Thanks to cities, we protect more green spaces than we think
Stéphane Boyer, Catherine Fournier and Valérie Plante, respectively mayors of Laval, Longueuil and Montreal.
Only 10% of the territory of Greater Montreal is legally protected, it is believed. However, although this figure reflects the strictest reality, it is not representative of all conservation efforts. The municipalities of Greater Montreal use several means of action to protect and conserve natural environments, but these means are poorly listed.
Métro has prepared a series of three reports on the new paradigm of environmental protection that is taking hold in Greater Montreal. This is the second script in the series.
“There is a tendency to do more and want to do more, in part because of coming to power elected officials sensitive to biodiversity, ecological services and access to nature for everyone,” explains Nature Québec’s executive director and biologist, Louise Gratton.
However, the actions undertaken do not necessarily meet the criteria of a protected area, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The Metropolitan Community of Montreal ( CMM) wishes to list and account for these initiatives in a Metropolitan Directory of Municipal Conservation Initiatives, in order to counter this bias in representation. Other protection measures not included in this directory also contribute to the protection of forest cover and other natural environments.
Initiatives submitted to the directory
The City of Longueuil plans to list two lots of 1,162 square meters acquired in the Boisé Du Tremblay in the directory. In addition, the CMM's Interim Control By-law (ICR) 2022-06 on natural environments temporarily protects 6.9% of the city's forest cover.
The sectors in green show the forest cover of Longueuil. In yellow, the sectors protected by different measures, excluding the CMM's RCI. CREDIT: Editing Metro, data taken from CMM maps.
Other sectors, such as Michel-Chartrand and de la Cité parks, are also protected by zoning regulations.
In addition, a Natural Environment Protection and Conservation Plan is in progress. course of development. It would ensure the protection in perpetuity of 1,500 hectares (ha) of natural and wetland environments as well as the implementation of measures to protect endangered species. Its adoption is expected in November.
In a highly urbanized environment like Longueuil, there are very few remaining natural environments. We must absolutely value the ecological services that are provided by natural environments. […] This is one of the greatest gestures a city can make in favor of the environment.
Catherine Fournier, Mayor of Longueuil
This plan also plans to restore access to nature to the population, through the enhancement and development of several currently unprotected green spaces.
Other municipalities in Greater Montreal have also submitted projects . The cities of Repentigny, Mascouche, Terrebonne, McMasterville and Delson are part of the lot.
Eight municipalities that submitted or will submit their projects to the Directory:
– Repentigny: the sectors of the Presqu’île trails, with a total conservation area of 64 ha
– Mascouche: the Domaine-Seigneurial-de-Mascouche metropolitan park, which extends over 257 ha and the trails of the Presqu'Île, with an area of 62 ha
– Blainville: 200 ha of protected natural environments (places to be defined)
– Terrebonne: the Ruisseau de Feu conservation park, i.e. 125 ha
– Saint-Constant: 14 wooded areas of fauna and flora interest with an area of approximately 65 ha
– McMasterville: Ruisseau-Bernard Park, corresponding to 10 ha
– Delson: Parc du Centenaire, nearly 9 ha, and a portion of Parc de la Tortue of nearly one ha
– Longueuil: two lots in the Boisé Du Tremblay of 1162 m2
Acquisition and long-term planning
In addition to listing projects in the directory , municipalities also take steps to preserve and conserve natural environments. In the north of the Island of Montreal, the City of Laval has taken concrete actions in this direction.
“All of the City's initiatives are part of the deployment of its Laval 2035 strategic vision: urban by nature. This vision expresses the municipal administration's desire to guide urban development in harmony with the conservation and enhancement of its natural environments,” said the City's public affairs advisor, Myriam Legault.
Among other things, the municipality has established the Laval green and blue network and adopted three master plans concerning urban forestry, parks and public spaces, as well as the conservation and enhancement of natural environments.
It has thus acquired twelve natural environments covering an area of 45 ha over the past year, such as Locas Island, two lots in Bois de l'Équerre as well as the Armand-Frappier riverbank.
The sectors in green show the forest cover of Laval. In yellow, the sectors protected by different measures, excluding the CMM's RCI. CREDIT: Montage Metro, data taken from CMM maps.
In addition, the City has introduced regulations on the use of pesticides and granted a grant of $500,000 to the organization CANOPÉE: Le Réseau des bois de Laval, for the realization of planting projects in order to fight against heat islands and increase the canopy.
An arsenal of means
The City of Montreal also acts in favor of the protection of natural environments and the preservation of biodiversity.
“The preservation of natural environments is a priority for the City of Montreal. In order to increase to 10% the share of protected natural environments on the territory, investments are planned for the preservation of wooded areas, habitats as well as wetlands and bodies of water”, declares the public relations officer for the City of Montreal Mélanie Dallaire.< /p>
The Grand Parc de l’Ouest extends over 3,000 ha, which is four times the size of Mount Royal. It includes Anse-à-l'Orme, Bois-de-L'Île-Bizard, the Bois-de-la-Roche agricultural park, Cap-Saint-Jacques and Rapides-du-Cheval-Blanc. . Other sectors of interest are spread over the territories of the boroughs and related cities, namely Pierrefonds-Roxboro and L'Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève, the cities of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Kirkland and Beaconsfield, as well as the village of Senneville.
Several different measures are deployed to link all these territories. In October 2019, Montreal acquired nearly 10 ha of land in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, for example. The City also reached an agreement with at least some of the entrepreneurs who wanted to develop the Pierrefonds- West. Île-Bizard was also recently recognized as a “humanized landscape”, a status that is specific to it within the Act respecting the protection of agricultural land and activities. Arboretum Morgan Forest Reserve consolidates these lands with 245 ha, which includes 25 kilometers of trails and a diversity of landscapes.
The sectors in green show the forest cover of the West Island of Montreal. In yellow, the sectors protected by different measures, including the CMM's RCI. CREDIT: Montage Métro, data taken from CMM and Ville de Montréal maps.
However, tensions may arise between landowners and the municipal administration. Some of the property developers of the Cap-Nature project thus sued the City and Valérie Plante for more than $170 million in Superior Court in September 2019.
In another case, the City sued used zoning to achieve its objectives. The Plante administration granted green space status to the southern section of Golf Métropolitain Anjou, preventing most types of development on this course.
Two new CMM regulations
On the other hand, the CMM's RCI 2022-96, adopted this spring, temporarily protects natural environments of metropolitan interest from residential, commercial or industrial development. It targets terrestrial environments, wetlands and the habitat of the Western Chorus Frog. Adopted in April, it should normally protect the vast majority of natural environments in Greater Montreal.
Another RCI, subject to approval by the provincial government, aims to ensure the protection of sectors that can be converted into green spaces or a natural environment. Six golf courses, located in Beloeil, Candiac, Chambly, Mascouche, Rosemère and Terrebonne, are essentially targeted.
At least 22.3% of the territory of Greater Montreal is now subject to a measure protection.
The ROIs do not, however, guarantee permanent protection. They allow the CMM to identify the means to implement in order to concretize the choices made in terms of protection and enhancement of natural components of metropolitan interest.