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.
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