The city is taking unprecedented steps to protect its wetlands of interest and earning kudos for it from the regional environmental council.
Laval is introducing a motion for an interim control by-law (RCI) aimed at the protection and conservation of wetlands while the city updates its regulations.
The bylaw adds additional protection to 1,062 hectares of high-value wetlands, or approximately 67 percent of the area of known wetlands in Laval. All wetlands are governed by the provincial environment ministry’s environment quality act, but Laval is becoming one of the first major Quebec cities to draw up a comprehensive plan to protect its territory.
To protect these environments during the period of consultation which will lead to the adoption of the city’s Regional Wetlands and Water Plan – scheduled for 2022 –, the RCI would prohibit all intervention, construction, work and activities inside and near wetlands of interest in the area identified on the RCI map, subject to certain exceptions. The by-law could be adopted at the July 7 council meeting.
The city aims to preserve the ecological roles and functions of these environments, particularly in the context of adaptation to climate change, including protection against floods or drought, landscape quality, carbon sequestration, cool islands, and biodiversity conservation.
It’s about a new leadership role says Sainte-Rose councillor and chair of the city’s environmental advisory committee, Virginie Dufour. “This ambitious project will enable Laval to raise the area of natural environments protected by the regulations and the property regime on its territory to 12 percent, bringing it closer to its protection objective of 14 percent.”
To define the wetlands to conserve, a matrix of criteria was developed considering ecological value, sustainability, diversity, ecological services, adaptation to climate change, the distribution of wetlands on the territory, and planning. The exhaustive process was carried out in collaboration with the community and experts on the subject.
Work to create the index and the bylaw has mainly been done by city employees, says Dufour.
“However, the Conseil regional de l’environnement de Laval (CREL) received $150,000 to identify and evaluate Laval’s wetlands.” In regards to the cost of buying them, they are included in the city’s natural environments acquisition strategy, she said, for which $11.5 million over three years has already been planned. “The acquisitions of natural environments are prioritized following the land’s ecological value and having a wetland may increase the priority level of the land.”
The regional environment council (CRE) congratulated the city “for its colossal work in identifying wetlands of interest on its territory. CRE Laval is proud to have been able to contribute to this” said director-general Guy Garand. “In addition, the CRE Laval calls on the Ministry to take note of guaranteeing the objective of zero net loss of wetlands not covered by the RCI, considering that the area of the territory available for compensation is very limited.”
For more information on the new regulations, including authorized work and the municipal permit application process, visit: