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Demonstrators mark 150th consecutive weekly protest to save a Montreal Forest

Click to play video: 'Demonstrators mark 150th consecutive weekly protest to save Montreal’s Fairview Forest'
Demonstrators mark 150th consecutive weekly protest to save Montreal’s Fairview Forest
WATCH ABOVE: Demonstrators mark 150th consecutive weekly protest to save Montreal's Fairview Forest – Sep 30, 2023

Concerned citizens and environmentalists who have been fighting to save a Montreal forest from development marked a major milestone today.

It was their 150th consecutive weekly protest in defence of Fairview Forest, and the defenders of the green space adjacent to the Fairview shopping mall in Pointe Claire have no intention of slowing down.

About two dozen nature lovers including Montreal’s Raging Grannies gathered in front of Fairview Forest on Saturday to say the green oasis should be there to stay.

“It’s amazing the steadfastness of those that have been here every single Saturday. I admire them greatly,” said Sheila Laursen of the Montreal Raging Grannies. The troupe wrote a song about protecting the forest.

The 43-acre green space is owned by Cadillac Fairview, the same company that owns the Fairview Mall across the street.

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In 2020, CF presented a plan to turn much of the forest into a sort of “downtown of the West Island.” The weekly protests started soon after.

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The development plan has been on hold since the government implemented a zoning freeze in 2022.

“The forest is our lungs. The forest is the noise barrier. The forest is our life. It helps us breathe,” said Shaheen Ashraf, a Pointe-Claire resident who lives near the forest.

Nobody in attendance had been to all 150 protests. They share the load between them.

“I haven’t come to 150 yet, but pretty close. It’s been wonderful,” said Ashraf.

“I protest as much as I can,” said demonstrator Olivier Kolmel.

The demonstrators want everyone to know they think development should never come back on the table. They say the forest helps cool down the area, absorbs rainwater and snowmelt.

“It’s an amazing, biodiverse area. It has unbelievable flora and fauna inside, insects, mammals, trees,” said Save Fairview Forest spokesperson Genevieve Lussier.

On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, many wore orange shirts. Mohawk community member Tom Deerhouse spoke of the vital link between people and land.

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“Three years of protesting! I think it’s a worthy cause, and that’s why I showed up this morning,” Deerhouse said.

“We need to gain back that relationship with nature,” said Lussier.

The protestors ultimate hope  is that Cadillac Fairview sells the land to the government, who then turns it into a park.

“It’s perfectly situated to be an amazing urban park. People in this area deserve it. The community deserves it, they need it. The island of Montreal as a whole really needs it,” said Lussier.

The protesters say if necessary, they will be convene another 150 times or more to save Fairview Forest.

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