Campaign to save Meadowbrook continues: Info meeting this Thursday

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Information meeting scheduled for continuous campaign to save Meadowbrook

Meadowbrook is nothing short of an oasis that must remain green in perpetuity

Many people in Côte Saint-Luc have heard about the ongoing campaign to save the Meadowbrook Golf Course from development and have it converted into a green space. Many have the impression that it is protected and that the work is over.

On ThursdayMay 11 (7 pm) Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook will hold an information meeting at St. Richard’s Parish in CSL (7070 Guelph Avenue, near Parkhaven) to update the public on the current status of the green space and to secure additional help to have the area converted into a regional nature park for the over 150,000 residents who live in the West End.

The meeting will feature several speakers and provide information on the green space and how it can be used by residents year-round for a variety of activities. There will be a special presentation on the many legal environmental battles in Montreal and a new legal defense organization, the Legacy Fund for the Environment.

All are welcome.

When: May 11th, 2017, 7 pm

Where: St. Richard’s Parish, 7070 Guelph CSL

For more information on Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook, go towww.lesamisdemeadowbrook.org, SOS Meadowbrook on Facebook or @Parc Meadowbrook on Twitter.

Source: MikeCohen.ca

Meadowbrook: Nature at its finest, just around the corner

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Meadowbrook. March 25, 2017. Source: Nigel Dove.

 

 

 

Meadowbrook. March 25, 2017. Source: Nigel Dove.

Meadowbrook developer launches $44M lawsuit against Montreal

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The Suburban, February 26, 2014

The more than 25-year saga of the attempted development of the Meadowbrook Golf Course took a new twist as it was revealed that a subsidiary of its latest owner, Groupe Pacific launched a $44 million lawsuit against the City of Montreal.

The city has twice rejected the developer’s plans for housing on the site, saying the infrastructure needed would be too costly. Groupe Pacific’s Suzanne Deschamps was not available for comment at press time.

In the early 1990s, other attempts were made to develop the site, but plans were shelved after much protest against development. In subsequent years, Côte St. Luc rezoned its side of the site recreational. The other side is primarily in Lachine.

Campbell Stuart, former Montreal West mayor and now spokesman for Les Amis de Meadowbrook, says the lawsuit involves transferring the Lachine part of the site to Montreal in exchange for $44 million, which would include more than $850,000 in damages. Groupe Pacific had launched a lawsuit against Côte St. Luc for $20 million when the city rezoned the site.

“We found it unacceptable for Groupe Pacific to have bought a $3 million, 57-hectare property in 2006, lobby illegally for years, trying to get the city to buy into a project and when the city refuses to throw $100 million at them as a subsidy, they turn around and sue the city for $44 million,” Stuart told The Suburban Monday. “It’s gouging. And the reason they can’t build on it was obvious when they bought it. They knew it couldn’t be developed because the Office de consultation publique de Montréal had already said ‘don’t build on it, turn it into an eco-territory’ and two years previously, the mayor of Montreal said he would protect it.”

In a previous interview, Deschamps denied she breached any codes or laws regarding lobbying.

Stuart also pointed to last year’s rail disaster in Lac Mégantic. One reason cited by activists not to develop the site is its close proximity to rail lines.

“The city mandated its urban planning department to, in unanimous resolutions of the agglomeration and city councils, put in its urban plan the 300-metre safety setbacks, which means it can’t be built on. But it could never be built on.

As well, Les Amis de Meadowbrook provided a 2012 letter from CP’s Breanne Feigel to Côte St. Luc councillor Dida Berku, saying the feasibility of a residential project on the site, in light of the proximity to rail lines, is “not compatible with our operations in the area…. CP does not support the location of any residential development directly adjacent to active rail corridors and yards.

Stuart said the lawsuit is “not just attacking the City of Montreal, they’re attacking us, the taxpayers. And we’re pleased with the city, they’re doing the right thing.”

More:

Terrain de golf Meadowbrook: 44 millions réclamés à la Ville (La Presse)

Citizen’s group decries developer’s lawsuit against city over Meadowbrook golf course (Montreal Gazette)

CBC News (Advance to 8:15)

In my opinion:

The landowners of Meadowbrook Golf Course continue on the futile path of a residential development adjacent to a major rail yard and commuter rail lines notwithstanding the horrific lessons learned by last year’s Lac Megantic disaster. The railway association reported almost twenty years ago that any such development would require explosion-proof glass and special ventilation systems.

Developing Meadowbrook as a residential development is contrary to the founding principles of this land acquisition, originally purchased by the railway for recreation and leisure by its employees long before Cote Saint-Luc homes mushroomed in the late 50s and 60s. And with the influx of tens of thousands of West End residents through the decades the need for green space for recreation, sport and leisure has only become more obvious, not to mention the need for this land mass for air purification and filtration, for separation of the polluting smokestacks of Lachine industry down the bluff,  for safe distance between rail lines and houses, for cooling the West End from Urban Heat Islands and more.

The City of Montreal shouldn’t budge from its position of refusing the development proposal, just as Cote Saint-Luc has done for many years now.

Please search “Meadowbrook’ on this blog for the complete history on this important issue.

Safety Setbacks Could Make Meadowbrook Residential Development Impossible

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The following article was written by Cote Saint-Luc Councillor Dida Berku and appeared in the Autumn 2013 Les Amis de Meadowbrook Newsletter.

I have supported Dida Berku from the outset in the quest to preserve Meadowbrook. You can get all the background info on this 25 year effort by searching “Meadowbrook” on this blog.

Dida’s efforts may very well benefit not only those of us who advocate to keep this invaluable piece of land as green space in perpetuity for all to enjoy, but many other spaces across the country.

Français ci-dessous

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Safety Setbacks Could Make Meadowbrook Residential Development Impossible

By Dida Berku

It is now clear that the catastrophic derailment in Lac Mégantic last July helped convince Montreal’s political leaders of the need for safety setbacks to protect new residences from the hazards of adjacent railways.

Last month, Montreal City Council and the mayors of all Island suburbs unanimously adopted a resolution directing the city’s urban planning department to integrate the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) proximity guidelines into the new urban plan of the Island of Montreal, scheduled to be adopted in 2014.

These guidelines were established by the FCM, which represents all cities across the country, and the Railway Association of Canada (RAC), which represents all its railway companies. The guidelines, first written a decade ago and updated in 2013, propose 30-metre setbacks from railway main lines and 300-metre setbacks from rail yards for all new housing projects.

Meadowbrook is 300 metres wide at the Cote St. Luc entrance and narrows to a point at the boundary of Lachine and Montreal West. Since Meadowbrook is adjacent to the CP yards in Cote St. Luc and the Sortin yards in Lachine, which houses AMT commuter railway repair shops, the adoption of these guidelines in Montreal’s new urban plan would make it practically impossible for any new homes to be built on this site.

For many years, Les Amis has advocated against building housing in proximity to the extensive rail lines and yards near the golf course. The adoption of these guidelines is a major step towards establishing Meadowbrook as a buffer zone between rail activities and housing.

I drafted the proposed resolution, and I can honestly say that this is one of the most gratifying accomplishments of my political career, and a critical milestone in the long journey to save Meadowbrook from development and transform it into a park.

Montreal will be the first city in Canada to embrace these guidelines and will be in a good position to ask the railways to improve the safety and security of their activities in our communities.

Now, let’s all see how we can leverage this resolution in our efforts to protect this precious green space. Meanwhile, Les Amis will continue to monitor and push for these guidelines to be adopted and integrated into the Island of Montreal’s new urban plan.

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Les retraits de sécurité pourraient rendre impossible le développement de Meadowbrook

par Dida Berku

La catastrophe de Lac Mégantic en juillet dernier a finalement convaincu les élus montréalais qu’il fallait des retraits de sécurité afin de protéger les nouvelles résidences des accidents ferroviaires.

Le mois denier, le conseil municipal de Montréal et les maires des villes de banlieue de l’île de Montréal ont unanimement adopté une résolution enjoignant au service d’urbanisme d’intégrer les directives de la Fédération canadienne des municipalités (FCM) dans le nouveau plan d’urbanisme de l’île de Montréal qui doit être adopté en 2014.

Ces directives ont été établies par la FCM, qui représente toutes les villes canadiennes, et l’Association des chemins de fer du Canada (ACFC), qui représente toutes les compagnies ferroviaires. Ces directives, rédigées il y a une dizaine d’années et mises à jour en 2013, proposent que tout nouveau projet résidentiel soit éloigné de 30 mètres des voies ferrées et de 300 mètres des gares de triage.

Meadowbrook fait 300 mètres de largeur à l’entrée de Côte St. Luc et se termine en pointe à la limite de Lachine et Montréal-Ouest. Puisque Meadowbrook voisine la gare de triage du CP à Côte St. Luc et la gare de triage Sortin à Lachine, où se trouvent les ateliers de l’AMT, l’adoption de ces directives rendrait à toutes fins impossible la construction de nouvelles maisons sur le site.

Depuis plusieurs années, Les Amis fait des représentations contre la construction de résidences à proximité des voies ferrées et des gares de triage près du terrain de golf. L’adoption de ces directives marque un grand pas pour faire de Meadowbrook une zone tampon entre les activités ferroviaires et l’habitation.

J’ai rédigé la résolution et je peux dire qu’il s’agit de l’une des réalisations les plus gratifiantes de ma carrière politique et d’un jalon important pour sauver Meadowbrook du développement et le transformer en parc.

Montréal est la première ville canadienne à appuyer ces directives et sera ainsi mieux positionnée pour demander aux compagnies ferroviaires d’améliorer la sécurité de leurs opérations dans nos collectivités.

Voyons maintenant comment nous pouvons utiliser cette résolution pour protéger ce précieux espace vert. Les Amis continuera de surveiller et de pousser l’adoption de ces directives et leur intégration au nouveau plan d’urbanisme de l’île de Montréal.

Meadowbrook friends promote their master plan

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From Les Amis de Meadowbrook:

As a result of the hard work of many organizations and individuals working in concert with Les Amis de Meadowbrook, the City of Montreal now has what it needs to protect this precious green space and create Meadowbrook Park.

Several recent initiatives by Les Amis de Meadowbrook helped move the process forward: a news conference to launch a Master Plan for a Meadowbrook Urban Nature Heritage Park, accessible to all; and a separate press conference to disclose the results of an investigation by the lobbying commissioner of Quebec that revealed illegal lobbying activities by the developer Groupe Pacific over a number of years.

With the iron now hot, we must continue to build public support for the park and ensure that our elected representatives continue to support the idea.

The first step will be to enforce the 300-meter safety setback for residences from the surrounding marshalling yards, as mandated by both the Railway Association of Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. In this regard, Montreal City Council has just adopted a resolution mandating the city’s Executive Committee, in collaboration with the Borough of Lachine, to undertake a study of all proposals for sustainable development of Meadowbrook, with particular reference to the safety setbacks and to the formal opposition to development expressed by both CP Rail and the AMT. We are in full support of this resolution, and would particularly like to thank Vision Montréal, Projet Montréal and the whole Municipal Council for taking this important step.

With Meadowbrook unable to be developed for safety reasons, the portion of Meadowbrook that is in the Borough of Lachine should be rezoned to recreational from residential. Côte Saint-Luc rezoned its portion to recreational in 2000.

The final step is the creation of Meadowbrook Park. The recently unveiled Master Plan was prepared for Les Amis de Meadowbrook by landscape architecture firm Catalyse Urbaine, in collaboration with the Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal (CRE-Montréal). The plan proposes converting the 57-hectare space into an Urban Nature Heritage Park, accessible to all Montrealers. New pedestrian and cycling paths would integrate Meadowbrook with existing recreational networks and make the park easily accessible to the densely populated areas of St. Pierre and Lachine.

In taking delivery of the Master Plan on behalf of the city, Josée Duplessis, the executive committee member in charge of sustainable development, undertook to have the city administration study the plan. She also applauded the initiative, saying, “We have a new generation of ecologists who, instead of just demanding projects from public officials, present real, concrete projects that can be worked on.”

The Master Plan was paid for by the fundraising efforts of Les Amis de Meadowbrook last year. It incorporates the views of a variety of community members who last fall attended a one-day design charette, or workshop, to discuss the potential uses for and design of Meadowbrook Park.

The issue of illegal lobbying follows a 2010 complaint to the Quebec lobbying commissioner, lodged by Les Amis member Campbell Stuart, acting as a private citizen. The commissioner’s three-year investigation found that Suzanne Deschamps, vice-president of development and legal affairs at Groupe Pacific, lobbied municipal and Hydro Quebec employees on at least 13 occasions between 2008 and 2010 without being registered as a lobbyist, as required by Quebec law. Stuart turned the commissioner’s findings over to Les Amis, which made them public.

Meadowbrook “Comedy for a Cause” Fundraiser July 23rd

Once again we’re packing the Comedy Nest to support Les Amis de Meadowbrook in our goal to create a park for southwest Montreal. Join us for an evening of fun and exercise for your stomach muscles at the Comedy Nest Just For Laughs: As Seen on TV! lineup on July 23rd. Approximately eight top comedians will be warming up at the downtown club before their gala sets. Be there to help them and help Meadowbrook! The money raised will help fund our current projects: a multi-platform map highlighting endangered green spaces across Montreal, and a showcase of the Université de Montréal landscape architecture students’ visions for Meadowbrook Park.

For tickets, contact Barbara Tekker at btekker@sympatico.ca. Tickets are $35.

The Comedy Nest is located on the third floor of the AMC/Pepsi Forum at 2313 Ste. Catherine at Atwater.

‘Beautiful future’ proposed for site of Meadowbrook golf course

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By Monique Beaudin, Gazette environment reporter April 23, 2013

MONTREAL — Bike paths, lookouts with views of Mount Royal and Lac Saint-Louis, silver maple forests, community gardens, cross-country ski and snowshoe trails.

That is how two Montreal environmental groups envision a new nature park they say could be built on the west-end Meadowbrook golf course.

“We think Meadowbrook has a beautiful future as a park for all Montrealers,” said Coralie Deny of the Conseil regional de l’environnement. “We want to make people dream. But we are convinced that this is a dream that can become reality in a few years.”

The 57-hectare golf course is privately owned by Groupe Pacific Inc., which in November filed a request to the city for a residential project on the property. Montreal had previously rejected its plan for a 1,500-unit housing project on part of the site because the infrastructure costs were too high.

The golf course straddles the city of Côte St. Luc and the Montreal borough of Lachine.

The area around the golf course has a dearth of green spaces, which is why the golf course should be converted to a park, Deny said.

Although the land has been used a golf course, with strategic planting it could become a preserve of biodiversity for the island of Montreal, said Patrick Asch of Les Amis de Meadowbrook. The site has different habitats — meadows, forests, wetlands and the Little St. Pierre River and is located on a bird migration route.

The city of Montreal will study the proposed park project, said Josée Duplessis, the executive-committee member in charge of sustainable development. Duplessis applauded the two groups for coming up with the plan, which was the result of a workshop held in December with urban planners, environmentalists, municipal officials and citizens.

“We have a new generation of ecologists who, instead of just demanding projects from public officials, present real, concrete projects that can be worked on,” Duplessis said.

The opposition Vision Montreal party called on the city to prioritize the project, and require all city departments to study it, party spokesperson Olivier Lapierre said.

“For years now this dossier has been stagnating,” he said. “We want all those city civil servants to have a copy of this document in order to find solutions … that can benefit Montreal taxpayers, but also benefit Montrealers who need access to quality green spaces.”

He pointed to the fact that other parks — such as Maisonneuve and Lafontaine — were once golf courses, so his party believes that Meadowbrook has a good chance of becoming a new park.

For nearly 25 years, debate has swirled over a series of plans to build houses on the golf course.

In 2009, a committee of Montreal’s agglomeration council recommended that Meadowbrook be turned into a nature park as part of a greenbelt that would include the Falaise St. Jacques in southern Notre Dame de Grâce.

In November, Groupe Pacific filed a building-permit request with the Lachine borough for a residential development, Duplessis said. But Montreal maintains the infrastructure costs are too high for that project.

Turning the golf course into a park does not necessarily require the city to buy the property, Duplessis said. There are issues about whether it could actually be built on, she said, pointing to the fact that it is in a flood zone and located next to the largest train yards on the island, Duplessis said.

“There are many things to look at,” she said.

mbeaudin@montrealgazette.com

Twitter: @moniquebeaudin

See the comparative map and drawings:  Two visions for Meadowbrook Golf Course

A vision for Meadowbrook: An urban nature heritage park, accessible to all

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Photo credit: Nigel Dove, Les Amis de Meadowbrook

Photo credit: Nigel Dove, Les Amis de Meadowbrook

This afternoon I attended a press conference outlining a vision for Meadowbrook along with Councillor Dida Berku. Les Amis de Meadowbrook, along with the Conseil regional de l’environnement de Montréal (CRE-Montréal) and landscape architecture firm Catalyse Urbaine, shared their vision of an urban nature heritage park, accessible to all.

These three organizations believe this vision will provide a solid basis for transforming this green space into a public park, and hope that city officials will study the report in this light.

“Meadowbrook is the last intact large green space in the heart of the island of Montreal that could be developed into a park for all Montrealers,” says Les Amis de Meadowbrook spokesman Patrick Asch. “It is now time for the City of Montreal to follow up on the recommendations of the 2009 Montreal Agglomeration Council commission on large installations and agglomeration activities and add Meadowbrook to the city’s network of parks.”

Currently a public golf course, Meadowbrook is a 57-hectare green space bordered by railway tracks and rail yards on the south and west, and has only one entrance, located on the north side. It is, however, close to existing bicycle paths, the Lachine Canal and the AMT commuter line. New pedestrian entrances and cycle paths could easily open up access to Meadowbrook and integrate it with existing green corridors.

The new park could be connected through a greenway to a network of parks, including the Falaise Saint-Jacques, and a pedestrian infrastructure could make it accessible to all Montrealers, including the densely populated areas of Lachine and Saint-Pierre.

During a day-long workshop in early December 2012, residents, social services and health experts, biologists, students and elected officials visited the site and brainstormed. “We didn’t worry about implementation,” says Juliette Patterson, a landscape architect with Catalyse Urbaine. “We just imagined what we would like to see, and the results were unanimous: a park where people can go to observe nature and to learn about the historical and cultural aspects of the site.”

Coralie Deny, executive-director of CRE-Montreal, says, “We are convinced that, with a document like this in hand, the elected officials of the Montreal Agglomeration will agree with the importance of carrying out this public project. It fits perfectly with the spirit of the Montreal Development Plan currently being discussed.”

A new Meadowbrook Urban Nature Heritage Park Accessible to All, would offer Montrealers:

• A 57-hectare park in the heart of the island, where over 500,000 residents of the southwest region currently lack access to nature.

• A precious preserve of biodiversity located on a major spring migration flyway. Meadowbrook’s trees and streams also provide a rich resource for ducks, geese and songbirds.

• Heritage aspects of the area include First Nations archaeological sites, a history of agricultural use and a role in Canada’s railway history.

• A 1.4-km multi-use trail for pedestrians, cyclists and cross-country skiers, a 2.8- km year-round path for pedestrians and skiers, an additional 2 km of paths, as well as gardens and an outdoor theatre.

The full report can be downloaded from Les Amis de Meadowbrook website at lesamisdemeadowbrook.org.

Photo credit: Nigel Dove, Les Amis de Meadowbrook

Photo credit: Nigel Dove, Les Amis de Meadowbrook

Les Amis de Meadowbrook is a citizen’s movement dedicated to protecting Meadowbrook from development and transforming it into an Urban Nature Heritage Park Accessible to All.

CRE-Montreal is an independent non-profit organization committed to environmental protection and the promotion of sustainable development on the island of Montreal. http://www.cremtl.qc.ca

Catalyse Urbaine is a landscape and architecture design firm that exists to fulfill the seamless integration of nature into urban design – an endeavour that combines environmental sensitivity with public well-being.

Nicole and Nathalie hold up maps showing heat concentration on Island of Montreal.  Cote Saint-Luc is a hot spot making preservation of Meadowbrook even more important.

Nicole and Nathalie hold up maps showing heat concentration on Island of Montreal. Cote Saint-Luc is a hot spot making preservation of Meadowbrook even more important.

In my opinion: 

Meadowbrook presents a significant attraction to thousands of young families for recreation and leisure and living in a city that promotes an active, healthy environment and lifestyle. It opens up a safe and secure corridor for thousands of cyclists and pedestrians to connect the west end with the Lachine Canal.  
 
Cote Saint-Luc is investing heavily and continuing its plans to attract young families.  The Meadowbrook connection is a major piece in the puzzle for young families.
For more info type “Meadowbrook” in the search field at the top of this page.

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