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‘It’s a big mistake:’ Montrealers get their say on l’Anse-à-l’Orme development

Click to play video 'Residents, developer discuss Pierrefonds West project' Residents, developer discuss Pierrefonds West project
WATCH ABOVE: Pierrefonds-Roxboro residents attend public consultations on a development project surrounding the preservation of L'Anse-à-l'Orme Nature Park. Global's Gloria Henriquez reports – Apr 4, 2017

Dozens of Montrealers got their say Tuesday on the proposal to develop the green space around l’Anse-à-l’Orme Nature Park in Pierrefonds-Roxboro.

“Just to put it out there, in my opinion, it’s a big mistake,” said Mme. Hilaire, a Pierrefonds resident.

About sixty people attended public consultation on the controversial project.

It was organized by the Office de Consultations Publiques de Montréal (OCPM).

READ MORE: Public consultations start for controversial l’Anse-à-l’Orme development in Pierrefonds

During the meeting, the City of Montreal and the Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough explained their vision and gave an update on what has been done so far.

The project has been in the works since 2005; 365 hectares of green space would be reserved for 5,500 housing units, including affordable housing.

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About 180 hectares of green space would be preserved.

READ MORE: Environmentalists warn l’Anse-à-l’Orme eco territory threatened by light rail project

“What we’re saying is we can have development and we can also have conservation at the same time,” said the project’s spokesperson, David Cliche, the former environment minister under Lucien Bouchard’s government.

“Housing that answers existing needs, very close to a beautiful conservation park in an urban environment.”

“You will get easy access to a new boulevard, to the new train station,” Cliche added, referencing the REM light rail project.

WATCH BELOW: L’Anse-à-l’Orme public consultations

Click to play video 'L’Anse-à-l’Orme public consultations' L’Anse-à-l’Orme public consultations
L’Anse-à-l’Orme public consultations – Mar 13, 2017

It’s a selling point for those who live around the area.

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“If the project goes on and they finally open a boulevard on both sides of the highway, it will be my pleasure to go back and buy a new home in that area,” Pierrefonds resident Henri Primo said.

Primo owned a house around the green space, but sold it because of traffic issues.

READ MORE: Hundreds protest at Montreal City Hall to save Pierrefonds green space

Nevertheless, some environmentalists believe the project’s costs far outweigh the benefits.

“We’re far below the international standards,” said Don Hobus, who is part of Sauvons l’Anse-à-l’Orme, a group rallying to save the green space.

“The whole island is becoming a heat island. The prediction is that in not too many years, the average temperature throughout the summer will be 41 degrees.” ​

“I’m concerned from a tax payers’ point of view that this would be a tax-negative tax project,” said resident Martha Bond.

WATCH: Environmental group releases l’Anse-à-l’Orme Study

Critics have pointed out that new infrastructure, such as sewers and roads, would have to be built and that could be very expensive for the city.

The consultations will continue April 9, when hearings will take place.

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People are encouraged to share their concerns with the OCPM, who will then give the recommendations to the City of Montreal and the Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough in July.