The City of Montreal says it is planning to create the largest urban park in Canada — in the West Island.
Mayor Valérie Plante says when the 3,000-hectare park is finished, it will be eight times larger than New York’s Central Park and 15 times bigger than the Mount Royal Park in downtown Montreal.
She calls the project the most important conservation effort since Mount Royal Park was built 150 years ago.
“We are completely changing the nature and spirit of the West Island,” Plante said. “We are taking decisions with the future of the city and agglomeration in mind.”
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The new Great Western Park, as the city is calling it for now, will incorporate five existing green spaces: l’Anse-a-l’Orme, Bois-de-l’île Bizard, Bois-de-la-Riche, Cap-Saint-Jacques and the Rapides-du-Cheval-Blanc.
The plan is for the park to stretch along Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and Île-Bizard.
Plante said the project is part of her administration’s plan to protect 10 per cent of the city’s green spaces, adding it puts an end to developers’ plans to build over 5,000 homes in the area.
“Citizens mobilized against such a foolish plan, and with our political will, not only did we protect this important wetland and its biodiversity for now, but for generations to come,” Plante said.
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Environmentalists welcomed the news, saying they have fought for decades to conserve the area.
“To Montreal’s credit, it is creating an urban park area that will be the envy of the world,” said David Fletcher, vice-president of the Green Coalition.
“I think that saving green spaces is the best thing we can do for ourselves, our health, our nature, everything,’ said Lisa Mintz, the Green Party candidate for Pierrefonds-Roxboro.
The news was also welcomed by local mayors, who say they are thrilled the land isn’t being developed.
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“We are living through climate change,” said Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue mayor Paola Hawa.
“We have seen flooding for the last three years. We are showing the political will and courage to do what’s right.”
There are many steps remaining to convert the area into an urban park. The city plans to start a consultation process in the fall in order to have a plan in place by 2021.