R.E.M. project: Environmentalists not giving up fight to protect wetlands
It’s something West-Islanders have been waiting for: a public transit link between the West Island and downtown.
Prep work has begun for the construction of the Technoparc station near the airport – but some people are still trying to stop it.
In order to build the train line and stations, 20 hectares of trees and shrubs will be cut down in an area that, according to environmentalists, is home to the largest heron nesting colony of the island.
“It also plays home to 30 other species of birds, and then there’s other stuff in there that we haven’t even identified as of yet,” explained environmentalist Lisa Mintz.
Officials said 250,000 trees will be planted to make up for those being cut down.
Their goal is to have the Technoparc area protected by the Federal Critical Habitat Act in order to stop construction.
“Just over there, the endangered least bittern is nesting, and we have proof that it has been nesting, u there for three years,” Mintz said. “That would make this area – which is within the 500 metres around it range that would make this critical habitat.”
But so far, all 67 km of the light rail project will go ahead – with all 26 stations expected to be operating by 2023.
A group of environmentalists have been against it from the start, citing a number of concerns – including the destruction of the wetlands.
But officials overseeing the R.E.M. construction insist the construction won’t touch them.
“We received a governmental decree from the Government of Quebec to do the work, and it was really precise that we have to do work that has no impact on the wetlands – between Alexander Flemming and the airport,” explained spokesperson Jean-Vincent Lacroix.
For the Technopark, where more and more people work, the train will be a game changer. But environmental groups will be watching closely as construction begins.
They maintain hope that the space will be re-invented as an urban national park.