Massive tree cuttings near former Motel Raphael – NDG authorities will fine those responsible

Massive tree cuttings near former Motel Raphael – NDG authorities will fine those responsible
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By: John Symon –

There has recently been a second massive tree-cutting near the former Motel Raphael on Ste. Anne de Bellevue Blvd. Last August, some two hectares of trees were bulldozed in the same area by contractors working for the Quebec Ministry of Transport (MTQ) on the Saint-Jacques Escarpment, but this time it is private landowners who ordered the cutting.

In recent years, appreciation has grown for the value of urban greenery for its role in moderating temperatures, especially in the summer and reducing the effect of “urban heat islands.”

Billboards provide sense of scale ©Lisa Mintz

Billboards provide sense of scale ©Lisa Mintz

“This particular stretch of Montreal – along Highway 20 at the foot of the Escarpment – is particularly affected by heat islands. The problem was addressed in Quebec’s last Climate Action Plan, but despite funding we were able to secure, elevated temperatures impinge the neighbourhood every summer,” explained David Marshall, Executive Director of Revitalization Saint-Pierre.

”Saint Pierre faces comparably higher temperatures every summer, upwards of 2 to 3 degrees C higher than greener neighbourhoods on top of the Escarpment. Trees and green spaces have been planted to counter the problem, but losing additional forested zones in the vicinity would counteract our re-greening efforts that were actually funded provincially.”

Birdwatchers are also among those concerned about the loss of trees as many birds are arriving back in Montreal.

“Migratory birds absolutely depend on being able to rest and forage on their way north.  Parcels of habitat such as the Falaise St-Jacques and its surroundings are critical because they are ‘islands’ in a sea of asphalt and concrete which offer no sustenance or rest stops for birds,” explained Alison Hackney from Bird Protection Quebec.

This recent tree cutting may have been the result of a misunderstanding between Montreal and the landowners.

“The owners claim they cut (the trees) in order to clean up the land as the city asked them to, and our services will be fining them because clean up does not mean cut. Obviously this could be a lesson for us, and we should make sure that when the city threatens to fine land owners for dumping that they explicitly state that no tree cutting is allowed,” commented NDG Councillor Peter McQueen.

While the identity of the landowners is not known at press time, the area affected is below the Parmalat Dairy.

“In order to stand up to the powerful landowners  local political people only have leverage when supported by an informed and involved population,” said Loyola Councillor Jeremy Searle.

“It is very unfortunate that an owner believes cleanup of their land involves reducing it to mud.  It is unfortunate for the birds and animals living there.  It is also very unfortunate, health wise, for the humans in the vicinity,” said Lisa Mintz of Sauvons la Falaise.

There has recently been an epidemic of urban trees being cut or threatened actions. As mentioned, the MTQ cut trees on St. Jacques Escarpment in 2015; The Times understands that the MTQ is also cutting trees along de la Verendrye Blvd in LaSalle; we previously reported that Hydro Quebec is in talks concerning cutting of trees in Montreal West and elsewhere; there is also tree cutting by contractors working on construction of the new Champlain Bridge.

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