• John Jantak

Pincourt Vert keeps up the battle to save Rousseau wetlands


THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/ JOHN JANTAK

UQAM biologist and Pincourt resident Elyssa Cameron said the area trees are an incredible resource and worth saving for both the human and financial benefits.

About 30 people, many of whom were there in support of the environmental group Pincourt Vert, crammed into the council chamber at the Omni-Centre in Pincourt during the Tuesday evening council meeting on August 13 to tell Mayor Yvan Cardinal and the six councillors that the town must seriously consider preserving the forested wetlands at Place Pierre Brunet, also known to locals as Rousseau Forest, from development.

Elyssa Cameron, a researcher at the Université du Québec a Montréal (UQAM) and biologist by trade, was one of several residents who attempted to persuade council about the importance of preserving one of the last forested areas within the municipality.

An incredible resource

“Oftentimes we don’t realize what we have until it’s too late and it’s gone. Trees are an incredible resource. They stop carbon, reduce temperatures, and improve our health and wellbeing. They’re a resource often overlooked at the expense of money. I think it’s worth saving it while we have it before we have to invest lots of money to gain what we already have for free,” Cameron told The Journal after the meeting.

She went on to detail the health benefits forests have on communities. “They reduce the number of asthma cases each year and reduce deaths related to cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. There’s a huge study that came out in the United States that showcased 21,000 additional deaths because of the loss of Ash trees as a result of the Emerald Ash Borer. Trees improve our mental health and diminish our stress level. The benefits are endless,” Cameron said.

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Many residents at the Tuesday evening Pincourt council meeting on August 13 continued their efforts to try to persuade the town to permanently cancel a proposed residential development slated for Place Pierre Brunet also known to locals as Rousseau Forest.

Disappearing forests

Cameron is a new resident to Pincourt having moved into the city last November after growing up in neighbouring L’Île-Perrot.

“I’ve lived here my whole life. I well aware of the changes that have happened on the island over the past few years in regards to development and the amount of forests that have been lost. It’s a little bit frightening,” she said.

Mayor Yvan Cardinal said council will decide whether a proposed 45-unit residential project will proceed or be scrapped after the city receives its own biologist’s report on the environmental status of the Rousseau Forest. There is no firm date on when the report will be delivered to the city although it could happen with the next two months.

Decision will be based on environmental study

The town will then review the study and make a decision on whether the forest will be preserved or whether the developer can proceed with its residential project. The completed report will also be available to the public under a formal access to information request after council delivers its decision.

The issue has pitted local residents against developers Habitations Raymond Allard and Les Habitations Sylvain Ménard who own the land and plan to build about 45 single family homes. The developers have already received approval from the provincial environment ministry to proceed with the project but have been stymied because the town has not issued a permit to begin tree cutting and land clearing operations.

Legal proceedings against the town

The developers launched legal proceedings against the town for their refusal to issue the required permit that will allow work to begin on the land. The town is adamant it will not grant a development permit until it reviews the environmental report it commissioned. Only then will the town determine whether the project will proceed or be cancelled.

Pincourt Vert spokesperson Shelagh McNally was pleased with the turnout saying people are adamant about protecting the forest.

Important part of the community

“I think we’re demonstrating that the citizens of Pincourt want to save our green space. We’re tired of waking up to bulldozers and having our forest cut without any consultation,” said McNally. “Rousseau Forest is a very important part of our community. The people who are here tonight are saying it’s time for us to begin protecting our green spaces.”

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