Nature Canada Responds to Housing Development Project Proposed for Île Charron
On August 15, 2007 Nature Canada sent a letter to the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, the President of Desjardins Group and the Mayor of Longueuil asking for a moratorium on the proposed development of 24 hectares of natural woodland on Île Charron.
Monsieur Claude Gladu,
Dear Madam and Sirs,
Nature Canada is a charitable organization that works to protect nature, its diversity and the processes that sustain it. With the Canadian Nature Network, we bring together 360 nature groups from across Canada. It has come to our attention that Desjardins Sécurité Financière recently sold 24 hectares of natural woodland on Île Charron to a developer that intends to build a residential and commercial complex, including high rises and approximately 2,500 residences. We are concerned that the proposed development compromises the ecological integrity and recreational value of the adjacent Parc National des Îles-de-Boucherville. We urge you to ensure that these 24 hectares of land become part of Parc National des Îles-de-Boucherville.
The area proposed for development is the second largest wooded area in this small Saint Lawrence River archipelago, supporting a diversity of bird species, small mammals, wild plants and flowers, in addition to a population of white-tailed deer. It provides a buffer protecting the already stressed Parc National des Îles-de-Boucherville, which is itself an important oasis for over 190 species of birds, including migratory waterfowl and species at risk, such as the Royal eagle, Bicknell’s thrush, Caspian tern, Peregrine falcon and Harlequin duck. Should this forested area be cut down and developed, the park would see serious ecological degradation from increased air and water pollution, garbage and human disturbance.
As a national organization, we are concerned that the degradation of Parc National des Îles-de-Boucherville would be a huge loss for the residents of the area and its visitors. It is the third most visited park in Quebec, with over 250,000 visitors per year. A growing body of research links our physical, emotional and spiritual health directly to our association with nature. In particular, research has shown that contact with nature improves creativity, curiosity, and self-esteem, and fosters a sense of connectedness to the community and the environment. In Quebec, only 6.2% of land is within a protected area, among the lowest percentages in Canada. Clearly, every opportunity to expand and strengthen protected areas in Quebec should be embraced for the benefit of its present and future residents and visitors.
In the past, the Quebec Government has intervened to prevent the development of this precious woodland on Île Charron. The government should do so again, by immediately declaring a moratorium on its development and moving forward to ensure these lands are added to Parc National des Îles-de-Boucherville. We are encouraged by recent suggestions that the Quebec Government might act to protect this land from development and trust that Movement Desjardins and the city of Longueuil will join to efforts to ensure the Parc National des Îles-de-Boucherville remains a natural, ecological and recreational asset for the benefit of all the residents of the area and its many visitors.