Biodiversity Crisis in Montreal – Why are we still building on Montreal green space like Meadowbrook Golf Course?
Montreal green space – Montreal is doing a very poor job preserving local biodiversity and protecting green spaces says a panel of environmentalists. This emerged from a panel discussion on October 31 organized by the Green Coalition and Sierra Club Quebec. Panelists talked specifically about wet meadows in Pierrefonds West, wetlands in St-Laurent’s Technoparc, Meadowbrook Golf Course beside Montreal West, and the St. Jacques Escarpment.
“Montreal is the international headquarters of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. However, the city’s biodiversity is increasingly threatened and Montreal’s lack of environmental action is dishonoring all its citizens and tarnishing the prestige of the Secretariat,” said Patrick Barnard of the Green Coalition.
“The UN Decade of Biodiversity was initiated here in Montreal at City Hall in 2010,” added David Fletcher who notes Montreal officially committed to saving much of its territory as green space. “Instead, we dishonourably adopted lesser targets and Montreal’s exceptional natural heritage is being destroyed.”
Both Pierrefonds West and Technoparc have endangered species of birds nesting there or in close proximity, but these areas are still threatened with development.
Louise Legault of Les Amis du parc Meadowbrook spoke about one of the few “success stories” in preserving green space. After 25 years of lobbying and court battles, the Meadowbrook case is now “resolved” in that it is zoned parkland. But it remains private land open only to golfers; those who walk dogs or cross-country ski there are trespassing.
Many speakers addressed the precipitous population declines of many species of birds, insects, amphibians, etc. “We will soon be forced to eat oatmeal,” declared Don Hobus, mentioning that bees are projected to go extinct around 2035. He added that after we lose pollinating insects, there will be much less food to eat.
Hobus revealed that he is no great fan of the current mayor of Montreal, suggesting that, “his best friends are land developers.”
The eight panellists were also very critical of a recent poll suggesting that most people in Pierrefonds West are in favour of the proposed residential development there. They called this a “push poll,” paid for by the developer and giving skewed results. “It is more significant that almost 20,000 people have signed a petition to save the area as greenspace. We also have the support of 87 percent of those presenting at the recent OCPM public hearings on this project,” said Alison Hackney of Sauvons l’Anse à l’Orme.
Both the Sierra Club and Green Coalition have called for a 10 year moratorium on all green space development on Montreal Island. This is to give the city time to honour its commitments and save some 10 percent of the land area as green space. Currently, less than six percent is saved; to reach our targets means acquiring some 2,000 additional hectares of green space—the equivalent of 10 Mount Royal Parks.
“We cannot afford to lose another hectare of greenspace,” says Barnard, pointing out that there are some 5,000 hectares of abandoned industrial land on Montreal Island that could be developed instead.
**disclaimer: the author is a candidate in the November 5 municipal elections**