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© 2017 Haley Ritchie

Petition launched to save scenic Quebec cave from demolition

The abandoned mine has become a huge tourist attraction, bringing people from as far as Toronto and Montreal.

An abandoned Quebec mine that’s been described as an “underground cathedral” is at risk of being demolished after its popularity has resulted in trash, parking issues and angry locals.

A sudden influx of breathtaking Instagram pictures and YouTube exploration videos has increased the location’s number of visitors. But the site – roughly an hour’s drive from Ottawa – isn’t equipped to deal with hundreds of people, and all the garbage, broken bottles, cars and human waste have left locals frustrated.

The response has been a crackdown on trespassers and a final notice from Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources directed at officials in the Papineau region.

The ministry says a tourist plan needs to be created quickly, or the mine will be dynamited for safety reasons.

Chantal Crête doesn’t want to see that happen. She’s created a petition to spread the word and said the “Friends of the Mine” group has been surprised by the huge response.

“You know at first we were very concerned and very sad about the whole situation, but looking back now, perhaps the threat of dynamite is the best thing that could happen to it,” said Crête. “In the sense it woke people up.”

“It’s such a spectacular place. There’s no way we can let that unique place be destroyed. It has so much potential,” she said.

Crête recognizes the current issues with the site, but wants to see some investment to make it tourist friendly and give it a geological heritage designation.

The idea has not been universally embraced – on October 16 a group of around 20 local residents gathered with signs to protest.

The protest group intercepted a bus full of business owners and journalists who were being given a tour of the site by the Friends of the Mine group.

The Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources has given MRC Papineau a short timeline to come up with a plan – or the site will be dynamited for safety reasons.

“My heart goes to the people living there, really. If I was a citizen there I’d probably have been one of the first to denounce the situation,” said Crête.

“But we’re smart enough to sit around the table and find some solutions. There’s a way to do so in respect to the people that live around there and the respect of the environment too.”