• John Jantak

Pincourt Vert says saving Rousseau Forest will benefit entire city


(Left to right): Ash Lowenthal, Denise Goudreau, Carole Reed and Shelagh McNally maintain that preservation of the wooded area will benefit all Pincourt residents and the burden of its purchase shouldn’t be disproportionately delegated to a small segment of the population.

Members of the environmental group Pincourt Vert have expressed their concerns about the city’s plans to hold a mail-in and online public consultation process regarding the fate of Rousseau Forest saying that the preservation of the wetlands will benefit the entire city – not just those who live adjacent to or near the forest.

Residents who live on the streets that border the forest received special notices in their mailboxes about two weeks ago informing them of the consultation process. All other residents were informed through the city’s two electronic billboards, Info-P app and website.

Property owners who live on the streets directly behind the forest in Pool 1 will have to pay a special tax of $283.10 annually. The tax share rate for property owners in Pool 2 directly across the street from the forest will be $215.10 annually. All other property owners in Pincourt will be required to pay an additional $36.61 annually to preserve the woodlands.

‘Very unfair’

Resident Denise Goudreau who lives across the street from the forest and resides in Pool 2 feels the tax burden should be shared equally by all Pincourt property owners because all residents will benefit from the forest’s preservation.

“I think it’s very unfair. It doesn’t make any sense to me that about 80 people will have to pay an exorbitant amount of money for the forest when everyone else is going to benefit from it as well. Why don’t they just make it across the board and raise taxes $40 a year for everyone?” asked Goudreau.

Creating polarization

“What I’m really upset about as well is that the town has created such polarization between my neighbour and me. There’s so much fighting going on in the Pincourt Peeps group on Facebook. It’s just created a lot of anger. It shouldn’t be that way. We’re better than that,” Goudreau added.

Pincourt Vert spokesperson Shelagh McNally said she is perplexed by the way city is handling the issue. “The informal poll we did revealed that everyone is quite happy to pay $36 a year to save the forest. We don’t understand why there’s a differentiation between Pool 1 and Pool 2. To ask 80 families to carry nine per cent of the burden just doesn’t make any logical sense,” McNally told The Journal.

The city noted that the special tax rate for people who live near the forest is because they get special value for their money by living close to the wetlands.

Offsetting future environmental problems

But for McNally, the benefits extend beyond the immediate neighbourhood. “The reason we’re saving this forest is to reduce the urban heat problem, provide clean air and offset the environmental problems we have with cars, asphalt and all these things. It’s a space where everyone can go for a walk. It’s for everyone - the whole city,” said McNally.

“We want to recognize that the city has been working to save it and we’re appreciative of that. We just don’t understand why there are two pools. They’re trying to buy the land back and we’re very grateful for that. We’re just perplexed that it was rolled out in a way that has people at loggerheads,” she added.

District 1 Councillor Alexandre Wolford and District 5 Councillor Claudine Girouard-Morel voted against the resolution. Rousseau Forest is located in District 5.