The Fight for Meadowbrook Park: Thirty Years and Counting

Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook is celebrating its 30th year of advocating for a park at Meadowbrook Golf Course in Lachine/Côte Saint-Luc. To commemorate the event, the group created a timeline of events over those years and posted it on its website.

And what a thirty years it was! It involved at least half a dozen housing proposals for the site, three lawsuits and an equal number of appeals. Three commissions recommended that the green space be preserved. The cast of characters ranged from Phyllis Lambert, founder of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, to Charles Bedzow, Second World War freedom fighter and current owner of the golf course. Almost every major environmental group operating on the island had some involvement: the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace, CRE Montreal, the Sierra Club and the Green Coalition. It swept up many institutions in its wake, including McGill’s School of Urban Planning. And it involved countless citizen supporters. At one point, so many busloads of citizens arrived at Montreal City Hall that the administration had to bar the doors.

The early years of the fight to preserve Meadowbrook were tumultuous. Côte Saint-Luc council meetings were packed and boisterous. TV cameras whirred; bystanders heckled; local security called for reinforcement. Petitions were started; flyers were distributed door to door; newspapers printed riveting stories.

It led to some memorable quotes. Because the golf course is traversed and surrounded by train tracks and because it sits next to the largest rail yard in eastern Canada, there are always concerns about toxic spills. At the same time, these rail yards limit egress in case of a train accident. In order to allay the fears of potential buyers, one of the development scenarios proposed that houses come equipped with shatterproof glass windows and ventilation cut-off systems. This led Côte Saint-Luc councillor Glenn Nashen to exclaim, “What a lovely concept for family homeowners!”

It was also fraught with contradictions. In 2010, Montreal signed the Declaration of the Island of Montreal Community in favour of biodiversity and greening at the Biodiversity Summit held in Montreal. Projet Montréal Councillor Peter McQueen took the opportunity to put forth a motion to preserve Meadowbrook. It was defeated on Earth Day.

It even had its own Greta Thunberg. Maya Fedida, a student from Herzliah High School, asked Executive Committee Member Alan DeSousa to kill the development project and make Meadowbrook a park. He responded by saying that he had told the developer, “No.” The City was not interested in developing Meadowbrook.

It was not without intrigue. Secret negotiations were held with the developers, and illegal lobbying had been going on for years over the efforts to have the golf course developed.

In 2014, following public hearings on the Montreal Urban Agglomeration Land Use and Development Plan, the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM) recommended, once again, that Meadowbrook be preserved. In order to ensure that the Executive Committee accept the recommendations of the OCPM, citizens went into action, holding weekly meetings throughout the holiday season, starting a letter-writing campaign and phoning every councillor on Montreal City Council. Finally, after hours and hours of work by numerous citizens: victory. The Executive Committee designated Meadowbrook as green/recreational—a first step toward becoming a park.

This never was a project against housing. Rather, it was a fight for ready access to natural spaces. Meadowbrook is the only area in this part of the island that can provide such space. We spend most of our life within the city and we want access to natural spaces. We know that natural spaces provide considerable health, social and economic benefits.

May it not take another thirty years for Meadowbrook to become a park!


Al Hayek, member of Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook


Click on the link below to begin your interactive journey of Montreal’s political and environmental history in three sections complete with photos, quotes, original news clippings, and links to videos and other documents. Enjoy!


Compiled by Louise Legault, with help from from Sally Cole and Al Hayek and designed by Narges Haghighat.


This is followed by MEADOWBROOK THROUGH THE CENTURIES- A TIMELINE OF LAND USE   by Angela Rahaniotis with Sally Cole and Larry Paul

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