A former Outaouais quartz mine that became a popular off-the-beaten-path tourist destination has now been blocked off to the public.
Metal barricades now restrict access to the Wallingford-Back mine near Mulgrave-et-Derry, Que., a spokesperson for the office of local MNA Alexandre Iracà told Radio-Canada on Friday.
A trench has also been dug five metres from the main entrance to keep vehicles away, they said.
Located approximately 60 kilometres northeast of Ottawa, the mine had become a popular destination for paddlers, ice skaters, photographers and other explorers, drawn to its turquoise water and imposing rock pillars.
The plan to barricade the mine was hatched after nearby residents complained about traffic, noise, litter and other nuisances along the winding private road to the site.
Officials have said that the water is contaminated and that debris is falling from the mine’s ceiling, rendering the site unsafe.
Shuttered since 1970s
The Wallingford-Back mine was once one of the largest producers of quartz, mica and feldspar in Canada, but has been closed since the 1970s.
Supporters of the mine have lauded the site for its natural beauty, its importance to Quebec’s mining history and its potential as a tourist site.
They spoke out vociferously after Quebec’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources issued an ultimatum in late 2016 to the local municipality: either invest money to secure the site, or prepare for its demolition.
In a French-language statement to Radio-Canada, Mulgrave-et-Derry Mayor Michael Kane lauded the decision to barricade the mine.
“Citizens living near the mine have been able to regain their quality of life, as parking problems seem to have disappeared and emergency vehicles can now travel [the road] without difficulty,” Kane said.