• John Jantak

Pincourt will conduct its own environmental study regarding Place Pierre-Brunet


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

A dried up wetland in Place Pierre-Brunet on August 15, 2018. Pincourt council announced it has hired a firm to conduct an environmental assessment of the area which is slated for residential development amid the protests of a group of residents who want the green space preserved.

Pincourt council has awarded a mandate to WSP professional services firm to conduct a biological study of the wildlife and fauna in Place Pierre-Brunet to determine its environmental significance to the municipality. The announcement was made during the Tuesday evening council session on August 14.

The $15,000 study – before taxes – is the first part of a possible three-phase environmental study that will begin immediately. A report will be presented to council by the end of October by biologist Jean-Pierre Ricard. The findings will determine whether further studies would be warranted that could begin next spring.

Two different study results

The town’s decision to proceed with its own study is to try to find an unbiased balance between two diverse groups who respectively support and oppose the development. Residential housing developers Habitations Raymond Allard Inc. and Habitations Sylvain Ménard Inc. want to build a residential project on the land they own.

According to the environmental report that was prepared for both developers and submitted to the provincial environment ministry, the ministry issued a development permit to both parties that will allow them to clear the land and begin construction.

The permit allows the developers to technically begin tree cutting by October when the developer would no longer be in contravention of the Federal Migratory Bird Act. Details of this report have not been made public.

But another environmental report that was prepared for the members of a conservation group committed to save the woods known to locals as Rousseau Forest found species of animals and fauna unique to the area. The group has asked the town to disallow development because of the findings in this report.

Neutral report

Rather than rely on what seems to be contradictory information in two separate reports regarding whether the land should be developed or preserved, the city will have their own study prepared which will enable officials to decide on the future of the woodland, said Town Manager Michel Perrier.

“We’ve heard both sides and council decided that we’re going to do our very own study so that we can get our own answers,” said Perrier. “We’ll also do as much as we can right now taking into consideration the time of the year. If at the end of this study it’s found that there’s no environmental value, council will make its decision whether or not to proceed with more studies at that time. If council determines more studies are required, they will be done beginning next spring.”

Mayor Yvan Cardinal said its study will provide the town with a neutral assessment of the forest and wetlands in Place Pierre-Brunet. “It’s a good decision. We’ll have a neutral report. It will be easier for council make a decision. We’re starting now because if we wait for spring, we won’t have the data from this fall. If we find something we will continue the study in the spring,” Cardinal told The Journal.

Welcome news

The news was welcomed by area residents who have been vigorously voicing their concerns to council since May about the importance of preserving one of the last significant untouched green spaces in Pincourt said Shelagh McNally, member of the local preservation group Sauvez Rousseau Wetlands.

“It’s wonderful that they’re listening to their citizens. I think they really understand what the residents are saying about the specialness of this forest. It’s the last wetland on the island next to the Ottawa River,” said McNally.

“The preliminary biology study we did found the amount of flora and fauna within that small space is quite astounding. It’s more than has been seen in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and other areas. This indicates it’s a very important area. There’s no place else for any of these species, any of the animals and trees which are becoming more and more rare,” said McNally.

Proper analysis needed

While McNally is pleased with the town’s initiative, she said a year-long study is required to properly conduct a biological analysis preferably beginning next spring.

“If the study is done in the fall, all the plants will have died, the animals won’t be visible and the birds will have migrated. The wetlands are already dried up. Spring into early summer is the only time you’ll be able to see the rare animals, migratory birds and wetlands properly in the context of how important they are to this ecosystem,” said McNally

The campaign to preserve the forest has generated a lot of support. Resident Michel Pilon presented two petitions to council with over 1,600 signatures during the council meeting’s second question period.

The first petition had 166 signatures from area residents who signed a hard-copy during a recent door-to-door information blitz. A second petition on-line has garnered 1450 electronic signatures so far. McNally said the petition drive will continue to gather more signatures from Pincourt residents who want the forest preserved.

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