Opposition is growing against plans to develop a large portion of one of the last remaining forests in Pointe-Claire.
A group called “Save Fairview Forest” submitted a petition to the city last week with more than 2,000 signatures.
“It’s got 22 acres of trees that are well over 100 years old. It’s the habitat of the brown snake that only exists in the Greater Montreal area,” said Geneviève Lussier, a Pointe-Claire resident and part of the Save Fairview Forest group.
Lussier says the green space also acts as a sound and wind buffer for people who live around it.
The group wants Pointe-Claire to take action to protect the forest.
They also want the city to change the zoning for the area.
The forest is located just west of Fairview shopping centre.
It’s currently zoned as a multi-use area which allows for residential and commercial use.
The owner of the land, Cadillac Fairview, is planning to expand and turn the area into what they’re billing as the downtown of the West Island.
That includes transforming 50 hectares of land just west of the mall into high-rise housing, office tower and a boutique hotel, among other things.
“We’re hoping that the petitions speak for themselves and that residents don’t want a downtown in Pointe-Claire,” Lussier explained. “If they wanted to live downtown, they would live downtown.”
Fairview Cadillac says it is planning to preserve 10 acres of the forest, which will include walking and bike trails.
But for activists, that’s not enough.
“It’s the last forest in the area. It’s the last heat island mitigator, it’s the last of a lot of things in the area and it has to be saved,” Lussier said.
During council Tuesday afternoon, Mayor John Belvedere said Pointe-Claire has already committed to protect a portion of the forest.
“We confirm the reception of the petition. It will be given to all members of city council for study and discussion later,” the city wrote in a short statement to Global News.
The group says they are disappointed with the answer and will keep on fighting to save the forest in full.