NDIP development protestors vow to continue
By Carmen Marie Fabio
PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO
Sylvie Tousignant of Le comité SOS Boisé des Chênes Blancs addresses media and the roughly 100 protesters who assembled near 63rd Avenue in Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot the morning of February 14 to symbolically decorate and celebrate the forest that’s being partially razed to allow for a 17-house development.
The cutting of trees for a disputed 17-house development project on 64th Avenue in Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot (NDIP)may have already begun but residents are vowing to continue to protest and are calling for a moratorium on this and four other housing projects slated to begin on the territory this year.
A rally held Sunday, February 14 organized by Le comité SOS Boisé des Chênes Blancs drew roughly 100 citizens including biologists, researchers, and Quebec Green Party leader Alex Tyrrell.
“I came to support the demands of the citizens who are calling for a moratorium on all new development on Île-Perrot until a global plan is presented that takes into account conservation and the protection of green space. I fully support their request for this moratorium,” Tyrrell told The Journal.
“I’m also calling on the Minister of the Environment Benoît Charette to redo the evaluations of this area here which, according to the citizens, contains endangered species including White oak trees and the Western chorus frog,” he added.
Experts speak up
“This is a very special and rare forest with a White oak community,” said biologist and PhD candidate at Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue Annie-Claude Bélisle. “It’s old growth and quite unique in southern Quebec,” she said, adding most White oaks have been felled for development.
“The forest likely dates back to colonization, and possibly even before,” Bélisle said. “There’s archeological and environmental value to the area. Woodlands are crucial for the population to access nature and reap the health benefits.”
The tree-cutting was to have begun in the spring but following citizen outcry, the developer moved the date forward and began cutting on February 9.
“There are many other projects set to take place on the island,” Bélisle added. “This group of citizens is a good start for protecting what’s left.”
PHOTO BY SÉBASTIEN BOISVERT
This Northern flicker is one of the many birds that currently inhabit the patch of land in NDIP known as White Oak Forest – soon to become home to a 17-house development.
“This site is so precious,” said area resident Sébastien Boisvert, “and as this movement is growing, lots of professionals are coming in pointing out that it’s an important spot for biodiversity.”
Boisvert said that even if there are efforts by the developer to preserve a portion of the White oaks, the development will include dynamite blasting which will have further detrimental effects on the forest.
“The mayor (Danie Deschênes) doesn’t seem to see the forest,” Boisvert said. “All she seems to see is the opportunity for development. In an address made to citizens earlier in February, she made it very clear – all privately owned woods were meant to be developed. There’s no plan to protect them.”
“The mayor made it clear the city needs tax money but there’s no concern for nature or for this forest,” added resident Sandra Gajdos. “There’s no concern for the animals whatsoever.”
Residents also voiced their objections against Mayor Deschênes for allowing the work to proceed without any sort of public consultation.