Pierrefonds West development blocked by Environmentalists at Montreal court house
By: John Symon – mtltimes.ca
Environmentalists announced on July 8 that they are using court procedures to try and block a 185 hectare residential development planned for Pierrefonds West. Speaking at a press conference outside the provincial courthouse in Old Montreal, Ricardo Hrtschan, Sue Stacho, and Olivier Jarda outlined the need to save green space on Montreal Island and detailed their plans to use the courts.
The environment groups involved are Sauvons L’Anse-à-l’Orme (Save Elm Cove), which is affiliated with the Green Coalition, and The Legacy Project, a legal group dedicated to defence of the environment. These groups have filed an injunction in Quebec superior court to reinstate part of the 185 hectares as agricultural land. A complaint has also been filed against Jean-Pierre Grilli, a developer, and lobbyist David Cliche for improper lobbying.
On June 25, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre described the project as an example of “sustainable development,” a label mocked by opposition councillor Craig Sauvé after the press conference. Up to 6,000 residential units could eventually be built in a sector of Pierrefonds that is still remarkably wild.
“I went bird-watching there on July 7 and saw a four-point buck (male deer) jump out of the grass a few feetaway from me,” said David Fletcher of the Green coalition. He also noted the presence of bobolinks, a bird species that has faced serious population declines in recent years. “We need to protect biodiversity on Montreal Island..”
“Montreal cannot possibly obtain its recently announced targets of preserving 10 percent of the island as green space unless it preserves large areas like Pierrefonds West,” added Fletcher. “ This area is a very important food supply for local animals. In winter, the deer survive by browsing on the red osier dogwood and sumac trees there. In the spring, the voles and field mice are a major food source for foxes, coyotes, kestrels, and hawks. It is crucial for local wildlife that many different habitats are preserved.”
“We have some wonderful environmental laws in this country. And if we can only just enforce them, this development will be stopped,” said Campbell Stuart, a lawyer also present at the press conference.
Recent articles The Gazette about a nearby land development issue in Pierrefonds West question why Montreal did not do more to expropriate private land owners in this sector. A National Post article describes some of those land owners as “a group of people and companies that are linked to a who’s who of the Montreal Mafia.”