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Green groups worry about impact on ecosystem if mask plant built near Trudeau airport

Click to play video: 'Fighting to save Dorval green space' Fighting to save Dorval green space
WATCH: Environmental groups are scrambling to have their voices hear in connection with a development project near Trudeau airport. Plans are underway for the construction of an industrial building on land green groups say should be protected. Global’s Amanda Jelowicki reports. – Jul 15, 2021

Environmental advocates are concerned the proposed plan for Montreal company Medicom to build a manufacturing plant on land near Trudeau airport could have serious consequences for the biodioversity of the area.

“This is a very rich space in terms of biodiversity. Any incursion or loss of fragmentation of that space is damaging to the whole,” said Katherine Collin, of the environmental group Technoparc Oiseaux. “This is an ecosystem that relies on each other from prairies to wetlands. To have an incursion of any kind for development of that space is quite catastrophic in the long run.”

The federal government owns the 144 hectares of land; Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) rents the land from the federal government.

Montreal company Medicom has proposed building a plant to manufacture filtration units for N95 masks on a 1.5 hectare section of land.

Environmentalists argue the parcel of land is home to many sensitive species, including monarch butterflies. They say any development will upset the biodiversity of the area.

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“The main damage this whole area faces is that it will be fragmented,” said Patrick Barnard of the Green Coalition. “It will be kind of a beginning of a very negative process.”

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

The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada is holding a month-long consultation process on the project.

Some say the process wasn’t transparent enough.

“We received a notification actually from Medicom and not the airport authority,” Collin said. “It was perhaps a little bit curious to receive that information from the developer.”

Barnard added: “The consultation was almost a secret. The green Coalition never found out about it even though we were talking with federal officials.”

ADM told told Global News in a statement an environmental assessment of the area was carried out.

“The conclusions of the report … indicate that no sensitive species or sensitive habitat are present on the envisaged site,” the statement said.  “ADM’s concern for the protection of environments is sincere. We are still going through a public consultation process.”

Environmentalists aren’t satisfied with the ADM studies.

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“We are concerned about that statement. It reflects to us that perhaps the studies are not as exhaustive as they should be,” Collin said.

Advocates are especially worried if this project is allowed, it will lead to others.

‘We know the airport authority wants to develop this whole space. We would see this preliminary gesture in this one parcel is the first step to developing the entirety of it’ so yes we are very concerned,” Collin said.

In a statement to Global News, Medicom reserved comment on the project until the public consultation process is over.

“We are working closely with the ADM to understand potential environmental impact and public concerns,” the statement from Medicom said. “We would be very happy to discuss once the consultation is complete in July and the final site decision is made.”

Public consultations continue until July 24.

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