• John Jantak

Pincourt residents hope to save Rousseau Forest from development


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

A group of Pincourt residents are hopeful they can keep a parcel of land known as the Rousseau Forest from development despite its current zoning.

The possible disappearance of one of the last remaining forested areas to development in Pincourt prompted several residents to voice their concerns to Mayor Yvan Cardinal during question period at the Tuesday evening council meeting, November 14.

The affected site known as the Rousseau Forest is bounded by Boulevard Olympique, Place Rousseau, Rue Laflèche and 19th Avenue. It was zoned for residential construction in 1954 and is the last zone in the area slated for development, said Cardinal.

Endangered species

Resident Michel Pilon said he would like the forest to remain untouched if possible. “We would like it to stay as a forest and keep it from development. We don’t have a lot of green space left in Pincourt. The only way to do that would be if the Quebec Environment Ministry determines there are species of animals that could become extinct.”

Development could be suspended if the provincial environment ministry discovers there are rare fauna that are threatened with extinction in the forest. Pilon said the woods are apparently populated with the rare Western chorus frog.

Western chorus frog

Town Manager Michel Perrier noted that a housing development in the South Shore municipality of La Prairie was halted because the endangered Western chorus frog was discovered in the woods. The federal government issued an emergency decree preventing construction in July 2016 under the Species at Risk Act that was passed in 2002.

The promoter of Rousseau Forest would also have to conduct an environmental assessment study to determine what impact a new development would have on the surrounding area, said Cardinal.

All the property owners also have reportedly not necessarily agreed on whether they want to proceed with the project. The town has not received an application for a development permit from the promoter so far, said Cardinal.

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Sauvez Rousseau Forest

A Facebook page called Sauvez Rousseau Forest was created in the last two weeks to inform citizens about the project. Green Coalition spokesperson Carole Reed said she would prefer if the entire forest could be preserved, but is also pragmatic about that possibility.

Both Reid and Pilon said they’re not necessarily opposed to future development as long as it’s reasonable. They said the promoter should protect at least 20 per cent of the area instead of the 10 per cent that’s required by the environment ministry.

‘A difficult position’

“We have to respect the owners of the land. I understand the mayor and council are in a difficult position because that land has been zoned residential since 1954. If anything were to be done to save it, it should have been done before now. It could have been rezoned but it wasn’t. Unfortunately now we have to deal with the consequences,” Reed told Your Local Journal.

“I also understand that when promoters are involved to develop a land, the city can’t just turn around and rezone it because that opens up the town to lawsuits,” Reed said. “We’re a small town. We can’t afford millions of dollars in legal bills and fines. But this doesn’t mean we’re going to give up the fight to preserve as much of this land as possible.”

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