Environmentalists applaud plans for urban park in West Island

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The Great Park of the West will be eight times the size of Central Park in New York

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Montreal environmentalists on Thursday welcomed the news that plans to build Canada’s largest urban park in the West Island are moving forward.

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“This is the most positive measure to preserve Montreal’s natural environment that has been taken in 30 years,” said environmentalist Patrick Barnard. “No one has done anything of this magnitude and importance.”

“Today is a big day for us. It feels like Christmas in the summer, ”exclaimed David Fletcher, vice-president of the Green Coalition. “The mayor is launching a visionary initiative that will put Montreal on the map.

On Wednesday evening, the city’s executive council passed a resolution to demarcate the park area. Called Grand Parc de l’Ouest, the project will cover 3,000 hectares, including 1,600 hectares of newly protected area. It will link the ÃŽle-Bizard park to Cap St-Jacques, passing through the Morgan arboretum, the Bois-de-la-Roche agricultural park and the Anse-à-l’Orme park. Organic vegetable farms, cycle paths and a river shuttle connecting ÃŽle-Bizard to Pierrefonds are also part of Plante’s vision for a delimited green space that would be eight times the size of Central Park in New York.

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“If you look at all of these green spaces together, they make an amazing ecosystem,” Barnard said. “There won’t be another park like this.”

“The creation of this park is a historic moment in the struggle to protect the island’s green spaces,” Plante said in a statement.

Sue Stacho, an activist who has fought for years for the preservation and conservation of green spaces with her group Sauvons Anse-à-l’Orme, said Thursday’s announcement was “everything we’ve ever wanted” .

“It’s almost too good to be true,” she said. “Most importantly, it sets a precedent for the protection of urban natural spaces for the rest of Canada.

But the urban park of Plante has an obstacle to face: a development project of the Immeubles l’Équerre. Called Cap Nature Pierrefonds Ouest, it is said to have 5,500 to 6,000 residences on 185 hectares in the Anse-à-l’Orme sector. Other elements mentioned by the promoters include the construction of a boulevard, shops and schools. Since it was first proposed in 2015, Cap Nature Pierrefonds Ouest has sparked controversy and public reaction from environmentalists and community members in the West Island. .

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“Technically, the developers still own the land and still intend to develop it,” Stacho said. “I would be very surprised if they left without a fight.”

Youssef Amane, spokesperson for the town hall and the executive committee, confirmed that part of the proposed park still belongs to the developers, but said that Plante intends to buy back the land.

  1. The Équerre Buildings development project called Cap Nature Pierrefonds Ouest, it would include 5,500 to 6,000 residences on 185 hectares in the Anse-à-l'Orme sector, which would encroach on an urban park proposed by the mayoress of Montreal Valérie Plante.

    Plante announces plan to build Montreal’s largest urban park

  2. On Friday, the group Sauvons l'Anse-à-l'Orme published a press release asking Mayor Valérie Plante to protect the 185 hectares of wet meadows of Anse à l'Orme.

    Floods demonstrate need to protect wetlands: environmentalists

  3. Protesters seeking to save Anse-à-l'Orme are seen in front of Montreal City Hall on May 16, 2016.

    The Plante administration says “no question” of developing the west of Pierrefonds despite the road project

  4. More than half of the housing offered in the Cap Nature project could be built on other sites in Pierrefonds-Roxboro, argues Irwin Rapoport.

    Opinion: This may be the last chance to save L’Anse-à-l’Orme

“The mayor made it clear that she did not want the land to be developed with housing,” Amane said. “The development project will not see the light of day.

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For his part, the mayor of Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Jim Beis, wonders why the mayor would have made the announcement without first dealing with the promoters.

“There is no deal with any promoter, no purchase is made and no confirmed lot will be protected,” Beis said. “If none of the developers have agreed to settle in, why are we making an announcement?”

While Beis says he’s happy the green spaces are being preserved, he says key details about the project are still missing, including its cost and implications for his borough.

“With an announcement of this magnitude, I would have liked to know a little more about the project itself,” he said. “Right now it looks like a vision, and not much else.”

Public consultations for the Grand Parc de l’Ouest de Plante project will begin in the fall.

dsucar@postmedia.com

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