Dorval woods – There is a new development in the McConnell Woods controversy in Dorval. The municipality has confirmed a rumour posted on the Facebook page of the Dorval News and Political Discussions group.
“Stay tuned:” says a terse post all written in upper case letters: “a proposal has been sent by a civil engineer (Dorval resident) to the new owners of the JW McConnell estate that would save the forest and allow for very profitable development.” No further details were given as of Friday afternoon.
“Yes, there has been a deal reached that will save much of the greenspace on the McConnell property,” confirmed Sebastien Gauthier, the communications officer in Dorval. “This has been our objective from the get go. This is not our property, but in the past few months and weeks we have been able to make an agreement.”
Gauthier was unable, however, to provide more specific details about how many of the trees could be saved, saying only that Mayor Edgar Rouleau would be best able to answer those questions. But Rouleau was away on vacation until August 13.
The City of Dorval offered $15.1 million for the land in 2017, hoping to save the expansive estate located at 1200 Lakeshore Dr. But the bid was not accepted by a representative of the Estate of the late Kathleen Griffith-McConnell-Laing .The terrain measures 540,000 sq feet (about 12 acres or 5 hectares) and the municipal evaluation is $11 million.
The Times understands that the property is worth at least $30 million if subdivided into private homes, many of which would be on the lakefront. Laval-based Presti Homes and Developments is identified as the developer.
In 2017, a petition with over 2,340 names was presented Dorval City council, asking that the McConnell Woods be preserved reported The Gazette. Rouleau has called preserving this land “a must” but his earlier attempts were unsuccessful.
There have been lively council meeting question periods on this topic, with Rouleau fending off criticisms that his efforts to buy the land were only meant to silence his critics.
“It would be fantastic if the trees can be saved,” comments environmentalist Lisa Mintz. “But protecting biodiversity would require saving the land, too. There are vultures and songbirds using the property now; a housing development would probably scare them away.” Mintz has visited the property which she describes as having “many beautiful and huge trees.”
The Times understands that the former McConnell house was offered for sale recently for $1, on the condition that the buyer move it off the property. Failing that, demolition awaits the house.
John Wilson McConnell (1877-1963) was once one of the wealthiest people in Canada according to the McConnell Foundation website. He was involved with many prominent companies, including former The Montreal Star newspaper, but was also known for his philanthropy and community work. A foundation named after him carries on this legacy today.
Feature image: (Left) View of McConnell estate. Courtesy L Mintz – (Right) Lisa Mintz with maple tree on McConnell property. Courtesy L Mintz