Saint-Lazare council adopts new environmental protection by-law
By John Jantak
THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/MONIQUE BISSONNETTE
Saint-Lazare council amended the proposed by-law to authorize tree cutting required to bring private roads up to municipal standards on the private portion of Sandmere and Oakridge but stressed a municipalization project will still have to be put in place to allow any future construction on those streets.
Saint-Lazare council unanimously adopted By-law 1095 during its monthly meeting on April 13. The new by-law replaces Plan 9 referred to in section 449.1 of zoning By-law 771 to ensure the protection of the forest ecosystems on its territory.
The objectives of By-law 1095 are to avoid fragmenting large forest areas, limiting the impact of human activity in wooded areas deemed ecologically highly valuable, protecting the town’s potable underground water sources, improving the collective ability to adapt to climate change, and maintaining wildlife, floral habitats and natural green corridors.
During the public consultation process that was held from February 18 to March 4, elected officials noted a large majority of the comments submitted were very favourable for the protection of the town’s forest ecosystems.
Council also noted that the majority of opponents to the proposed by-law were landowners who were primarily concerned about the impact of the by-law on future residential developments and the value of their land.
“These were not easy decisions for council to make. There are people out there who are not pleased with the decision and I understand their position. I think that when we received all the comments and questions during the public consultation period it was clear that the majority of the comments were in favour of conservation,” Mayor Robert Grimaudo told The Journal.
“As a council we have to make sure we’re not giving anyone an advantage or disadvantage on what they can and cannot do. Everybody has to be treated the same. I thought it was extremely important to protect everything we can possibly protect west of Côte Saint-Charles,” said Grimaudo.
The mayor added he’s been trying to find a way to be fair and allow residential construction east of Côte Saint-Charles and find a way to allow landowners to do something with their land without devastating the forest. “This is a very difficult task,” said Grimaudo. “The importance of protecting what we have left of our old growth forest and wetlands is very important. We must not forget that once they’re gone, there’s no getting them back. This is very important. The needs of the many basically outweigh the needs of the few. This is the way we have to look at it when it comes to the environment,” Grimaudo added.
Municipalization of private roads
By-law 1095 was also amended to authorize tree cutting required to bring private roads up to municipal standards in light of the possibility of the future municipalization of the private portions of Sandmere and Oakridge Streets.
The city notes that By-law 1095 concerns tree-cutting in forest ecosystems and not the issuance of construction permits on private streets. A municipalization project will still have to be put in place to allow construction on both Sandmere and Oakridge.
“This is an issue that’s been around for a long time. We’re looking at the possibility of opening those roads but the process is far from ready. The process is long and convoluted. A gentleman asked, ‘When can I get my building permit on Sandmere?’” said Grimaudo. “The exception to By-law 1095 that’s made in that zone is not a ticket to getting a building permit.”