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Quebec environmentalists claim victory after plug pulled on Technoparc plant development

Click to play video: 'Environmentalists claiming victory after manufacturing plant pulls plug on Technoparc development' Environmentalists claiming victory after manufacturing plant pulls plug on Technoparc development
WATCH: Local environmentalists are celebrating a decision by a company to withdraw plans to build a manufacturing plant on a cherished green space near the airport. Those who want the land protected are now breathing a sigh of relief. But as Phil Carpenter reports, they also caution that the fight may be far from over – Jan 12, 2022

Bird watchers in Quebec who frequent a wooded area that straddles Pointe Claire and Dorval are thrilled.

“We received encouraging news yesterday that Meltech Innovations has withdrawn its plan for building over what we call Monarch field,” said Katherine Collin of Technoparc Oiseaux, one of the groups opposed to any development in the area.

Meltech, a subsidiary of Medicom Group, had announced plans to build a manufacturing plant for N95 mask filters on land near Montreal-Trudeau airport, part of 150 hectares of land owned by the federal government.

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

From day one, nature enthusiasts were dead set against the project.

“We need to protect as much as we can of the natural spaces within our city boundaries,” said David Fletcher of the Green Coalition.

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The space for the factory would’ve been over 15,000 square feet.  Medicom’s decision to cancel the project follows public consultations in the summer of 2021.

“During the consultative process 239 submissions were received at least by the Montreal airport authority,” explained Collin.

Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) has leased that part of the land from the federal government.  Those fighting to prevent development say the space is home to many animal species at risk, including the monarch butterfly.

They believe there are other places for Meltech’s new facility that are less sensitive.

“There are lots of sites on Montreal island, abandoned industrial sites, that are more suitable,” Fletcher argued.

It isn’t clear that it was public outcry that played a part in dissolving the plan.

Read more: Montrealers protest to protect land north of airport from development

In a statement to Global News,  company spokesperson Gayle Padvaiskas wrote, “Meltech Innovation has been evaluating several site options to build our new mask and N95 filter material plant and PPE Innovation Center.

“The decision not to proceed with the AMD site is based on the fact that the site does not meet all of our needs.”

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Conservation groups caution that the cancellation of this plan doesn’t mean other development won’t happen, even by another company.

“We’re delighted with this short-term decision,” Collin pointed out, “but our eyes are on the much longer term and the desire to have this space fully protected, whatever form that protection takes.”

Eric Forest, writing to Global News on behalf of Aéroports de Montréal, did not rule out the possibility of future development on the site.  According to Forest, “it should be noted that each construction project carried out on airport property is subject to a rigorous evaluation process.  As an airport authority, ADM has obligations to respect environmental standards.”

Padvaiskas said Meltech will announce a new site for the PPE plant in the coming weeks.

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