The Montreal Metropolitan Community gathered on Friday at Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park in Pierrefonds to discuss issues municipalities have been encountering when attempting to protect green spaces.
Municipalities are asking the province for more tools and legislative power to protect their green lands from being expropriated.
They say a land conservation database will help gather information on unprotected land and its market price.
“Let’s build a toolbox where we can share knowledge and help other cities be able to jump in and say OK, I know what the value should be,” said Brossard Mayor Doreen Assaad.
Beaconsfield Mayor George Bourelle has been fighting to remove what remains of Angel Woods park from the hands of developers.
“The municipalities have the right to restrict development and it’s not only a right of theirs, but it’s even a fundamental right for Canadians to be able to do this,” said Bourelle.
Municipalities said they do not have the money or authority to launch legal battles with private owners.
They’re asking the government to modify the law on expropriation, which would calculate the market value instead of the potential value of the property.
“If a promoter wants to construct and build in a zone where it’s allowed — not talking about protected land — they’re going to have to start changing the way they think,” said Assaad.
“Ultimately it’s about what needs to be done to protect our land and make it more resilient to climate change,” said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante. “We want to reach our objectives, which is a common objective.”
Plante took the opportunity to provide an update on the progress on the largest urban park in Canada, the Great Park of the West.
So far 9.8 hectares of green space in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue have been acquired for the park, planned to be 15 times the size of the Mount-Royal.
This, she said, is a step closer to the Montreal Metropolitan Community’s goal of reaching 17 per cent protected green space.
“If we have objectives set in terms of protecting the land, we ask the government, if you agree with those protection objectives, give us the tools so we can make it happen,” said Plante. “If not, then why are we doing this?”
Municipalities hope the necessary amendments will be adopted by Quebec’s national assembly by spring 2020.