Environmentalists demand halt of Saint Laurent technopark development
Published Wednesday, September 14, 2016 4:29PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 14, 2016 7:32PM EDT
A group of environmentalists is calling on the federal government to halt a development in Saint Laurent's technopark.
The promoter of Technoparc Montreal claims the area is being protected, but the group disagrees, and says the project is threatening one of the last wetlands on the island of Montreal.
Found on the north side of Trudeau airport, the wetland is a haven for dozen of species of birds.
“One hundred and sixty-five species of birds have been seen here this summer. The other day we had a birding event and we saw between us 85 species in two hours. This is one of the richest birding, biodiversity places, in the city,” said Lisa Mintz of Green Coalition.
Heavy equipment moved in recently to develop part of the marshland; a road extension is underway and the promoter hopes to have a tenant by next year.
“If all goes well, they will be installing their offices on the southern-east tip of the eco-campus,” said Technoparc Montreal spokesperson Carl Baillargeon.
The plan is to have clean-tech companies set up in the wetland, merging industry and nature.
“Groupe Hemisphere is a group that's following the construction. They're biologists; they're bird experts - ornithologists, planners. So they're following all the construction we're doing to make sure there's zero impact on the environment,” said Baillargeon.
“All this is just bluster. All this is trying to argue the indefensible,” said environmentalist Daniel Green.
The wetland is home to a few pairs of least bitterns, a species considered to be at risk in the Montreal area.
The project went ahead after a meeting between technopark officials and Environment Canada.
“We're respecting all the laws… (and) regulations that are involved into what we're doing here,” said Baillargeon.
Green said he’s disappointed.
“We thought, honestly, that Environment Canada would act. It has acted in other critical habitats of the least bittern in the province. They're bound to do it by law,” he said.
Last month, environmentalists sent a letter asking Catherine McKenna, the federal environment minister, to intervene.