to use it. It is not a limited-access golf course where only members or the paying public can go.

Tell me this: isn’t it time that we stop denuding our only Mother Earth of her even remotely “natural mantle” of vegetation to create artificial habitats that are entirely dependent upon non-renewable resources?

… Or am I missing something? You tell me.

If you feel strongly about staying the hands of the developers and preventing the destruction of parkland, please contact Gérard Desjardins, Club des ornithologues de l’Outaouais, Responsable des projets spéciaux,, Tél.: (819) 682-1717 Fax.: (819) 682-6177. Gérard will be happy to send you copies of a petition, which is addressed to Mrs. Johanne Gélinas, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development of Canada.

Okay, so what does this petition and “some golf course in Hull” have to do with you?

If you are someone who wants our National Capital Region - the region which symbolizes Canada - to reflect the environmental ideals and aspirations of our country, then this issue does affect you. Why should we destroy bird habitats, destroy precious public greenspace in our National Capital Region to create an artificial, water- and chemical-dependent recreational ground for the few?

As Canadians and as Quebeckers, we should demand more responsible action from corporate leaders and government officials.


Keep our National Capital Region and it’s enviable Greenbelt alone. We don’t need or want another golf course. (Hey you golfers. Support Pine Lodge, Pontefract Golf Course, Norway Bay Golf Course…. Instead! These courses are already built, in operation, and eager to welcome you all.)

Stand up and be counted. Contact Gérard Desjardins. Ask him to fax you or e-mail you a copy of his petition. Sign it. Get your neighbours to sign it. Get your co-workers to sign it. Mail it back before September 10… but don’t wait too long. You know how summer flies by..


Katharine Fletcher telecomutes from her electronic cottage near Quyon, Québec. Contact her at