Montreal politicians are calling on Canada to protect one of the city’s last green spaces after environmentalists found that a portion of the area known as Technopark was mowed by Aéroports de Montréal (ADM).
The land is owned by the federal government, but it’s currently being leased by ADM.
“If we want to make sure that we can fight climate change correctly, we need to walk the talk and this is the perfect time to do it,” said Marwah Rizqy, Member of the National Assembly for Saint-Laurent.
Rizqy and Member of Parliament Alexandre Boulerice were prompted to speak after environmentalists who keep track of the green space noticed that a portion of the land had been mowed over the St. Jean-Baptiste holiday weekend.
They say this eliminated thousands of flowers that Monarch butterflies — an endangered species — would feed from in the coming months.
“The only thing they left was trees,” said Benoit Gravel, a member of Technoparc Oiseaux. “Everywhere has been totally razed.”
Gravel also claims the environment for birds who were nesting in the area was destroyed.
“I’ve seen two nests that I was going every weekend to see,” said Gravel. “There’s nothing left there. What happened with these babies?”
Rizqy and Boulerice want Canada’s transport and environment ministers to intervene by changing the lease conditions on the land.
“Mr. Alghabra, Mr. Guilbeault, take your responsibility,” said Boulerice. “There’s federal legislation to protect birds, animals and butterflies and nobody can do it except you. So you have to intervene. If you need to change the lease with Aéroports de Montréal, do it. If you need to create a national park there, a federal park, do it but you cannot say ‘we are for biodiversity’ and do nothing in the island of Montreal.”
The office of federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra told Global News in a statement that the minister has already written directly to the CEO of ADM to express his concerns and request details on the next steps in the file.
“Under the terms of its lease, ADM is independently responsible for airport land use decisions and development. However, the lease entered into with ADM includes environmental protection requirements. In this regard, ADM is required to ensure the protection of the environment on the leased premises and must comply with the environmental laws in force,” the statement read in part.
The ministry added that Minister Alghabra will meet with the ADM soon to discuss the situation.
For its part, ADM told Global News it didn’t “raze” the land but only cut the grass as part of what it calls normal maintenance. They also claim that there are no monarch fields at that particular location.
“The geographic location of the site, its history, and the low presence of milkweed do not have any critical habitat attributes. In fact, there have been no reports of monarch butterflies at this location on the Monarch Mission website in 2022,” a spokesperson for ADM wrote in a statement to Global News.
Gravel says ADM’s response is “a joke”. He says Monarch butterflies haven’t been seen in 2022 because their season takes place later in the year.