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Concerns grow over proposed mask factory in Dorval green space

Green space near proposed site of Medicom plant to manufacture filters of N95 and other respiratory masks. Tim Sargeant/Global News

Concerns are growing over a potential development in a green space in Dorval, northwest of Trudeau airport.

The NDP is urging the federal government to find a different site for a proposed surgical mask-making factory that would be built on the site because they say this green space needs to be protected.

The majority of the land is owned by the federal government, which leases it to Aéroports de Montréal (ADM).

The NDP, along with nature conservancy advocates, believe building a factory there is a big mistake.

“We are really worried it might be a danger that Medicom will create a facility in those really big wetlands that are a really important part of our ecosystem in the west of Montreal, that would completely destroy a huge part of this area to create only 20 jobs,” said Alexandre Boulerice, the NDP’s member of parliament for Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie.

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Read more: Conservation group raises concerns over proposed mask-making plant in Dorval green space

Advocates say the land is home to multiple species such as the short-eared owl and monarch butterflies, and that destroying the space will further endanger these species.

The Impact assessment agency of Canada has approved the project, an application made by a Medicom subsidiary, True North Innovative Non-Woven Materials Inc.

On a goverment website it says “no wetlands, waterways, sensitive species or habitats or protected zones are present on the site.”

But advocates believe that the whole process is flawed and they’re demanding more transparency from both the federal government and the company.

“This assessment process is flawed because a second consultation application for the same project, this time filed by another Medicom subsidiary, Meltech Innovation, is currently in process and will end on July 24,” wrote the NDP in a press release.

Boulerice believes the assessment process was not done in a rigorous manner.

“The studies, the evaluation were made in some periods of the time of the year when maybe some species are not there, the butterflies are not there and the conclusions are not adequate from our own perspective,” Boulerice told Global News.

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Katherine Collin, a nature conservancy advocate with Technoparc Ouiseaux says that the group has asked Medicom for a copy of the environmental studies that were conducted but says they haven’t heard back.

“Our hope is that we can get adequate information to encourage the environmental, the impact assessment registry agency to reconsider that authorization to perhaps have been incomplete,” Collin said.

“We know it’s an uphill battle but the stakes are huge for us because if we allow this, if we accept this development to go forward, it means the entirety of the 155 hectares that are under federal control are also at risk of development.”

Click to play video: 'Conservation groups concerned about proposed PPE-making plant in Dorval' Conservation groups concerned about proposed PPE-making plant in Dorval
Conservation groups concerned about proposed PPE-making plant in Dorval – Jun 29, 2021

Collin says it is urgent to act, as construction of the proposed factory could begin as early as Aug. 15.

On its website, the federal government says Aéroports de Montréal will explore whether the project will cause irreversible environmental damage with the help of public consultations.

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Aéroports de Montréal told Global News that it is in talks “with a company that is looking to build on a contaminated land located on the airport site.”

A spokesperson for ADM wrote that there is no wetland on the land, an area of 1.5 hectares on the edge of Dorval’s industrial sector.

“It is indeed the second consultation being carried out on the project. We had to open a new consultation because Industry Canada now has a financial participation in the project and it was one of the requirements,” wrote ADM spokesperson Anne-Sophie Hamel.

“ADM’s concern for the protection of environments of high ecological value is sincere.”

Meanwhile, Medicom told Global News “it is premature for Medicom to comment while there is a public consultation ongoing as the site selection is not finalized.”

Read more: Construction imminent to turn Dorval golf course into airport security checkpoint

In an email to Global News, Medicom’s VP of marketing, Gayle Padvaiskas, wrote the company is working closely with the ADM to understand potential environmental impact and public concerns.

“Medicom would like to reassure the public that it is committed to working with environmental analysis experts to conduct all necessary assessments and to implement all required precautions and mitigation measures to protect the environment and biodiversity, regardless of the site selected,” Padvaiskas wrote.

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“We, along with the ADM, have contracted independent environmental assessments and will be sharing once the consultations are completed. We have been in contact with the environmental group mentioned and will share the studies with them at that time.”

The Aéroports de Montréal is inviting the public to participate in public consultations that are being held until July 24th.

Technoparc Oiseaux also encourages the population to participate and for anyone who has documented wildlife in the area to submit it.

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