• John Jantak

New land acquisition expands Ste. Anne’s L’Anse-à-l’Orme nature reserve to 70 hectares


Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa at the Monday evening council meeting on June 11. Council unanimously adopted a resolution regarding the endorsement of two letters signed in May by Hawa to proceed with the acquisition of 14 hectares of land to expand the L’Anse-à-l’Orme nature park in north sector of the town.

Ste. Anne de Bellevue’s commitment to enlarge the L’Anse-à-l’Orme nature park moved forward with council’s endorsement of two letters signed in May by Mayor Paola Hawa to proceed with the acquisition of 14 hectares of land to expand the L’Anse-à-l’Orme nature park in the north sector.

The endorsement was approved at the June 11 council meeting. It ended a contentious $35 million legal battle that was launched against the city by Développement Immobilier Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue (DISAB) which sold the land for $9.5 million to the Montreal agglomeration.

Conservation commitment

It also begins a new chapter for Ste. Anne’s regarding the city’s commitment to preserve another 14 hectares of green space in the north sector. “I’m ecstatic about it,” Mayor Paola Hawa told The Journal. “I’ve been working towards this for a long time. Ever since I came onto council in 2009, you’re looking at 70 hectares in total that have been saved so far.”

She’s also grateful to the residents who supported her preservation stance. “Thank goodness for the citizens of Ste. Anne’s who did not fall for that fear-mongering regarding the $35 million lawsuit against the city and what would happen if we didn’t allow DISAB to get their way,” said Hawa.

“They saw right through that and did the right thing. They trusted me that I was telling them the truth and that we were going to pull out of it fine. This is exactly what happened. We pulled out of it more than fine. Thank you citizens of Ste. Anne’s,” said Hawa.

‘Other cities can do their share’

When asked whether the entire L’Anse-à-l’Orme corridor has been saved, Hawa replied, “It depends on who you speak with. If you ask some of the green groups like the Green Coalition and the Suzuki Foundation, they’ll say we should still be preserving areas south of the hydro line and north of Chemin Ste. Marie. They would say we need to protect that also.”

Other municipalities have to share the responsibility to preserve the remaining green spaces in their districts, said Hawa. “If you ask me in terms of Ste. Anne’s, we’ve done more than our fair share of preserving portions of L’Anse-à-l’Orme within our territory,” she said.

“It’s now time for other cities to do their share for the benefit of the entire Island of Montreal and everybody’s quality of life and respect for the environment,” added Hawa


Braerob farmhouse

While the portion of land around the former Braerob farmhouse will be developed in accordance with the city’s urban development plan, Hawa said Ste. Anne’s is still adamant about preserving the remains of the farmhouse.

“As part of the deal with Montreal which we deposited yesterday, Montreal will also be doing other acquisitions and as part of that deal, the responsibility for Ste. Anne’s will be to either restore or renovate the Braerob farmhouse,” said Hawa.

“It could be as simple as keeping the original four stone walls and building something around it as an entrance chalet to the eco territory. If that can’t be done, then we’ll have to build a new entrance chalet. Let’s just compare what the costs of something like that would be versus what the investments of the agglomeration would be and I think you’ve got a pretty good deal,” Hawa added.

Significant achievement

The preservation of an additional 14 hectares of L’Anse-à-l’Orme is a significant achievement for Montreal regarding their commitment to preserve at least 10 per cent of the total land on the island exclusively as green space. It’s also a significant portion of land being preserved for the wellbeing of Ste. Anne’s residents, said Hawa.

“Montreal came out with a policy of preserving at least 10 per cent of the island as green space years ago. We’re way short. I think we’re about six per cent as a whole and it includes cemeteries as green spaces. We’re way behind in terms of what the objective is that was set 20 years ago,” said Hawa.

“The last green spaces are in Ste. Anne’s and Pierrefonds. If you want to reach an objective and Montreal is offering you a partnership to reach that objective, we took it. It wasn’t just like knocking on their door. It was a long, long process. There was a lot of convincing, cajoling, compromising and patience required. It’s been a long, long process but with a very happy ending,” said Hawa.

Praise for Coderre and Plante

Hawa praised both current Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante and former Mayor Denis Coderre for their commitment to preserving L’Anse-à-l’Orme. “They’ve absolutely been wonderful. The process began under former Mayor Coderre. I don’t want to forget or belittle that. He started the process,” said Hawa.

“The Plante administration finalized the file at breakneck speed. As soon as we were both elected in November, I had already met in December with Luc Ferrandez (responsible for parks and green spaces for the City of Montreal), and by January we had an agreement with the promoters,” Hawa added.

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