Letter to the editor 1, July 18, 2019

The Place Verde Saga

Dear Editor,

Having read James Armstrong’s article in last week’s The Journal regarding the increase from 40 per cent to 49 per cent of land classified as wetlands in Saint-Lazare’s Place Verde project, I found it odd that the developer would change his plans this far into the project. How is it possible for their biologist to be so wrong about the size and location of wetlands?

Such a large area of land (9% = 400,000 sq-ft. or 37,000 sq-m) being incorrectly classified by a biologist is hardly within an acceptable ‘margin of error,’ which is why Saint- Lazare needs to change the way characterization studies are mandated, reviewed, verified, and implemented. However, the story of Place Verde is more complex. In 2007 Genivar did characterization studies and published a report which included the same area where Place Verde is now located, and identified it has having high ecological value, recommending the area be put in conservation in its entity.

Saint-Lazare's master conservation plan, which was adopted in 2014, suggested this same zone should be put in 100 per cent conservation. The McGill Liber Ero study published in 2016 also recommended protecting this same zone of high value wetlands. All these recommendations were in the hands of the town when Place Verde was proposed, but the developer had his own characterization study done and successfully submitted it to the mayor and the previous councillors.

Why did the town ignore these three reports which all stipulated 100 per cent conservation of this area and allow the developer to build roads and houses on these high value wetlands without challenging or verifying the submitted studies?

The mayor proudly stated that the previous council negotiated with the developer to saved 40 per cent of the land (wetlands) even-though all studies recommended saving 100 per cent. Sixty per cent short, is hardly what I would call a success!

Developers doing their own environmental studies is a major conflict of interest. The town of Saint-Lazare should be mandating all studies, so as to have total control and transparency, with the developers paying the cost of all necessary studies that may be required for a development to get approval. We need changes in order to protect the unique bio-diversity of Saint-Lazare.

Concerned citizen Alan Nicol

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