Is Montreal West Snow Dump being enlarged? Are wetlands being destroyed?
There has been a lot of activity in early December at the Montreal West snow dump off of Bedbrook Ave, but curiously there was been little snow to haul then. Local environmentalist Lisa Mintz is concerned that the town is filling in a wetland surrounding the snow dump; she is also angered by Montreal West officials not returning her telephone calls.
“I went to the November and December Town Hall meetings to speak during the question period, mentioning my concerns,” Mintz told The Times. “I toured the snow dump Nov. 30 with Public Works director Rylan Wadsworth and he seemed genuinely surprised to find numerous piles of dirt, leaves and garden debris freshly dumped into the wetlands. He told me that these materials should not be found there and that the leaves would be cleaned up by Dec. 2.”
Clandestine photos taken there on Dec. 4 show no evidence of the leaves being removed and, on the contrary, there seems to have been more infilling of the surrounding wetland. It is unclear if the Quebec Ministry of the Environment recognizes this area as wetland; if so, such infilling is presumably illegal. The snow dump, on CP land, is situated so that the only road access is past the Public Works office and the area is very difficult to view without trespassing.
“Trucks were frequently dumping loose dirt there in July. In the days after Dec. 4, there was intensive activity in the snow dump with trucks and bulldozers working well into the night,” claims Mintz. “Neither Wadsworth nor Mayor Beny Masella were returning my phone calls. From all evidence, the Town was trying to quickly fill in the rest of the wetland.”
Mintz has posted photos and videos on her “Sauvons la Falaise” Facebook page. The photos show freshly dumped earth on top of a marshy area and the videos show bulldozers pushing dirt, presumably into the wetland. Mintz points to recent Google Earth images that suggest this, too. She suspects that Montreal West is secretly trying to enlarge the snow dump, perhaps to also accept snow from nearby municipalities such as Hampstead.
“This wetland had fish and frogs living in it until quite recently,” claims Mintz. “It is also a very important migration stopover for many species of birds. In September, there were thousands of song sparrows and red-winged blackbirds there. The endangered brown snake lives in this area, too.”
Mintz mentions that apart from environmental and legal concerns, the snow dump road access traverses the St. Jerome AMT tracks at an unposted crossing and extra traffic there could pose a safety risk for the commuter train. The dump trucks are also very noisy, especially when backing up, in close proximity to residential areas of both Montreal West and Lachine.
The Times made multiple unsuccessful attempts to reach Wadsworth by telephone. We did receive email from town councillor Maria Torres (responsible for Public Works):
“(Wadsorth) explained, that every year the snow dump needs to be prepared for the winter. To accomplish this, the PW’s crew do a general clean up, including picking up dead leaves accumulated at the dump during the fall,” wrote Torres. She did not answer whether the dump was being enlarged.
by John Symon – mtltimes.ca