Dozens of concerned Montreal residents turned out Sunday near the Technoparc in the Saint Laurent borough to alert elected officials to what they say is an urgent matter.
“The desperate need to protect these 215 hectares,” explained Katherine Collin, protest co-organizer.
They want to prevent any kind of development of the space that sits just north of Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport and includes federal and municipal land. It consists of wetlands and, according to Technoparc Oiseaux, the conservation group who organized the protest, home to more than 200 species of birds.
“This is one of the last remaining unfragmented unprotected green spaces that we have on the island of Montreal,” Collin said.
Development is possible for more than 15,000 square metres of that space on a section called monarch field. There are plans to build a facility to make surgical masks. The protesters are calling on federal officials to not allow any development.
The land is owned by the federal government but leased to Aéroports de Montréal. Those wanting to preserve the space say too many politicians have ignored the area, so now they want to make it an election issue.
“We do hope that this will resonate with the population at large during the elections coming up — the municipal and the federal elections both,” Green Coalition Vice-President David Fletcher told Global News.
Former Quebec Environment Minister Clifford Lincoln believes this proposed project is just the thin edge of the wedge.
“If you let this one project go forward then there’ll be others and others and then the ecosystem will disappear,” he said.
He added that he and others have approached different levels of government about the area, but so far there has been no response.
Emmanuella Lambropoulos, the federal Liberal member of parliament for the area, said she has been speaking with the group and that she understands the concerns.
“I know that it is currently being rented by the airport of Montreal so it’s difficult to break a contract,” she said. “So I understand why it’s been taking so long.”
Those at the protest say, however, it is time for the federal government to step up and protect the space.
In an email statement, Aéroports de Montréal said that public consultations have just concluded and no decision has been made about the project.