Meadowbrook developer loses appeal of lawsuit against Montreal | Montreal Gazette

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via Meadowbrook developer loses appeal of lawsuit against Montreal | Montreal Gazette

This is indeed good news in this decades long matter. The courts have recognized the actions of the City of Montreal in not allowing construction on the Lachine side to be reasonable and justifiable.

How much longer until we see Meadowbrook as a regional public park for all to enjoy?

Meadowbrook developer suing city for $46 million

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Montreal Gazette, Mar. 24, 2017

In its $46-million lawsuit against the city of Montreal, real-estate developer Groupe Pacific charged Thursday that the city used high infrastructure costs as an excuse to block construction of its 1,600-unit project and save the Meadowbrook golf course as green space.The city engaged in “disguised expropriation” to preserve the Lachine portion of the golf course, lawyer Martin Bernard said. Groupe Pacific is requesting damages to cover the profits it would have earned had the project been approved.

Taking the stand in Quebec Superior Court near the end of the two-week trial, Bernard began his closing arguments in the two-week trial in Quebec Superior Court by outlining his client’s interactions with city and Lachine borough officials in 2007-2010.

Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific, a subsidiary of Groupe Pacific, purchased the land in 2006 for $3 million.

In 2010, as protests by concerned citizens and environmental group Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook escalated, executive committee member Alan DeSousa announced the city would not support the project because the cost of installing infrastructure, like additional access roads, sewage and water systems, were excessive.

In 2013, the company discovered that the city’s estimates for putting in services like water, sewage pipes and a railway overpass to ensure access for emergency services ranged from $60 million to $150 million.

“The city of Montreal behaved in a manner that exhibited bad faith and acted contrary to the principles of balanced procedures,” Bernard argued. “It failed to work with care and diligence, to follow its own regulations, or to work transparently.”

The city’s demand that access lanes be created to the south of the project, necessitating an overpass over train lines costing as much as $125 million, were exorbitant, Groupe Pacific argued. As well, the city has since indicated its support for converting the space into a public green space, Bernard said.

In its defence, the city’s lawyers argued that Groupe Pacific purchased a piece of land bordered on three sides by train lines, with only one narrow access route cutting through the de-merged municipality of Côte-St-Luc. Installing 1,600 residences would involve extensive sewage and water-main installations, and because the city cannot force a neighbouring municipality to install additional roads, the only option was to install a costly overpass on land to the south belonging to the city. Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook has argued that all residences within the development would be within 300 metres of the Canadian Pacific switching station located alongside, in contravention of federal guidelines.

It would take the city 50 years to recoup its infrastructure investments, far longer than the maximum 10 years its financial services department considers acceptable, city lawyer Eric Couture said.

“The city of Montreal refuses for now to invest the necessary sums in this project that is not profitable for public finances,” the city wrote in its defence statement. “Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific can continue to manage the golf course which is permitted under the current zoning. … Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific is thus not the victim of a disguised expropriation.”

It added that if Groupe Pacific deemed the city was negotiating in bad faith, it could have contested that point in Superior Court, as opposed to requesting damages.

Groupe Pacific’s demand of $46 million is “clearly exaggerated,” the city said in its defence statement. City lawyers will conclude their closing arguments Friday.

rbruemmer@postmedia.com

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Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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.

City council: New rules would prevent construction near tracks, railway yards

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City council: New rules would prevent construction near tracks, railway yards. (Montreal Gazette) Link removed.

In brief:

  • Montreal has adopted new rules that would forbid the construction of new buildings within 30 metres of busy train tracks and 300 metres of a railway yard.
  • The new rules would also outline steps that could be taken to improve safety and reduce nuisances like noise and vibrations from rail operations, such as installing safety fences, berms and noise barriers.
  • Montreal city council voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt the new guidelines, drawn up by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Railway Association of Canada. They would be included in Montreal’s new urban plan, which must be adopted by the end of 2014.
  • Montreal’s agglomeration council is also expected to approve them Thursday, extending them across the island of Montreal.
  • Côte-St-Luc city councillor Dida Berku has been calling for more than 20 years for municipalities to adopt railway setback guidelines for development and said she was “elated” when Montreal city council adopted them.
  • The new guidelines could mean the controversial development of the west-end Meadowbrook golf course would not be allowed to proceed. The golf course, which is in Lachine and Côte-St-Luc, has a train yard on its north and west side, with train tracks running east-west through the golf course itself. Several housing developments have been proposed for the site over the past 25 years. Montreal has said building municipal infrastructure for the site is too costly.

This is excellent news.  I have supported this theory in order to safeguard residents living near rail lines and yards for 20 years and I’ve echoed Dida Berku’s call to protect Meadowbrook, in large part, because of this potential danger.

It is sad that this position by the City of Montreal had to follow such a horrible tragedy but Lac Megantic has served as a wake up call for municipalities across Canada.

Cote Saint-Luc has been very progressive in assuring Meadowbrook’s future as a green space. This resolution, soon to be presented to the Montreal Agglomeration Council will give greater assurance on its ultimate preservation.

 

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.

Reflecting on Earth Hour

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Rivière Saint-Pierre

Rivière Saint-Pierre at Meadowbrook (Photo credit: douaireg)

There are many moments throughout the year where we are reminded to stop and reflect a moment on the significance of one of many causes, holidays and life cycle events.  I salute Councillor Dida Berku for constantly reminding us of the importance to reflect upon, and to protect, the environment.

Here’s a message I received from her last night as I was dutifully dimming the lights in my home in observance of world earth Hour:

 

For the next hour think of the earth and how we can help heal it.

Think of the thousands of sick sea lions who are washing up on the California shore from a sick Pacific.

And think of the polar bears who are losing their natural habitat and our own birds and trees that need our attention.

Think of reducing our carbon footprint next year and think of ways we as politicians can make a difference.

 

Now I may be indifferent to sea horses and polar bears but I can indeed see the forests and the birds, I observe the Urban Heat Islands here in Cote Saint-Luc and I appreciate the wealth of trees along our residential streets to help reduce those hot spots.  I enjoy the beauty of our parks and I am excited by the potential of Meadowbrook to remain green and unspoiled for generations to come.

Thank you Dida for helping me to remind all Cote Saint-Lucers and neighbours of the importance to reflect upon this moment in time, in addition to all of the other important moments throughout our year.

Dawson students petition to save Meadowbrook

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Dawson students have created an online petition to support the preservation of Meadowbrook as a green space.
 
They intend to send the petition to Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay, “who has the power to at least save the area from development by changing the zoning on the Lachine side of the present golf course to ‘recreational,'” according to the petitioners.

The goal was to garner 500 signatures in the hopes of tripling this number.  At this writing I was the 811th signature.

I encourage you to sign the petition as every initiative in this decades-long battle is helpful and supportive.

Click here to sign the petition:
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/dawson-college-supports-nature-not-condos/

For more information on saving the Meadowbrook green space click here:                                                                          http://lesamisdemeadowbrook.org/

Anywhere but Meadowbrook?

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Spacing Montréal contributors examine neighbourhoods, architecture, urban planning, transit, cycling and just about anything that involves the public realm of our cities. In this dispatch, Anywhere but Meadowbrook, blogger Alanah Heffez raises an interesting viewpoint on the recently reopened debate about Meadwbrook.

You can also read about Cote Saint-Luc’s efforts to preserve this incredible green space by searching “Meadowbrook” on this blog.

Meadowbrook could be ‘exceptional park’: mayors

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Meadowbrook could be ‘exceptional park’: mayors

By MONIQUE BEAUDIN, The Gazette,  June 9, 2010

MONTREAL – Standing in Maisonneuve Park, which used to be a golf course, two Montreal borough mayors yesterday called on the city to protect the site of the west-end Meadowbrook golf course.

Gesturing to the park behind him, Rosemont-La Petite Patrie borough mayor Francois Croteau said Meadowbrook could be turned into a similar public park.

“There were plans to build the Olympic towers here, but citizens mobilized to protect this beautiful, marvellous site,” he said. “This is what can be done with very little intervention – an exceptional park that very few people know used to be a golf course.”

The 57-hectare Meadowbrook course straddles Cote St. Luc and Lachine. It is privately owned by Groupe Pacific, which plans to build 1,500 housing units there in an environmentally friendly development.

It doesn’t make sense, Croteau said, to do a “green” development on a green space, when renaturalizing Meadowbrook would protect biodiversity on the island.

Croteau and Plateau-Mont Royal mayor Luc Ferrandez called on Lachine to change the zoning on its part of the golf course. Doing so before Groupe Pacific requests a building permit would protect the borough from being sued by the developer, they said.

Neither Lachine mayor Claude Dauphin nor a spokesperson for Groupe Pacific could be reached for comment yesterday.

The mayors say there are many other sites on the island for a development like the one Groupe Pacific is proposing.

Ferrandez said this is not a fight between environmentalists and developers. Groupe Pacific’s project is “exceptional,” Croteau added.

“We are all for having families in the city, and we are all for development, but in the right place, not on land that is valuable for all Montrealers and for the future of nature,” Ferrandez said.

Montreal’s public-consultation office and an agglomeration council committee have recommended the city protect the golf course as a green space, a move supported by the Green Coalition, David Suzuki Foundation and Sierra Club.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Meadowbrook+could+exceptional+park+mayors/3129220/story.html#ixzz0qN5eF241

Meadowbrook green space gains allies

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Meadowbrook green space gains allies

By Monique Beaudin, Montreal Gazette, June 8, 2010 

MONTREAL- Two Montreal borough mayors have joined the campaign to protect the west-end Meadowbrook golf course.

François Croteau, the Vision Montréal mayor of Rosemont-La Petite Patrie, and Luc Ferrandez, the Projet Montréal mayor of Plateau-Mont Royal, are also calling on the city of Montreal to respect its promises to protect biodiversity.

The Meadowbrook golf course is a 57-hectare green space straddling Côte St. Luc and Lachine. It is privately owned by a company that has said it plans to build 1,500 housing units there in an environmentally-friendly way.

Environmental groups including the Green Coalition, the David Suzuki Foundation and Sierra Club have also called for its preservation.

mbeaudin@thegazette.canwest.com

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Meadowbrook+green+space+gains+allies/3126842/story.html#ixzz0qMzA8nJ2

Red fox sighting at Meadowbrook

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Meadowbrook is a precious greenspace of enormous benefit to the tens of thousands of residents in communities all around.  In the photos below, taken today by David M. Robertson, you will see that it is home to some lucky four legged residents as well.

Call Mayor Gerald Tremblay and urge him to SAVE MEADOWBROOK!

Fox's den at Meadowbrook

 

Fox visible with slight amplification

 

Even greater magnification

 

For more information type “Meadowbrook” in the search window of this blog.

Meadowbrook debate goes to Montreal

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I received the following appeal from former Montreal-West Mayor, Campbell Stuart.  I completely endorse the preservation of Meadowbrook and urge you to attend Monday night’s council meeting.

Dear Glenn,

I am writing to ask for your help. We need to act now to prevent the destruction of Meadowbrook. Please come with your friends at 6:30 pm this Monday, April 19th, to the Montreal Municipal Council meeting at City Hall (275 Notre-Dame East) to convince Mayor Tremblay that Meadowbrook must be saved. Please forward this message to your friends and acquaintances who care about the environment. Numbers count!

The David Suzuki Foundation supports this cause, and has written the open letter to Mayor Tremblay that you see attached (below).

For over 20 years Les Amis de Meadowbrook, in coalition with other environmental groups and dedicated citizens from across the Island, has managed to prevent development on this beautiful 57-hectare green space straddling Lachine and Côte Saint-Luc. Meadowbrook is the only viable green space left in the greater south-western region of Montreal, and it is the only one between Angell Woods and Mount Royal (as migratory birds know so well). To learn more about this green jewel and the threat it faces, please visit our blog at sosmeadowbrook.org , where you will also find Flickr, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter resources. Please also see the attached flier.

Two Municipal Commissions have recommended that Meadowbrook be preserved – most recently the Labrecque Commission in 2009 – and Mayor Gérald Tremblay promised to do so in 2003. Now a developer, Groupe Pacific, has announced that it plans to build 1500 condos on the southern half alone ( http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/battle+Meadowbrook/2770869/story.html ), and says that the City of Montreal has agreed to let them start this year.

Les Amis de Meadowbrook, in coalition with many other environmental groups and residents from across the island, is determined to stop the destruction of Meadowbrook and to preserve it once and for all as a nature park open and accessible to everyone. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity and Mayor Tremblay has undertaken a very public role championing biodiversity on the work stage. We thank him for thinking globally. Now he has to act locally.

On Monday we will tell Mayor Tremblay that the public disagrees with development. Please join us! Please bring your friends!

Thanks!

Campbell Stuart

Les Amis de Meadowbrook

sosmeadowbrook.org

SOS Meadowbrook flyer for 19avr2010 (Francais/English)

David Suzuki Fdn – Meadowbrook (English)

David Suzuki Fdn – Lettre Meadowbrook (francais)

Save Meadowbrook

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Save Meadowbrook

The Gazette, April 11, 2010

Re: “Tee-off in battle for Meadowbrook” (Gazette, April 7).

Our communities have spoken out in favour of preserving this magnificent green space for more than 20 years. Look at the vast parks that stretch across Toronto, Boston, and many other major North American cities enriching the lives of local residents.

The thousands of people who live all around Meadowbrook would benefit tremendously by having a recreational area within walking or cycling distance.

Montreal should take immediate steps to stop any planned development. Future generations of Montrealers are depending on it.

Glenn J. Nashen
City councillor
Côte St. Luc

Please click here (SOSMeadowbrook19avr2010) regarding a very important meeting you are urged to attend at Montreal City Hall to show wide support to SAVE MEADOWBROOK.

Green is good for you

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Green is good for you

Living close to natural areas can improve health, many studies show

By STEPHEN VIDA, Freelance, The Gazette, April 14, 2010

Many Montrealers want to save Meadowbrook from the construction of a 1,500-unit housing project. It is easy to see why. Located in Côte St. Luc and Lachine, Meadowbrook is a 57-hectare area, now a golf course, with ancient trees and wildlife such as foxes, rabbits, and a variety of birds. It is beautiful, irreplaceable, and one of the few natural green spaces Montreal has left. Knowing that destruction is forever, citizens understandably ask why build on a natural area when there is so much other land that can be used for housing. Why not turn Meadowbrook into a nature park open to all?

While green spaces have intrinsic natural value, they are also important for health. They reduce air pollution and absorb carbon dioxide and noise. They encourage healthy recreational activities such as walking, running and cycling. They absorb less solar heat and can be as much as eight degrees cooler than surrounding built-up areas, decreasing the urban heat-island effect. In the Montreal heat wave of 1994, non-traumatic deaths rose from an average of 45 per day to 100, spiking upward right along with the temperature. Important points all, but is there any research evidence linking urban green space and health?

Several studies suggest that urban green space is good for our health, especially for disadvantaged citizens. Because socio-economic factors are linked with health outcomes and with where people live, they are usually considered in studies of green space.

An early study compared patients assigned to rooms with views of a natural setting with matched patients in similar rooms facing a brick wall. The former had shorter and more favourable post-operative hospital stays and required fewer painkillers. In Japan, the practice of staying or walking in forests, known as shinrin-yoku, is a popular relaxation practice. One study comparing subjects on forest visit days and control days found their emotional state significantly better on forest days, especially among highly stressed people.

At least three important studies come from Holland. One found that the more green space available within a three-kilometre radius of home, the better were several measures of mental and physical health. People felt less well in urban environments, but the positive effect of green space was stronger than the negative effect of the urban environment. Effects were stronger among housewives, the elderly, and the uneducated. The authors concluded that “assuming a causal relation between green space and health, 10 per cent more green space in the living environment leads to a decrease in the number of symptoms that is comparable with a decrease in age by five years.”

The second study reported similar findings, again stronger for poor, uneducated, the elderly and the young. The authors concluded that “Green space seems to be more than just a luxury and consequently the development of green space should be allocated a more central position in spatial planning policy. Healthy planning should include a place for green space and policy-makers should take the amount of green space in the living environment into account when endeavouring to improve the health situation of the elderly, the youth, and lower socio-economic status groups, especially in urban environments.”

The third study found that the rates of several physical and psychological ailments were lower in areas with more green space within a one-km radius. These effects were strongest for anxiety disorders and depression and strongest in children and the poor.

In Britain, researchers found that better health was generally associated with increased green space, particularly in urban areas, but cautioned that the type of green space might be important. Meanwhile, a Danish study reported less stress and obesity near green spaces, perhaps related to outdoor activities and healthful modes of travel.

Evidence on mortality rates is also emerging. A Japanese study of urban senior citizens showed significantly greater lifespans if they lived near walkable green space. The authors suggested that accessible and walkable greenery-filled public areas should be encouraged in cities.

All these studies suggest links between urban green space with better health. Moreover, researchers convincingly argue that green space actually improves health.

Finally, this effect might be stronger among disadvantaged populations and may help reduce socio-economic inequalities in health.

On this basis, surely Meadowbrook should be preserved.

Stephen Vida is a Montreal doctor.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/Green+good/2903236/story.html#ixzz0l4xkKcP6

Meadowbrook activists target Montreal in new campaign

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Meadowbrook activists target Montreal in new campaign

The Suburban

By Joel Goldenberg

March 17, 2010

Activists seeking to prevent the Meadowbrook golf course from being developed for housing told a meeting last week they will target the Montreal city administration with a gradually growing campaign and a rally in the near future outside Montreal city hall.

“This is the beginning of our attempt to make Montreal’s administration understand that developing Meadowbrook would be a very unpopular thing,” said meeting chairman and former Montreal West mayor Campbell Stuart. “We want to find ways where you can help and we can all work together…. We know that unless we can convince Montreal, rather than the developer, to put a stop to this, we have some real problems.”

Stuart said such a campaign would be similar to that which prevented Park Avenue from being changed to Robert Bourassa.

“We need to demonstrate to Montreal that there is a great deal of public support for preservation and there will be a political price to pay if it is not preserved.”

What amounted to a first strategy meeting was held last week by the group Les Amis de Meadowbrook at Edinburgh School gymnasium in Montreal West, which attracted about 200 people. The meeting was held because, according to an invitation, “the current owner of Meadowbrook, Groupe Pacific Canada, has informed the government of Quebec that Montreal has agreed to allow construction on the Lachine portion of Meadowbrook this year.

“When asked directly whether this is true, the City of Montreal has been evasive,” the invitation also said. “The City of Montreal has also been evasive when asked when — or even if — it will consider the formal recommendation of its own agglomeration commission that Meadowbrook be preserved.”

Côte St. Luc’s portion has been rezoned from residential to golf course.

As reported in The Suburban last week, Group Pacific’s Suzanne Deschamps denied that her company had informed Quebec of anything specific yet, and that the firm is still working on how to conceive an environmentally-friendly development. Stuart stuck to his guns, saying Quebec has been told that Montreal has given permission to develop this year. “I’ve heard it from a number of different sources,” he explained. “They are negotiators — they’re trying to convince everybody that everybody else is for it.”

Stuart also said that contrary to Deschamps’ invitation last week to activists to speak to her, he tried to meet with the company while mayor and that he was refused.

“But the problem is not really Group Pacific — they’ll do what they want to do — it’s Montreal.”

Also during the meeting, former journalist Patrick Barnard presented a video in which activists made the case for Meadowbrook, and Patrick Asch of Heritage Laurentien spoke about what he said was the environmental and even possibly archeological importance of the site. There were also discussions of how to make the case for preservation, whether through events, letters to newspapers and social media like Facebook.

In past interviews, Deschamps, vice-president of development and legal affairs for Group Pacific, has insisted that a development her company is planning would be environmentally friendly.

“In some ways, I can’t disagree with the objective of keeping and preserving greenspace, that is the right thing to do,” she said recently. “But I believe one can do that, all while developing it. That might sound strange or like an oxymoron, but I actually think it is possible, and my team and the professionals I’ve been working with for the last while, are working very hard to make that case. At some point, we will have to make that case. We absolutely are in favour of linking Meadowbrook to existing and even non-existent but possible future links to bicycle paths and other pathways that would be possible to make Meadowbrook not the end of something, but a connection to other green areas.

“In that sense, I know in our thoughts and with our professionals, we’ve examined and tried to work on how we could connect communities that surround us in different ways, not through cars but through bicycle paths and footpaths and other means, up to cross-country skiing, which are possible.

“I guess in some ways we might agree with the objectives of [activists], but we might not necessarily agree on how to get there.”

The response to this point of view was typified during last week’s meeting when a McGill student asked about the possibility of developing “a little bit,” 10 or 20 percent, while preserving most of the greenspace.

“Why is that off the table?” she asked.

“We have 57 hectares and that’s all there is,” Stuart replied. “That’s it. So allowing people to build on — oh, half of it — sorry, that’s not good enough.”

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