Bourelle ups the ante for Angell Woods protection

Anthony Abbondanza
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Beaconsfield Mayor George Bourelle said he’s optimistic a deal to purchase privately-owned Angell Woods land will be completed “in a few months.”

George Bourelle is trying to accomplish a feat no other Beaconsfield mayor has been able to lay claim to in the town’s history – bringing the decades-long Angell Woods controversy to an end.

And he may very well cement his legacy, telling the Chronicle in an exclusive interview during an afternoon stroll last week of the 100-hectare woods, “we may hear good news in the next few months.”

According to the mayor, Beaconsfield is relying on the city of Montreal to purchase roughly 55 per cent of Angell Woods, owned by private landowners, Yale Ltd. and Seda Holdings.

“My feeling with what’s going on, the efforts being  made, and the discussions and the meetings that have taken place is that I think in the next few months, if I could say, ‘hey we got at least one deal done,’ that would be ideal,” said Bourelle.

Bourelle has been proactive in preserving the woods, passing two resolutions in recent months.

Last Monday, Beaconsfield council passed a resolution asking the Quebec government to adopt legislation aimed at protecting the province’s wetlands, and more specifically the 17.5 hectare portion of Angell Woods that purifies the water feeding into the Riviere a Orme.

In April, the city passed a resolution calling on the Ministry of Environment to protect two forests, deemed of ecological importance, and feature sugar maple groves and red ash plantation, from commercial and residential use.

“Those two resolutions we passed is essentially to make sure the message is loud and clear that we’re there and we’re going to take whatever steps is necessary to save the woods,” said Bourelle.

I realize today that if we don’t do something to help the environment, we’re going to leave a disastrous situation for our children George Bourelle, mayor of Beaconsfield

From running corporations to championing the environment

It wasn’t until Bourelle became a grandfather that he understood the importance of preserving Angell Woods, a natural green space just a few blocks away from his home.

“I realize today that if we don’t do something to help the environment, we’re going to leave a disastrous situation for our children,” he added.

Last Wednesday, the Beaconsfield mayor received some assurances about the future protection of the woods during a meeting with Real Menard, the Montreal Executive Committee member responsible for sustainability, parks, and the environment.

Since 2005, the Montreal Metropolitan Community (MMC) has co-ordinated a Green Fund, which is used to acquire green spaces of ecological importance to protect major woodland areas on the island of Montreal.

The obstacle, however, is the two main private landowners, who claim negotiations with the city of Montreal have yet to begin. Though the numbers haven’t been set, said Bourelle, the “cat and mouse game” is a negotiation.

“Both sides don’t want to necessarily show their hand in poker. I don’t think it’s right to say there’s been no discussion,” said the mayor.

As both sides continue the “cat and mouse” game, Bourelle will continue to lobby both Montreal and the Liberal government to step up, purchase the land, and ultimately, protect Angell Woods in its entirety.

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Organizations: Yale, Seda Holdings, Beaconsfield council Montreal Metropolitan Community Ministry of Environment Montreal Executive Committee member Green Fund

Geographic location: Montreal, Quebec

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