Saint-Jacques Escarpment: green space or toxic dump?

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WATCH ABOVE: Residents and environmentalists are concerned about the health of the Saint-Jacques escarpment between NDG and Highway 20. Global's Kelly Greig reports – Feb 5, 2016

MONTREAL – On the Saint-Jacques Escarpment, it seems there’s more than meets the eye.

The wooded area between Notre-Dame-de-Grace and Highway 20 is fenced in, but many risk trespassing to enjoy its natural beauty.

“They didn’t know what was there,” said Lisa Mintz who started a group to protect the land.

She said people don’t realize the amount of wildlife in the area, including 65 species of birds.

She worried it’s being endangered by the nearby Turcot Interchange project.

There’s the obvious pollution, like garbage, but many are concerned with what lies a little deeper, just below the surface.

“There are tires and pieces of asphalts and other toxic things in there,” Mintz told Global News.

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“If water goes through the toxic consituents through the water source and then the trees are sucking it up, it’s positing the entire ecosystem.”

Since 2009, around one million cubic meters of soil has been trucked in from other sites to help build the new Interchange.

Environment Quebec apparently allowed earth that is slightly contaminated to be used on the project.

Local politicians are now asking to see what the damage could be.

“We asked our directors if we can put in a word with the MTQ and get some information from them,” said Projet Montreal’s Craig Sauvé.

“They’ve been less than forthright. I’m not sure if they’re hiding anything or just refusing to do tests, but there are a group of citizens who want to know if there are contaminants in the soil.”

While there are plans to eventually open the escarpment as a green space, NDG councillor Peter McQueen sees it as an opportunity to put a little more infrastructure in place.

“What people really want is the north-south bike path that takes cyclists from NDG down the cliff, they’d get near Cavendish and Saint-Jacques,” he said.

With plans for a bike path along the southern portion of the cliff already in place, many are hoping the green space lives up to it’s name.


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