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West Island condo project threatens urban forest where species at risk live: study

Environmentalist groups that want to save Pointe-Claire's Fairview Forest from development say they have new proof of its importance.

A new ecological study was commissioned, and it reveals 35 "at risk" species within the greenspace on Montreal's West Island.

The groups gathered outside Quebec Environment Minister Benoit Charrette's office to deliver the news.

"We inventoried over 200 species, and 35 of those are species at risk. That's pretty incredible in a small forest," said biologist Isabelle-Anne Bisson of TerraHumana Solutions, who is the lead on the report. "It's a mature forest with three wetlands and trees that are 100 years old."

The study was commissioned by the Legacy Fund for the Environment headed by lawyer and former Montreal West mayor Campbell Stewart.

He said this new information should put a stop to the development deal.

"The certificate of authorization which was issued to Cadillac-Fairview to destroy the forest was issued on the basis of false information," said Stewart.

He added that Cadillac-Fairview's own report on the diversity at the Fairview Forest site was incomplete.

Pointe-Claire Mayor Tim Thomas says the forest needs to be protected, and other levels of government have to get involved.

"We're in an ecological crisis, [and] here we have an urban forest in the middle of a heat island with developments going up all around it, it's a no-brainer to keep a greenspace there," said Thomas. "Why is there even any debate?"

Genevieve Lussier from the "Save Fairview Forest" group said the green space has already been reduced.

"It's about 43 acres, and the REM has eaten up eight acres of the forest, unfortunately, so it would be great if they actually purchased some forest as compensation for what they destroyed. That's about 22 hectares," she said.

The groups are calling on Charrette to revoke the certificate of authorization for Cadillac-Fairview's development plans.

The ministry said it will analyze the report and look at any potential environmental impacts for subsequent phases of the project.

"Protecting biodiversity, particularly threatened and vulnerable species, is a must and development projects in 2023 must take this into account," said ministry spokesperson Melina Jalbert.

"People have been using the forest for 100 years, and it is a precious resource," said Stewart. "Once it's paved over, once you got condos, once you've got a commercial complex, it's gone." Top Stories

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