Technoparc of Ville St. Laurent Endangered species in way of construction
by: John Symon – mtltimes.ca
Construction work has been delayed to extend Alfred Nobel Blvd. through a marsh, now that the presence of endangered species has been revealed in the Technoparc of Ville St. Laurent . Environmentalists and birdwatchers are hoping for much more than a two-week delay and are pressing municipal, provincial, and federal authorities to permanently protect what they call “the Everglades of Quebec.”
Ironically, some of the work is planned to build the Hubert Reeves Eco-Campus, named for an astrophysicist who has spoken out publicly on the need to protect biodiversity. The best way to do this is generally protecting habitat where endangered species live. Other projects planned for this area of VSL include a station for the Caisse REM electric train, supporting infrastructure, and other buildings.
“I saw five Least Bitterns (North America’s smallest heron) here,” birdwatcher Joel Coutu told The Times. “There are only an estimated 1,500 of them in all of Canada, putting them on the endangered list. We have Wood Thrushes here, too, another threatened species.” He also mentions that Technoparc has the largest colony of Green Herons (rare but not endangered) in all Quebec.
The Times joined birdwatchers early Saturday morning, tromping around the marshes of Technoparc. It was astonishing to see how many birds, especially herons, could be found in three small marshes. There were also many other birds in evidence: Virginia Rails, Savannah Sparrows, Northern Oriole, Cedar Waxwings, Kestrels, and Red-tailed Hawks. There were also a lot of birdwatchers…
“We’ve counted 159 bird species, including more than 70 that nest here,” said Coutu. He puts less importance on very photogenic species—like Snowy Egrets—that only pass through the area. Coutu also claims that the three marshes are all connected and should be treated as one big marsh.
“This is the largest marsh on Montreal Island,” contends Coutu. “We also have woodlands habitat and, on the margins is prairie habitat. Together with the adjacent Dorval Golf course, this must be the largest green space on the Island. Right now, Technoparc rivals Ile Bizard (a birding hotspot) for the number of bird species present, but I am sure that once migration starts, this area will emerge as the number one birding location around Montreal.”
The Times also discovered thirty foot piles of fine dirt that Coutu says are intended for filling in part of the marsh to create a parking lot.
Plans for the Hubert Reeves Eco-Campus include preserving part of one of three marshes, but Coutu is very skeptical. Speaking of both Green Herons and Least Bitterns he said, “these are very shy birds and don’t want to be seen. After all development is finished, the birds will not come back.”