Regulation protecting Saint-Lazare wetlands moves forward
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
A wetland zone associated with the proposed Mon Village project is the sole exemption to the new regulation.
Residents of Saint-Lazare had the opportunity to ask questions and share their comments regarding Regulation 1070 during a public consultation meeting held Tuesday, June 25 at City Hall. The regulation protects all wetlands in the territory of Saint-Lazare replacing an earlier version that covered a smaller territory within the urban perimeter. It prohibits the backfilling and excavation of all wetlands throughout the city. There is one exception to the regulation that was part of the previous ruling – Zone C-052. The zone is a relatively small area in the territory of the Mon Village residential and commercial building project according to the city’s zone maps.
Questions and concerns
Several citizens raised concerns about the exception and its approval process. According to Mayor Robert Grimaudo, the Quebec Environment Ministry had approved the exception but was not certain about the date.
“That needs to be verified with the Urban Planning Department,” said Councillor Geneviève Lachance who is the elected member of Environmental Committee for the city.
When asked if all of the wetlands in Saint-Lazare had been identified, the mayor replied that hadn’t happened to date, adding there was an associated cost for carrying out characterization studies to identify wetlands. The penalty for breaking the law would be a fine according to the mayor. It was pointed out some developers have the financial means to absorb a fine and the penalty should be adjusted to include an obligation to return a damaged wetland to its former state within a prescribed period of time.
“We have to follow the regulations of the Quebec government but we have the option to make ours more severe,” said Grimaudo noting the suggestions would be taken into consideration
The definition of a wetland was also raised in relation to areas that have become wetlands in recent years due to development projects and redirection of run-off water from rain and melting snow.
“Once a wetland becomes a wetland, it is protected,” said the mayor.
Council approved the first project of Regulation 1070 during the June 11 council meeting. According to the presentation, it does not require approval by referendum but will be adopted by council during the monthly meeting on July 9. Following the adoption by council, the regulation would be sent to the Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS) for certification of conformity in August. The regulation is anticipated to come into force in August when the certification process is complete.
“I think it’s a good first step,” said Lachance following the consultation. “Listening to the comments, I think we can change a few things. We need to be really sure about the definition of a wetland.”
Other residents expressed concerns the regulation didn’t go far enough leaving the door open for developers to find possible ways around the law.