Letter to the editor 1, Feb. 18, 2021
NDIP council ignores its citizens
It was quite a revelation that The Journal brought to light last week – namely the discovery of five major housing developments on the territory of Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot (NDIP) slated for 2021, two of which are being built in old growth forests. These two projects will require the destruction of roughly 50 per cent of the trees living there. This also means the destruction of wildlife habitats leading to the death or displacement of numerous species of plants and animals.
Given the growing environmental concerns of most citizens in the developed world and judging by numerous surveys, it comes as a surprise that such construction projects were given approval by NDIP council without public consultation.
The recent experience of Pincourt residents who rallied tirelessly to save the Rousseau Forest from development should have served as the impetus for our mayor and council to seek their constituents’ input and approval.
As a resident of NDIP for more than 25 years, I still remember from several town administrations ago the declaration of a moratorium on major housing developments as well as the rejection of the proposed Île-Perrot agglomeration – all that due to the outcry of citizens concerned about the rampant development along Saint-Joseph Boulevard. And the rejection of the agglomeration our town justified stating that the magic and charm of our territory needed to be preserved, namely the abundance of undeveloped green space.
The lack of transparency by our council galls me the most. Certainly, years ago, development like this would have been heralded by the town as a boost to its coffers and a vote of confidence for our milieu.
This time, the projects were quietly approved. One is left with the impression that council was fully aware of the expected controversy. The reaction of Mayor Danie Deschênes was typical – all information could be found on the NDIP website; it’s up to the citizens to be informed; it’s privately-owned land and the owners have a right to develop. There is no bold statement about what are considerably major developments, one at 15 units and another of 18 units.
How should we, as residents, inform ourselves? It’s not exactly advertised on the front page of the website. As a citizen, I try to remain informed. I receive the newsletter email as well as the ‘What’s New?’ publication by post. I used to read the public notices in both The Journal and the local French community newspaper but these seem to have disappeared.
When a house is slated for demolition, the town erects a sign on the property informing the citizenry, ostensibly, to allow for protest against the proposed demolition. Why was this not done for the proposed demolition of our forests?
The notion that all private landowners have a right to develop their property may seem fair at first glance. However, my understanding is that the majority of land in NDIP is privately owned. Where do we draw the line?
I know several wood lot owners in NDIP, one who expressed the desire to preserve his property as green space if the town and citizens were willing to buy it.
Which leads me to the pertinent question – why didn’t the NDIP council offer to buy the properties? Pincourt residents democratically decided the purchase of Rousseau Forest was worth the tax increase. Why didn’t our council extend the same courtesy? I’m not a rich man by local standards but I recognize that the human species needs to make the sacrifices required to preserve the very planet that sustains us.
I would accept a rise in my municipal taxes if it meant the preservation of such beautiful and necessary biodiversity.
Some may argue, “What are a few trees? We have so many anyway.” That way of thinking leads to death by 1,000 cuts. When you’re down to your last tree, what do you say then?
I would like for the NDIP elected representatives, who only two years ago released a 21-page tree policy titled ‘Politique de l’arbre pour une ville qui respire,’ to practice what they preach. It’s time to walk the walk and lead by example.