MONTREAL -- The city of Montreal has purchased 140 hectares in Pierrefonds-Roxboro, as it works to establish the largest municipal park in the country, Mayor Valerie Plante announced on Thursday.

The city paid $73 million to buy the land from Grilli Real Estate Group. It is mostly made up of green space and abandoned farmland and until recently was earmarked for residential development.

It was the largest acquisition of natural space since the city passed legislation in 2004 that made it easier for the city to buy land for conservation purposes.

Plante's promised park, the Great Western Park, will extend over 3000 acres, including part of Ile-Bizard, Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Kirkland, Beaconsfield and Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue.

"We are making our vision of making the Montreal territory a vast green space dedicated to the protection and conservation of biodiversity and natural environments a reality," Plante stated in a press release. "In five months, my administration has acquired more natural environments than in the past 15 years. It is a real paradigm shift that we are making for the benefit of future generations."

The city announced the creation of the park in August, and since then, it has rapidly scooped up land to be added to the park, according to a Thursday press release.

Some environmentalists said they were pleased with the purchase of the Pierrefonds land, which would help protect L'Anse-a-l'Orme nature park, they said.

City officials will begin consulting the public on how to develop the Great Western Park in the coming months. Citizens can sign up to be part of the consultation online here.  

A group of developers are suing the city for lost investment in real-estate developments in western Pierrefonds, which the city said will be included in the park. The developers claim the city is expropriating their land. 

With files from Matt Grillo.