All Stakeholders Must Participate in Decision about l’Anse-à-l’Orme

    The report of the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM) regarding hearings on the future of l’Anse-à-l’Orme in western Pierrefonds “is a clear rebuke to the City of Montreal and the Borough of Pierrefond-Roxboro for their 10 years of cosy back-room dealings with land developers,” says Les Amis du parc Meadowbrook spokesman Campbell Stuart.

    The OCPM hearings, which took place in the spring, received 272 written briefs and heard from 73 individuals and organizations. Some 87 percent were opposed to allowing housing construction at l’Anse-à-l’Orme.

    Developers want to build 5,000 houses on 185 hectares of wetlands, woods, fields and former farmland on the shore of Lac des Deux Montagnes. Sauvons l’Anse-à-l’Orme and other environmental groups have spearheaded opposition to development.

    The OCPM report, made public on Sept. 29, pointed to a lack of consensus on the area’s future. The commission recommended that studies be completed on biodiversity protection, community benefits, economic viability of a new development, urban sprawl, transportation, and respect of international commitments pertaining to the environment.

    It also recommended that the urban planning exercise that is already underway for the area continue, but “this time, the exercise should involve all stakeholders, including citizens and environmental organizations, and set forth different scenarios ranging from protecting the territory as a whole to various ratios of protection and real estate development.”

    Stuart presented a brief on behalf of Les Amis du parc Meadowbrook during the hearings, and several members of Les Amis made individual presentations. The brief from Les Amis stated that l’Anse-à-l’Orme must be preserved and turned into a nature park, open and accessible to everyone.

    Les Amis suggested the area be preserved for its intrinsic environmental value to future generations. The brief argued the proposed development fails to meet Montreal’s own criteria for sustainable development since it does not protect natural areas, it promotes the use of automobiles and it does not revitalize existing neighbourhoods. Furthermore, it suggested the proposal should also be rejected for fiscal reasons, since taxpayers are being asked to subsidize speculative ventures for private profit.

    The OCPM’s recommendation is non-binding, however, Stuart noted that the report is an important milestone in the fight to save the the l’Anse-à-l’Orme corridor from destruction.

    A public rally will be held on Monday, October 2nd at 6:00 p.m. in front of the Pierrefonds City Hall (13665 Pierrefonds Boulevard) to discuss the report and its implications.

    The City of Montreal has won

    Superior Court Judge Pepita G. Capriolo has handed down her decision in the $44 million case opposing Groupe Pacific, the owners of Meadowbrook, and the City of Montreal.

    The City of Montreal has won on all counts.

    Groupe Pacific alleged that the City had to all intents and purposes expropriated the land and had acted in bad faith in dealing with them. The promoter was asking $28.5 million for the disguised expropriation and further added $10.4 million for the loss of housing unit sales and a further $5.045 million for the loss of lot sales. Groupe Pacific had originally purchased the land for $3 million in 2006.

    In her decision, the judge said the promoter did not manage to prove bad faith in the case of the City.  She also dismissed any damages: the promoter was requesting damages for both the loss of housing unit and lot sales.

    Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook is very pleased with the outcome of this case and will continue its campaign to make Meadowbrook an urban nature park accessible to all.

    See https://youtu.be/oalZdXOHwxc, Pimento Report #124, “Meadowbrook — A Park for All”. Go to 7 minutes, 40 seconds in the timeline to view Campbell Stuart’s presentation on the history of the struggle to preserve Meadowbrook and an interview with Campbell about the significance of this lawsuit. (In English only.)

    See also:  http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/judge-rejects-developers-lawsuit-against-montreal-over-meadowbrook

    Meadowbrook Brief Says l’Anse-à-l’Orme Must Be Preserved

    Les Amis du parc Meadowbrook told a recent hearing that the l’Anse-à-l’Orme green space in western Pierrefonds must be protected from development. The brief, presented by Campbell Stuart on behalf of Les Amis, told the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM) hearing that l’Anse-à-l’Orme must be preserved and turned into a nature park, open and accessible to everyone.

    The OCPM hearings were considering a proposal to allow developers to build 5,500 houses on 185 hectares of wetlands, woods, fields and former farmland. The l’Anse-à-l’Orme area consists primarily of wet meadows, located on a floodplain, which are unsuitable for construction.

    The brief outlined three main reasons to reject the proposed development. First, the area should be preserved for its intrinsic environmental value to future generations. It is home to several threatened and endangered species, including the Least Bittern, Northern Map Turtle and Brown Snake, as well as other birds, reptiles, and mammals.

    The wetlands and small rivers of the area form a thriving and self-sustaining wilderness ecosystem in the heart of the West Island. Researchers at l’Université du Québec en Outaouais conducted an exhaustive study of the rich biodiversity of this area (“Évaluation écologique de l’Ouest du territoire de Pierrefonds-Roxboro”,  http://bit.ly/RapportPierrefonds).

    Les Amis argued the proposed development should not go ahead for urban planning reasons. The project fails to meet Montreal’s own criteria for sustainable development since it does not protect natural areas, it promotes the use of automobiles and it does not revitalize existing neighbourhoods.

    The proposal should also be rejected for fiscal reasons, since taxpayers are being asked to subsidize speculative ventures for private profit. A study on the issue of taxpayer costs done by a researcher at l’Université du Québec à Montréal, (“Analyse des contraintes, coûts et impacts d’un éventuel projet immobilier dans le secteur Pierrefonds-Ouest / L’Anse à l’Orme“, http://www.greencoalitionverte.ca/documents/Rapport%20Rajaonson.pdf) demonstrated that building a new housing development in this area would require massive new infrastructure funded by taxpayers, with little chance of recouping those costs.

    The brief suggested that the mandate given to the OCPM threatens the consultative body’s independence and neutrality. The brochure for the hearings invites the public “to come validate and improve the vision” of the proposed development, while stating that the “OCPM was created specifically to ensure that certain public consultations in Montreal are led by a neutral and independent organization.”

    Saying that other areas of the city are more suitable for sustainable development, Les Amis’ brief recommended the City of Montreal and the Borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro change the zoning of the area to recreational.

    “We also call on them to work with other levels of government to create a nature park, open and accessible to all and encompassing on the whole territory of the L’Anse-à-l’Orme Corridor. This natural space is just too precious to us and our descendants to allow it to be destroyed for private gain.”

    Several members of Les Amis de Meadowbrook also presented briefs as private citizens.

    Supplemental Brief on Rouge National Urban Park, Toronto

    Download (PDF, 252KB)