Injunction halts St-Laurent Technoparc work
Environmentalists have filed an injunction against construction work in the Technoparc area of St-Laurent. By Wednesday morning, heavy equipment fell silent on the $4.5 million extension of Alfred Nobel Blvd. The primary concern is for protection of rare and endangered bird species which nest within 500 metres of where roadwork began on Sept. 13.
According to court documents, other concerns involve many irregularities: the Certificat d’authorisation (CA), which expired in 2014, was based on outdated and incomplete environmental assessments. The envisioned work involves constructing a road in preparation for eight buildings in or around a wetland, and work on the REM train. This train is not even mentioned on the CA.
Lisa Mintz on behalf of the Green Coalition, filed the suit. Technoparc, the Montreal borough of St. Laurent, and the Quebec Ministry of the Environment (MDELCC) are named as co-defendants. A ruling is expected Sept 23.
“Interestingly, we are asking the MDELCC to pay for the environmentalists’ court costs,” lawyer Ricardo Hrtschan told The Times. “The Ministry has a pattern of neglecting to do its job protecting endangered species. Why should private citizens have to pay for this?” The Green Coalition is a non-profit organization with annual revenues of only about $3,000.
The injunction follows on the heels of a press conference on September 14. Then, Daniel Green, Deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada, stood at the edge of a marsh filled with birds, noting that the site was destined to soon be land-filled and transformed into a parking lot.
Normally, it is very difficult to obtain authorization to fill in a marsh. Here, the area is also within the 500 metre protective buffer zone to be created around the nesting site of a protected species—the Least Bittern—as prescribed by federal law.
Alan deSousa, the borough mayor of St. Laurent, and Technoparc spokesman Carl Baillergeon have told other media that they are breaking no laws with the work that began Sept. 13. Baillergeon and Mintz debated the issue on CBC radio on Sept. 14.
“DeSousa is trying to say that just because federal Environment Minister McKenna didn’t pick up a phone and tell him to stop, that he has permission to proceed. This is complete nonsense; like anyone else, he has to respect the law whether a government minister tells him to or not!” says Green.
Apart from the Least Bittern, court documents also mention five other threatened species that nest in Technoparc. Some of these species—like Barn Swallows—were previously common, but North America has lost a billion and a half wild birds since 1970 and alarming declines continue each year. The main cause is habitat destruction.
By: John Symon – mtltimes.ca