One of the few remaining large greenspaces on the island of Montreal will soon be transformed into a residential neighbourhood, and the city of Beaconsfield says it cannot do anything about it.

The Angell Woods is an 80 hectare stretch of land between Highways 20 and 40, half of which is owned by the city of Beaconsfield, the Quebec government, and the city of Montreal.

The rest has been privately owned since the 1950s.

Conservationists say it is the largest wetland and the only old-growth forest remaining on the island.

But despite efforts to turn preserve the land as is, the city of Beaconsfield says it cannot.

At a public meeting on Monday, mayor David Pollock said that neither the city, nor the neighbouring municipalities, could afford to buy the land from its owner.

"The land has a certain value to it, so unless the owners of that land are prepared to give it as a donation to the city or the agglomeration then we have to come up with the funds to pay for it," said Mayor Pollock.

The land is zoned for residential use, and the city says if it must be developed, it will prefer high density housing that preserves as much forest as possible.

David Fletcher was disappointed to learn the city would not stop development.

"If this goes into housing, it contributes nothing beyond what we already have of social value," said Fletcher.

Sheldon Cave, who lives near the woods, agrees.

"It's a little piece of the country in the middle of Beaconsfield," said Cave.

"I wouldn't want to give this up."

There will be an official public consultation meeting next week, after which the City Council is expected to approve the plan on October 1st.