Pincourt council decides to save Rousseau Forest from development
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Environmental group Pincourt Vert members Joanne Perry (left), Marielle Clément, Denise Goudreau, Shelagh McNally and Steve Perry in Rousseau Forest the day after Pincourt Mayor Yvan Cardinal announced that the city would preserve the woodland from development.
Pincourt Mayor Yvan Cardinal and all six councillors unanimously agreed to preserve a four-and-a-half hectare parcel of wooded land known as Rousseau Forest from development at the Tuesday evening council meeting on October 8.
The announcement was greeted with applause by members of Pincourt Vert, a local environment group that has repeatedly pleaded with council to save the forest since May 2018. Rousseau Forest, also known as Place Pierre Brunet, is regarded as one of the last wooded areas next to the Ottawa River.
‘All options are on the table’
“We all voted to protect the woods. That’s clear,” Cardinal told The Journal after the meeting. The city will now negotiate with the developers to find a mutually satisfactory agreement that will allow the city to purchase the land including a possible land swap. “All options are on the table,” said Cardinal.
Groupe Allard/Ménard had planned to build about 45 houses in Rousseau Forest. They also recently launched a legal challenge against the city for not issuing the required municipal permits that would have allowed construction to begin. The provincial environment ministry had already issued a permit which allowed for development on the land to proceed.
WSP biologist report
Council’s decision comes just days after the city received an environmental report it commissioned exclusively from the engineering firm WSP. The report’s focus was to determine the significance the woods have on the municipality including the various flora and fauna that thrive in the forest.
“I’m really proud to be a part of Pincourt Vert and the dynamic team we have,” said resident Denise Goudreau. “I’m thankful to the citizens who supported and believed in us. And I’m thankful council finally agreed to listen to us and go in this direction. Pincourt can become a frontrunner and an example that people can get together and save a forest. We can make a difference.”
Delighted with council’s decision
Shelagh McNally, who spearheaded the initiative to save Rousseau Forest and created the Pincourt Vert environment group, was delighted with council’s decision. McNally, along with several other residents, attended council meetings regularly the past 18 months to plead with council to preserve the woods.
“It’s fantastic,” said McNally. “It’s great to see that council really understands the times we live in, especially with the climate crisis. It’s really wonderful that they’re making their biologist’s report available to people and that they’re willing to negotiate with the developer. I hope the developer can see the value in saving Rousseau Forest.”
Endangered Little Brown Bat
Pincourt Vert had commissioned their own biologist’s report that confirmed the presence of the Little Brown Bat – an endangered species in Quebec – within the forest which is also an important migratory route for several bird species, said McNally.
Their report was submitted to council this summer. Groupe Allard/Ménard had also presented its own biologist’s report earlier to the city. Mayor Cardinal stated council would not be swayed by either report. It would determine the fate of the forest based exclusively on the results of its biologist’s report which will be posted on the city’s website at villepincourt.qc.ca.