MONTREAL — Commuters driving around the Saint-Jacques escarpment are seeing a very different landscape from what they are used to.
The lush land covered in trees has been bulldozed by the Quebec Transport Ministry.
“This is an ecologically sensitive territory, which is vital to any green field that we may have,” said Lisa Mintz, a member of Sauvons La Falaise, a group trying to save the escarpment.
Back in April, citizens met with the Transport Ministry for a public consultation on work on the Turcot interchange.
At the time, trees were marked with orange ribbons.
“I was told by them that that was a protection measure for the endangered brown snake,” said Mintz.
“And that I didn’t need to worry because no trees were going to be cut.”
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Mintz was surprised to see that months later, the area was bulldozed.
“The public was not consulted about this, so I don’t feel this was in any way fair,” she said.
“I also feel I was misled so that I couldn’t make trouble of this at the time.”
Craig Sauvé, Projet Montréal’s city councillor responsible for the area, said the project is not exactly what citizens in his area were expecting.
“I just find this is another example of the Turcot sort of throwing into complete dismay the entire area,” said Sauvé.
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A retaining wall is being built in place of the trees that used to cover the area.
“Of course, we went through all the environmental process regarding this project,” affirmed Caroline Larose, a spokesperson for Transports Quebec.
Transports Quebec said it never hid the fact trees would be cut.
“When we answered the citizen, we thought she was talking about those markers regarding the fence and not about the trees,” said Larose.
“So, it was just basically a misunderstanding.”
Officials said they are planting new trees in another area of the escarpment, but this doesn’t put Mintz at ease.
She is demanding more accountability from the government.
“They can’t just take, chop a bit of an eco-territory and say ‘oops, we needed this for this or we needed this for that,'” said Mintz.
Mintz said she would like to see a detailed plan of future works spelled out.
She has also set up a Facebook page to encourage others to join the fight to save the Saint-Jacques escarpment to ensure no more trees are cut.