Urban forest "worth its weight in gold"

If the city prides itself on maintaining its forestry canopy and greenspaces for residents, then it should not exclude one of its green jewels from its new forestry development plan says Vimont councillor Michel Poissant.

The city acquired all of the Bois du Trait-Carré in spring 2018 for approximately $20 million. The 12-hectare wooded lot is close to recently erected condo towers in the city center and a large retirement home, just north of Collège Montmorency, representing one of the last green spaces in the city core.

Poissant says it’s a perfect opportunity to Laval’s own version of Parc Lafontaine: “This site is worth its weight in gold. This wooded area is unique in its location and would be beneficial to the elderly living in the vicinity, to students of Montmorency, as well as to the Laval campus of the Université de Montréal… Everybody agrees this has to be included,” he told The Suburban, adding “a developing downtown core needs some trees and a proper urban park. It’s not even a debate.”

Last month the city submitted an urban forestry development plan to council without including the Bois du Trait-Carré as part of its Green and Blue environmental planning framework. “The issues of canopy and greening in the center of Laval are real. The plan seems to overlook the importance of reducing heat islands, especially in the heart of urban areas. It’s good to plant trees everywhere, but it’s even better to green up near mineralized spaces and heat islands.” For Laval residents, this green space in between Saint Martin and Souvenir, in addition to serving as a vital urban lung can be a refuge for walkers, families with children, runners, and more says Poissant.

In 2018 the city’s plan to sell about half of the lot to the FTQ Solidarity Fund was quashed at council, the deal a response to a court order for the city to pay for losses after Laval expropriated FTQ land for the Place Bell project. The city bought the land and agreed to compensate the FTQ with the sale. At the time, Poissant said “selling off 56 percent to the real estate subsidiary of the Solidarity Fund is not the solution,” adding “it’s also more than a debate for environmental experts.” He said there was plenty of cash in city coffers and the provincial election campaign could have been an opportunity for political parties to commit financially to the issue.

It’s a future urban park with an exceptional location he says, one that needs development. “When you firmly believe in it, you find the money you need.”

Poissant has launched a petition at change.org calling on the administration to develop this wooded area and seek financial support from Quebec City and Ottawa to do so. “The development must obviously be the result of a citizen consultation and it will be done in co-design with the interested groups.”

For a link to the petition visit https://www.facebook.com/MichelPoissantelu

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