More than 1000 people have signed a petition to stop a public beach in Verdun because environmentalists say the beach would disrupt a delicate ecosystem there.

The wetlands in the proposed location near the Douglas Institute are home to birds and other wildlife that petitioners say would be displaced if the borough creates a public beach.
“You're destroying the habitat of many animals just for the sake of having a beach and I think that's a shame,” said Helene Pitre, who created the petition.

Verdun is planning to create more access to the water for Montreal's 375th anniversary in 2017 by creating a public beach near the Natatorium, a pool complex along LaSalle Blvd.

The location doesn't work because there's not enough parking, said Pitre. It's also near a former dump site where coal tar was discovered last year.

Pitre has started a petition, looking to move the potential beach site behind the Verdun Auditorium.

“The businesses are crying there. They need people; they need to have restaurants and everything. The beachgoers will be welcome over there,” said Pitre.

Environmental scientist Christopher Amyot agrees with that proposal.

“The Verdun Auditorium is already heavily travelled by people, there are boats, there's a lot of traffic, it's very accessible, it's already a park where they play. The land has been modified,” said Amyot, adding that the current location planned for the beach will disrupt a sensitive ecosystem.

“It has some of the largest concentrations of migratory water fowl, that you see anywhere around Montreal,” he said.

Verdun Mayor Jean-François Parenteau declined comment on matter, but added that he will address the petition at Tuesday evening's borough council meeting.