Show me the money: green activists
Activists of the Green Coalition, a local environmental group, criticized the City of Montreal Wednesday evening during a public meeting at city hall for failing to produce a detailed report that lists how much money was spent on acquiring lands slated for development and protecting them as ecoterritories.
"$29 million has been spent. The monies have been spent," re-assured St. Laurent borough mayor Alan De Sousa, who is also in charge of Montreal's environmental commission.
The commission published a report Wednesday that summarizes its activities for the years 2007 and 2008.
West Island-related acquisitions include a 180-hectare area in West Pierrefonds, west of Rivière à l'Orme, for $675, 000 through a partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada.
Another piece of land in the area recently purchased by Montreal consisted of 87 lots in Ste. Anne de Bellevue for $5.2 million from developer Grilli. "We've been waiting for three long years for this report so we're happy to see it," said Green Coalition member Sylvia Oljemark. "We are surprised, however, that there is no real financial accounting in (it)."
According to De Sousa, each ecoterritory-related transaction is listed individually in city records and available to the public. However, he conceded no list has been compiled by Montreal yet. "It's just a question of compiling the data," he said.
Another concern of the coalition is that while Montreal is attempting to protect six per cent of the green space on its territory, the province of Quebec has moved that target up to 12. "The goalposts have shifted," David Fletcher remarked, before asking the commission if its own objective would change as well. "I'm not going to jump to another target until I do what I set out to do," De Sousa replied, adding it is much more difficult to reach a 12 per cent target in an area with a large urban centre such as Montreal than it is for rural areas.
The report in question also mentions Montreal and Aéroports de Montréal, the federally appointed authority which manages Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport, are teaming up together to try and save a beaver habitat from development. The land is part of the Bertrand Stream Ecoterritory in St. Laurent borough. "So far, the airport has shown willingness to see that portion of this land put up for protection," De Sousa said. However, he added, since the land ultimately belongs to the federal government and is only leased to the ADM, it must ultimately co-operate as well.
The airport's endorsement of the protection project contradicts its stance on the status of Golf Dorval. The municipally-run golf club slightly to the west of the beaver habitat is being developed for "airport expansion purposes" according to ADM officials, much to the chagrin of groups like the Green Coalition, which claims the club is also a green space and a haven to birds such as Canada Geese. "Well, that's because the golf club is not a green space," said De Sousa on the airport's stance. <@Cp>: Chronicle, file photo<@$P>