Environmentalists protest Technoparc destruction – About 100 environmentalists gathered outside the provincial courthouse in Montreal on Monday morning, protesting the destruction of local wetlands. Later, inside the courthouse, a judge listened to arguments by the Green Coalition for an injunction to stop work in the Technoparc area of the St. Laurent borough. Arguing against this were lawyers for Montreal and the Quebec Ministry of the Environment.
“This is no way to treat your friends; the City is trying to put the Green Coalition out of business,” said Campbell Stuart addressing the crowd, but also addressing someone not present: Mayor Valérie Plante. Stuart is a lawyer and spokesman for the Legacy Fund For The Environment, which is funding the case.
As Stuart explained, the supposedly “environmentally-friendly” Plante administration is refusing to save the wetlands. And beyond that, it is being vengeful, asking the judge to order the Green Coalition to pay $30,000 in costs.
“This not what we expected of Mayor Plante,” vented Alison Hackney, one of the environmentalists. Hackney was active in 2017 trying to get Plante’s Projet Montréal party elected. She says that others in the crowd also worked to elect Plante.
“The Green Coalition is small non-profit group with no notable revenue sources,” continued Hackney “We rely on donations from our members, citizens who do this to protect birds and wetlands.”
The application for the injunction was originally filed in 2016, when the City was being run by the Coderre administration. “The Plante administration is now calling the shots, and they want us to believe they are different. Yet here they are, incomprehensibly, determined to continue and complete the destruction,” Stuart emailed The Times.
Later that morning, expert witnesses for the Green Coalition testified that the environmental studies for Technoparc saying were done outside of the plant flowering or bird nesting season, making it very difficult to establish the environmental value of the area.
Those studies—on which work authorizations were based–dismissed the area as being of little environmental importance. But, since 2016, birdwatchers in Technoparc area and adjacent federal lands just north of Trudeau Airport have counted 189 species of birds there according to the eBird website. This including endangered species such as Least Bitterns and Wood Thrushes, nesting on site. The area is now recognized as one of the top bird-watching spots in Quebec.
In 2016, construction work began, including access roads, cutting thousands of trees and draining marshes,. This has already caused a serious decline in numbers of birds and other species writes Stuart. The injunction was filed to stop that work.
Environmentalists became optimistic in 2018 when the City of Montreal announced it would dissolve the non-profit board of Technoparc after Montreal’s auditor general found many problems with that board’s governance and accountability. But this has not yet led to restoration of the wetlands and their biodiversity.
Ironically, Plante was last year named as an ambassador for the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), a German-based international movement for sustainable development and protection of biodiversity.
“Plante should step down as the ICLEI ambassador for protecting biodiversity,” Hackney told The Times.
Feature image: Environmentalists gather on steps of the Palais de Justice (courthouse) in Old Montreal on Monday morning. Photo: John Symon