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Grassroots environmental group steps up NDIP development protest

By Carmen Marie Fabio



PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

NDIP resident and co-administrator of grassroots group ‘Notre Île Nautre’ Amanda Shaw-Yagoub (centre) has been handing out door-hangers in the town along with her daughter Zahra Yagoub (left) and family friend Nour-Eddine Rouissi in an effort to inform residents of upcoming planned housing developments.


Concerned with the planned housing developments for the Town of Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot (NDIP), a group of concerned citizens has incorporated a federally registered non-profit organization named Notre Île Nature.

The group, which now has over 230 members and, since April 7, has delivered over 2,000 door-hangers to NDIP homes to inform fellow residents of the new housing developments planned for the town and is encouraging people to submit their letters of concern which will then be forwarded to Mayor Danie Deschênes and councillors.

“This came up after the 64th Avenue forest protests,” said NDIP resident Amanda Shaw-Yagoub who, along with co-administrators Tim Work, a UQAM professor in the department of Science and Biology; environmentalist and photographer Josué Bertolino; Biologist Annie-Claude Bélisle, and Sylvie Tousignant have spearheaded the movement to encourage residents to speak up.

“We realized we needed to be better organized, not just for this forest but for all the other planned developments,” said Shaw-Yagoub. “We were blindsided by the 64th Avenue development and after all the protests, we decided to get ourselves organized.”


PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

As reported in The Journal since February, residents have held repeated protests about the 17-house project being built in Boisés de Chênes Blancs (White Oak Forest) on what has been classified as an exceptional forest ecosystem.

Shaw-Yagoub said she reached out to Mayor Deschênes in writing to see if she and council would be willing to discuss long-term strategies to preserve some of these wooded areas and reported she was shocked by the mayor’s response but declined to share the email with The Journal.

“I realized then there’s a lack of democracy here and we would need to lead a citizen effort.”

Bolstered by volunteers, a team has been going door-to-door to the roughly 5,000 houses in NDIP to deliver the door-hangers which state, in part, “Natural environments in NDIP are disappearing at an alarming rate but the mayor claims that ‘only a handful of citizens’ care. We say, on the contrary, the vast majority of NDIP-ers care about their environments and demand that elected officials develop a long-term plan to protect them.”



Feedback from the mayor

Reached by phone, Mayor Deschênes disputed some of the group’s claims.

“We’re in April; the only projects going on are 64th Avenue and 1210 Boulevard Perrot, starting today (April 14).” The latter project will contain 19 homes.

When asked if the other projects would continue, the mayor responded, “We treat every project in the same way. When everything is in order and the rules and regulations are met, we will go ahead. But it doesn’t have to be this year.” Deschênes added the other construction projects are contingent upon getting the okay from the Provincial Environment Ministry and that the city would respect the ownership of the land.

The mayor also disagreed with Shaw-Yagoub’s assessment of thei