• John Jantak

Pincourt encourages residents to submit biodiversity data that could help save Rousseau Forest


THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/JOHN JANTAK

Over 50 residents attended the June 12 Pincourt Town Council meeting to ask council to help save the last wooded area in the neighbourhood.

The Town of Pincourt is encouraging residents who want to preserve a wooded green space known as Rousseau Forest to take proactive measures to convince the provincial Environment Ministry there are endangered species of plants and wildlife that would merit the woodland being saved from development.

The suggestion was made by Mayor Yvan Cardinal and Town Manager Michel Perrier during question period at the Tuesday evening council meeting on June 12. Almost 50 residents were at the meeting, mostly to ask council to save the last wooded area in the neighbourhood near Parc Olympique.

Large biodiversity

The town’s reply came after resident Eric Brunet-Chartrand read an excerpt from a biologist’s report that stated, “This wetland is one of the few wetlands in Pincourt. It is a high biodiversity area with 56 varieties of plants confirmed, 25 species of migratory and resident birds, two salamander species, the map and painted turtles, and at least three snake species, brown snake, garter snake and milk snake.”

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK The Rousseau Forrest is currently home to nesting woodpeckers and falcons, salamanders and frogs, as well as squirrels and chipmunks.

“The report should be sent to the town instead of reading an extract to council,” replied Perrier. “We’ll take note of it and if there’s sensitive information, we’ll be more than glad to forward it to the ministry so they can take a look at it. Basically it’s the ministry that has the power to stop a project or decree that there won’t be a project on the land because there’s endangered species or trees or flowers.”

Possible inaccurate reports

When a new development is proposed, a developer must hire an engineering firm to conduct a biodiversity study on any land it wants to build on. The study is then sent to the Environment Ministry for review and they either approve or reject it, said Perrier.

“The problem with this system is the ministry essentially relies on the report that’s produced. No one from the ministry goes on site. I’m not saying a company may cheat, but they may go onto the land at an inappropriate time like when it’s very cold and there won’t be many species. Sometimes the results of the studies may not be 100 per cent accurate,” said Perrier.

Mayoral support

Mayor Cardinal said he supports the residents’ conservation efforts. “We’ve given them information on what they should do to save the forest. We’re not against them. The final decision will come from the Environment Ministry. Citizens should send us whatever information they may have so we can send it to the ministry,” Cardinal told The Journal.

Perrier is also adamant the town is not violating the federal migratory bird act when a law firm sent a ‘mise en demeure,’ a formal notice on May 25 advising the town to not cut down any trees in Rousseau Forest because it would contravene the federal migratory bird act. “The town is not in contravention of this regulation. We’re not the owner of the land,” he said.

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Eric Brunet-Chartrand, the grandson of the late Pierre Brunet who apparently gifted a large amount of land to the Town of Pincourt including a significant portion that is now Parc Olympique, told council on June 12 he feels his grandfather didn’t intend for the town to allow every bit of remaining forest to be developed. Rousseau Forest is also officially called Place Pierre-Brunet in honour of Brunet-Chartrand’s grandfather.

Place Pierre-Brunet

Eric Brunet-Chartrand reminded council that Rousseau Forest is officially called Place Pierre-Brunet to honour the memory of his late grandfather who had apparently gifted a large amount of land to the town, including a significant portion that is now Parc Olympique.

Brunet-Chartrand isn’t certain which land may have been gifted or sold to the town. He is currently researching the history of the transactions that took place.

Despite the uncertainty, Brunet-Chartrand told council he feels his grandfather didn’t intend for the town to allow every bit of remaining forest to be developed. “I don’t think it was the intention of my grandfather,” he said.

Urban oasis

Steve Perry called Rousseau Forest an urban oasis. “It really benefits the city in a lot of ways as a property that’s an ecological resource. It’s a fascinating place. A lot of people don’t appreciate it until you walk through it,” he said.

“It’s a part of the community. I think we have a responsibility to be stewards of the land we use. If you’re going to develop a city, leave these pieces in the city. You can build around them and create a much richer landscape,” Perry added.

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