Suzuki Foundation cites endangered species – Pierrefonds west project must be stopped!
By: John Symon – mtltimes.ca
On Feb. 23, the David Suzuki Foundation revealed the results of two important environmental studies evaluating a large residential project planned for a 185 hectare parcel in western Pierrefonds. The first study found 270 species of flora and fauna there, some of which have endangered or vulnerable status. The second study examined how the proposed development would affect connectivity between wild places on Montreal Island and Île Bizard.
“The Montreal Agglomeration and the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro must stop this project,” declared Jean-Patrick Toussaint, the Suzuki Foundation’s head of scientific projects. “Quebec City and Ottawa must issue emergency orders under Quebec’s law on endangered species and Ottawa’s legislation on imperiled species.”
The first study, an Évaluation écologique de l’ouest du territoire de Pierrefonds- Roxboro, notes the presence of many rare birds, reptiles, amphibians, and plants in this sector. One plant, black snakeroot (Sanicula canadensis) was thought to have already disappeared from Montreal Island. Some 18 threatened bird species are found where the development is planned; nine of these nest there, including bobolinks and barn swallows. There is also a remarkable list of species that many people might not expect on Montreal Island: deer, coyotes, minks, martens, fishers, and golden eagles.
One of the scientists who co-authored the Ecological Assessment, Marie-Eve Roy, mentioned that her study was only started in August and more species would certainly have been enumerated had the study been done in springtime when flowers are visible and bird calls are more audible. Roy also described how the wetlands and wet meadows both moderate flow and filter water in a nearby stream. “This stream empties into Lake of Two Mountains beside the Cap St. Jacques swimming beach. Water pollution will be a likely consequence of the development…”
The second study looked at how the proposed development could fragment wilderness and make it more difficult for local fauna to migrate. The example was given of how a crossing a road can be difficult or fatal for many species of amphibians or reptiles. This study concluded: “that development will have a detrimental impact on the terrestrial biodiversity at multiple scales.” Both studies can be accessed through the Suzuki Foundation website.
In June 2015, Montreal mayor Denis Coderre proposed the development of up to 6,000 homes on 185 hectares in Pierrefonds west, the last large, unprotected green space on Montreal Island. At the same time, he set aside 180 hectares as a protected conservation area. Critics, such as David Fletcher of the Green Coalition, point out that most of the protected area is on a flood plain and could not have been built on anyways.
“It is ironic” continued Fletcher “that the United Nations initiated the worldwide Decade on Biodiversity in 2010 right here in Montreal. And yet today we are endangering biodiversity…”
Instead of building on green space, housing projects are better put on old industrial land, such as the former Angus Yards, environmentalists claim.