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Vandalism at the White Oaks construction project

By Carmen Marie Fabio

Photo courtesy Facebook

The town of Notre-Dame-de-L’île-Perrot released a communiqué March 5 denouncing a reported act of vandalism at the contested 17-house development site on 64th Avenue.

“The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) has opened an investigation to shed light on this new attempt at violent intimidation of opponents of a residential project that entirely complies with regulations,” it stated.

The acts of vandalism were reportedly committed during the night from Thursday to Friday on the site of the development project. An excavator was set on fire, and the windows of vehicles inside were smashed. The vandals left a poster on which was written, « SOS Sauvons les chênes ».

“After spreading slanderous and hate speech on social media, opponents are starting to cross a disturbing line,” the communiqué continued. “Their gesture could have had serious consequences for citizens. I hope that the investigation conducted by the Sûreté du Québec will identify those responsible for these disgraceful acts which resort to violence to express their disagreement in the face of a residential project which has obtained all the necessary authorizations from the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les Changements climatiques (MELCC),” declared Mayor Danie Deschênes.

“Enough is enough! The vast majority of opponents of the project do not live in Notre-Dame-de-Île-Perrot. Only a handful of them live here. The movement is led by activists who call for civil disobedience. From the very start of their campaign, they have been conveying false information about the flora and fauna that characterize the woodland as it is considered one of the last woodlands of white oaks south of the St. Lawrence and the Western Chorus Frog is found there. It's wrong!” added Deschênes.

The Journal has been covering this story closely and has previously interviewed biologist and PhD candidate at Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue Annie-Claude Bélisle who said, “This is a very special and rare forest with a White oak community. It’s old growth and quite unique in southern Quebec,” she said, adding most White oaks have previously been felled for development.

The Journal also obtained a copy of a 24-page report on the area prepared by Université de Montréal Graduate student and consultant archaeologist Alex Lefrançois-Leduc who specializes in dendroarchaeology, the study of vegetation and structural remains using tree-ring dating.

The report looks at the geological history of the area, historical and archaeological framework, and aboriginal occupation. The impact analysis and recommendations for the draft real estate development was issued to the town February 9.

The report concludes by recommending the complete preservation of the area to ensure the protection of any archaeological heritage due to the qualities of its landscape and inherent culture. It continues, “In the event that woodlot preservation is not an option chosen by the promoter, the municipality, and the Ministry of Culture and Communications, we recommend carrying out an archaeological inventory of the area prior to development.”

The mayor has said that the city's development vision is based on respect for the environment and is backed by rigorous scientific data and analysis. The communiqué continues to state that Notre-Dame-de-Île-Perrot is a an eco-responsible city that has a clear environmental policy comprising several initiatives for the entire territory. Members of council and municipal administration have always had a privileged a dialogue based on listening and respect.

“Vandalism does not promote constructive exchanges, on the contrary. Those responsible will have to answer for their actions,” Mayor Deschênes concluded.