Mayor signs green pact

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Mayor signs green pact

Biodiversity; But won’t commit to Meadowbrook

By MICHELLE LALONDE, The Gazette, April 29, 2010

Within moments of signing a declaration promising to protect biodiversity and green up Montreal yesterday, Mayor Gérald Tremblay faced tough questions on specific threatened green spaces, including Meadowbrook and a downtown community garden.

The mayor was among 20 local politicians, corporate leaders, housing organizations and environmental groups who signed the “Declaration of the Island of Montreal Community in favour of biodiversity and greening,” at a two-day Biodiversity Summit organized by a coalition of local environmental groups.

Coralie Deny, who heads the Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal, said the declaration is not only a way to put pressure on local politicians, but an awareness tool to get land owners of all stripes to think about the need to preserve wildlife habitats and green up the urban environment.

“People think about taking care of parks and street trees, but if we really want greenery and biodiversity in cities, we have to intervene on a large scale in a lot more places,” she said.

That means getting large public and private property owners to remove excess asphalt and plant trees and shrubs. Greenery on roofs and walls can become desperately needed habitat for birds and pollinating insects, she noted.

“We need imagination and everybody has to participate. So this declaration is to mobilize all the big players in terms of land owners in Montreal,” she said.

In a luncheon address, Tremblay spoke of Montreal’s richness in terms of natural attributes – the river, Mount Royal, its many large parks – as well as biodiversity-related organizations such as the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

He noted his administration has committed another $36 million to green space protection in its last budget.

After the speech, reporters asked Tremblay whether the declaration means his administration will commit to renaturalizing the Meadowbrook golf course in the city’s southwest, a 57-hectare green space on which a developer plans to build condos.

“It’s not a question of studies anymore, it’s a question of deciding whether it’s going to be green, or partly green with a residential or commercial project,” Tremblay said.

He said if the island council decides to make a park out of Meadowbrook, the city of Lachine would have to be compensated for a loss in potential tax revenue, because when Lachine residents voted to merge with Ville St. Pierre, it was understood that Meadowbrook would be developed.

The mayor also said he is reconsidering an executive committee decision to sell one of the city’s 78 community gardens to a developer.

“At the last city council, I asked that this project be studied more, so we are looking at it in a very different way now,” he said.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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Municipalities urged to save green spaces

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Municipalities urged to save green spaces

Last refuge for many species, conference told

By MONIQUE BEAUDIN, The Gazette  April 28, 2010

MONTREAL – With native plants and animals disappearing or facing extinction, and continuing pressure to develop agricultural lands, forests and natural spaces, it is urgent for Montreal-area municipalities to act, speakers at a biodiversity conference said yesterday.

The United Nations has declared 2010 the international year of biodiversity, and speakers yesterday said there is great potential to preserve biodiversity – the variety of plants, animals and ecosystems – in the Montreal region.

Protecting those organisms – from bacteria to fish, plants and humans – is a challenge as important as climate change, said Guy Garand of the Comité régional de l’environnement de Laval.

He made the comments at the Sommet Biodiversité Montréal, a two-day conference organized by the Comité régional de l’environnement de Montréal, which represents more than 100 environmental and social groups on the island.

In the greater Montreal region – which includes Laval, Longueuil, and the North and South Shores – more than 120 kinds of plants, trees, amphibians and birds are threatened, said biologist Kim Marineau. Already 63 different vines, eight kinds of plants and seven kinds of animals have disappeared. There are 37 forests left that are bigger than 500 hectares, Marineau said.

“Those small forests are the last refuge for many species,” Marineau said.

Only 1.2 per cent of land in the greater Montreal region has protected status, according to the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Ryan Young is a naturalist who was elected to Ste. Anne de Bellevue town council last fall promising to slow development in the Anse à l’Orme eco-territory on the West Island. He expressed frustration yesterday that activists have to try to get elected to municipal councils in order to protect green spaces.

Urgent action is required for green-space protection on the island of Montreal, he said.

“We are at a crucial point, it is an emergency,” he said, adding that the west-end Meadowbrook Golf Course, which is owned by a private developer, is among the land on the island that should be protected. “Anything that is green should remain green.”

Municipalities have all the tools they need – from zoning bylaws to legal precedents – to protect natural spaces, said biologist and lawyer Jean-François Girard.

“What we have is a lack of will,” said Girard, of the Centre québecois du droit de l’environnement. “If we want to protect natural spaces, we can do it.”

In Boucherville, city officials worked with Nature-Action Québec and local property owners to preserve forests and natural spaces in three different areas of the town, said Pierre Pion, Boucherville’s director of urban development. But Jean Hubert of Nature Quebec pointed out that it took pressure from citizens’ groups to get the municipal administration to act.

The conference continues today at the Gelber Conference Centre, 5151 Côte Ste. Catherine Rd. For details, go to

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In my opinion:  Expert after expert supports the preservation of Meadowbrook.  In the case of Cote Saint-Luc we have had the  vision and political will to protect this invaluable green space for years.  Now we need Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay and the Agglomeration Council to support the preservation of Meadowbrook.  If you agree with me, write letters to the papers, call Mayor Tremblay, make some noise!!