Befriending the Monarch

While Laval attracts people from all corners of the region, province and globe, it is also home for another type of guest and Sainte Rose councillor Virginie Dufour wants the city to join 54 other Quebec jurisdictions in welcoming them. From Rosemère to Rosemont, and from Sherbrooke to Terrebonne, cities across Quebec have declared themselves be Monarch Butterfly-friendly by adopting measures to support the survival and recovery of this crucial pollinator.

“Two months ago, a citizen came to city hall asking why Laval was not yet a ‘Monarch-friendly city” Dufour, chair of Laval’s environmental consultative committee, told The Suburban. “A few days later, my daughter came back from school talking about monarchs! With her school, she participated in a mission called the Monarch project: They went to Berge des Baigneurs and looked for monarch eggs, counted them and identified the location of their favorite plant¬–asclepiad (milkweed).” That’s when Dufour penned her proposal — supported by Renaud councillor Aram Elagoz —to make Laval Monarch-friendly.

The Monarch (danaus plexippus) is an emblematic yet endangered North American species whose migration and fascinating life cycle strikes the imagination of millions. Its population has dropped by 90 percent over the past two decades due to degradation and loss of breeding habitats. Municipalities can play a crucial role in the recovery of the species. These pollinators contribute to agriculture and biodiversity, responsible for pollination of nearly 70 percent of crops, while pollinators globally are at risk with “a current extinction rate of 100 to 1,000 times more than normal,” according to the United Nations.

The David Suzuki Foundation established four certification levels with a total of 24 measures proposed from “Friend” (three measures) to Gold (24). Dufour wants four measures implemented: Publish a statement at council; create a demonstration garden at City Hall or a symbolic public place; Remove milkweed from the list of pests in the city’s landscaping regulations; and change regulations for weeds and/or lawn-mowing to allow native plants to grow on private land.

Dufour’s motion will come to council next month while the city’s environment department will begin the process of registering Laval for the “City of Monarchs” certification.

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