A group of concerned residents is fighting aspects of a proposal to develop land next to Fairview shopping centre.
They argue that the project in its current form doesn’t do enough to protect the 26-hectare forest which sits just west of the mall, bordered by the Trans-Canada Highway to the south and Brunswick Boulevard to the north on the western edge of Pointe-Claire.
It’s one of the only such green spaces in the municipality, and it’s why resident Geneviève Lussier says she’s trying to save it.
“Everything around here is a heat island,” she told Global News. “There’s an industrial area further east, there’s Fairview that’s a huge acreage of asphalt and concrete.”
It’s the expansion of that acreage that concerns her.
Earlier in the fall, Cadillac-Fairview, the company which owns the mall, made public a proposal to build a 50-hectare development west of the mall.
Jeroen Henrich, vice president of development at Cadillac Fairview, said in October that it’s a “true mixed-use project that will include some residential, hotel, some office, where people can live, work and play.”
It means most of the forest will have to be cleared for the project that has Lussier and other Pointe-Claire and West Island residents upset.
“We keep on biting off each piece of green space as we go westward,” she complained, “and all those green spaces have to be connected somehow for the wildlife.”
Sandra Gajdos, who doesn’t live in Poine-Claire but supports those calling for a change to the proposal, argues that to lose the forest would put wildlife at risk.
“You have a lot of snakes, frogs, salamanders, lots of these animals that depend on this area for their survival,” she said.
Lussier pointed out that residents also benefit from the green space.
“Right now it’s a wind buffer, it’s a sound buffer — like I said, it’s mitigating a heat island effect,” she noted.
City of Pointe-Claire says they will have to approve any plan Cadillac Fairview has and that a part of the forest will have to be preserved. They didn’t say how much.
In an email statement a company spokesperson said they do plan to incorporate the current green space and enhance amenities for residents, and added, “CF is preserving and improving 8 acres of the current marsh lands and forest, creating new park space, adding trails and pedestrian friendly streetscapes.”
Those opposing the project say preserving 8 acres, or 3 hectares, out of the 26 isn’t enough and want development to be limited to the mall parking lot.
“I really hope that they can explain how that makes sense,” said Lussier, “how it’s sustainable to clear cut a forest like that.”
Now she and the others wait to see what plan is submitted to the city for approval.