Montreal moves to protect Ste. Anne green space

Anthony Abbondanza
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Anse-a-L’Orme Nature Park to be expanded following city of Montreal’s purchase

Announced just days before Christmas, the expansion of Anse-a-L’Orme Nature Park  is part of a larger Montreal conservation project to protect many of the island’s green spaces.

With roughly 288 hectares of green space now secured for Anse-a-L’Orme Nature Park, Ste. Anne de Bellevue is on its way to becoming the West Island’s premier ecotourism destination.

The City of Montreal’s recent purchase of roughly 10 acres of land from private landowner Gestion Cordevco Ltd. for $1.9 million guaranteed the nature park’s protection from housing development.

“This is a really good thing for Ste. Anne,” said Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa. “It helps position us more than ever as the green space on the island of Montreal. We have the cleanest air, the cleanest environment.”

Announced just days before Christmas, the expansion is part of a larger Montreal conservation project.

"This acquisition will strengthen our conservation project in the l'Anse-a-l’Orme ecoterritory and continue the implementation of the policy of protection and enhancement of the natural environment," said Réal Ménard, head of sustainable development, the environment, large parks and green spaces to Montreal’s executive committee.

The land acquired features forest –containing maple, northern red ash, and common hackberry trees –and wetland habitats within the designated Riviere-a-L’Orme eco-territory, which includes Cap-St-Jacques Nature Park in Pierrefonds, as well as Angell Woods in Beaconsfield.

Montreal purchased an additional 180 and 31 hectares of land in 2008 and 2011, respectively.

Hawa, who’s green mandate was a notable component of her mayoral campaign prior to the Nov. 3 municipal election, doesn’t expect any further expansions of the territory in the foreseeable future. “I think Montreal has reached its limit. I’m not sure if there’s one more portion or not that needs to be added, but I’m pretty happy where things stand,” she added.

Up next, the mayor is fulfilling an electoral promise to look into the feasibility of housing development in northern Ste. Anne de Bellevue, re-working the city’s urban plan originally formulated in 2012.

The specific area in question is the Ste. Marie Road sector of the city, which has long been subject to rumours of housing development.

“We need to do an economic impact and traffic study. We need to see how much more the road can take. We can’t enlarge that road. We need to keep in mind that it’s the only way in and out of any potential development,” she said.

The city has hired an advisory firm to conduct an assessment of existing studies, which in turn, will then be used to determine if further environmental studies are needed said Hawa.

We're next, says APAW

Apart of the Rivere-a-L’Orme eco-territory, the ever-contentious Angell Woods is the next logical purchase the city of Montreal has to make, said the Association for the Protection of Angell Woods (APAW).

According to APAW president Stephen Lloyd, “this is a piece of land that is ecologically-connected.”

The association is, however, pleased with Montreal’s latest ‘green’ purchase of land to be added to the Anse-a-L’Orme Nature Park.

“It shows a willingness of the agglomeration council of their commitment to protect the area” said Lloyd, who made note of the city’ funds used to purchase wetlands, woods, and forests come, ultimately, from the taxpayer.

“It should be used to put an end to this,” he added.

Asked whether APAW is optimistic a deal will get done to secure the part of Angell Woods owned by private landowners, roughly 45 percent of the 100 hectare wooded-area, Lloyd said “if there’s a consensus that it doesn’t make sense for anyone to develop this land then it will be easier to acquire.”

Since 2005, the Communauté Metropolitain de Montreal (CMM) has co-ordinated a ‘Green Fund’ program which seeks to acquire green spaces of ecological importance to protect major woodland areas within the metropolitan area.

A 2009 CMM document reveals Angell Woods to be among many areas highlighted for ecological preservation.

According to a source close to the CMM, however, Montreal has yet to actively begin negotiations with the private landowners.

Angell Woods, bounded by highways 20 and 40 in Beaconsfield, is owned in part by private land developers, municipal governments of Montreal and Beaconsfield, and conservation agencies Ducks Unlimited and APAW.

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Organizations: Gestion Cordevco, Association for the Protection of Angell Woods, Communauté Metropolitain de Montreal Green Fund Ducks Unlimited

Geographic location: Montreal, L’Orme Nature Park, Beaconsfield West Island Cap-St-Jacques Nature Park Pierrefonds Northern Ste Marie Road

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