Pincourt announces it will save Rousseau Forest
By John Jantak
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Pincourt Vert environmental group members (left to right) Ash Lowenthal, Michel Pilon, Denise Goudreau, Carole Reed and Shelagh McNally each hug a tree in Rousseau Forest after hearing the Town of Pincourt will move forward with plans to preserve the woodland following the results of a public consultation process.
Pincourt Mayor Yvan Cardinal announced the town will proceed with plans to save Rousseau Forest – the news coming one day after a month-long, mail-in public consultation process was held to get feedback from residents regarding plans to preserve the woodland.
Cardinal said 524 people voted against preserving the forest, less than the 1,084 votes needed to hold a town-wide referendum that would have determined the fate of the woodlands. “The public consultation process is now finished,” he said. “The good news is that the people of Pincourt have voted to save Rousseau Forest.”
Negotiations with lot owners
The next step for the town is to continue negotiations with the various owners to purchase all the remaining lots that are owned by private entities. “We’ll take all the time we need to come to an agreement with all the owners. We’re happy to have heard from the citizens about this issue,” said Cardinal.
The mayor said despite initial criticism from some residents about holding the public consultation process during a pandemic, the outcome shows that the will of the people came through despite the many hindrances that have affected people as a result of the coronavirus.
“I think we made a good decision to go ahead with the public consultation instead of waiting. It was a very good process,” said Cardinal. The town is also waiting to hear word regarding the various subsidies that are available from different levels of government that would help to defray the $4.3 million cost of acquiring the woodland.
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Following years of pushback from environmental groups, the Town of Pincourt is proceeding to save the wooded lot known as Rousseau Forest from becoming a housing development.
Pincourt Vert welcomes the news
The local environmental group spokesperson for Pincourt Vert, Shelagh McNally, and other members welcomed the news. Pincourt Vert has been vigorously campaigning to preserve one of the last remaining green spaces in the town from development for the past three years.
“We’re elated,” said McNally. “This is a fantastic way to move forward. We’re so happy that almost everybody in Pincourt feels the same way by recognizing how important our forests are. We really want to applaud council for having the courage and the foresight to look towards the future and taking on a new way of doing things.”
More equitable taxation requested
The next challenge for Pincourt Vert is to try to persuade council to revise its property taxation scheme which requires homeowners who live close to the forest to pay more than other property owners. The group feels that the property tax should be the same amount for all residents since everyone in the town will benefit from the forest’s preservation.
Under the current property tax scheme, homeowners who live on the streets directly behind the forest in Pool 1 will have to pay an additional tax of $283.10 annually. The tax rate for property owners in Pool 2 across the street from the forest will pay $215.10 more each year. All other property owners in Pincourt will be required to pay an additional $36.61 annually. The taxation amounts will be in place for a 30-year period.
The woodland is made up of 46 lots, 31 of which belong to the company 9358-1973 Québec Inc., nine which belong to the Développement Banlieue-Ouest Inc., and six others that belong to individual landowners. Pincourt’s zoning by-laws have allowed for real estate development in this area since 1954.