The Mayor of Beaconsfield, one of the wealthiest cities in Canada and a West Island suburb, has announced that a portion of Angell Woods, a large undeveloped tract of old-growth forest between highways 20 and 40, will be developed for residential use.
Angell Woods is one of the last remaining large expanses of ‘Montreal wilderness’ and an important wetland, a key component of the West Island’s broader ecosystem. Half is owned by a public consortium of sorts including the cities of Montreal and Beaconsfield as well as the Province of Quebec, while the remaining is in private hands. Mayor Pollock suggested that existing zoning regulations will stipulate high-density residential construction to preserve as much of the forest as possible, but that buying out the owners was impossible simply because no one is willing to front the coin, so to speak.
I think it’s fairly evident any residential development in this space will have a deleterious effect on the quality of the forest as a whole, severely undermining what such a large concentrated wetland provides to those living around it.
Destroying half of it may wind up killing the other half, and either way I can anticipate Beaconsfield may suffer some unintended consequences by permitting development in Angell Woods (namely seasonal watering bans, lower general groundwater retention, among other potential environmental changes).
She makes a compelling argument. These people have paid taxes and the cost of surveys and environmental studies never reimbursed by either the province or cities, they’ve been denied access to their rightfully owned property and further denied the right to develop it. Imagine yourself in their shoes, jerked around by the public sector and prevented from making the fortune you and your family may have worked tirelessly to secure. I suppose it isn’t easy for most of us to imagine ourselves as property developers or land owners, but these people exist and have a right to conduct their business.
Unfortunately for them, the simple fact is that we were not thinking strategically about environmental issues and ecological conservation back in the 1950s and 1960s, when most of the properties in Angell Woods were secured by their current owners. Today we’re a little more in tune with the realities of environmental degradation, particularly in urban and semi-urban areas, and so a far broader interest must be considered. Inasmuch as it’s wrong that these property owners (and tax payers) be denied the right to conduct their business, it’s worse for the greater number of people to lose these woods. What’s Beaconsfield without it? The question is not how much it’s worth to the city, but what it’s worth to all the people who live in Beaconsfield and benefit from what I hear is an absolutely splendid little forest?
It’s not merely an issue of the public having grown accustomed to walking their dogs on private land they thought was a nature preserve for the last sixty years, it’s that this land is better off – for all of us – if it continues to exist in its natural state.
The quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil we stand on should always be held in higher esteem than any individual’s right to profit.
And yet, unless someone comes up with a lot of cash really quick, Montreal will lose another fundamental component of its natural self.
It’ll be a damn shame if the housing market collapses after the area is clear cut…
The Blue Line’s proposed eastern extension to Anjou (specifically, to an intermodal terminus at the Galleries d’Anjou suburban shopping complex) will undoubtedly alleviate congestion on the Metropolitan Expressway and extend a convenient and efficient mass transit system into a broad medium density residential area. There’s no question about whether the extension is the right way to go, but we need to be vigilant regarding the estimated cost.
The PQ is projecting a $250 to $300 million cost per kilometre and a total extended length of six kilometres (about the distance from University to the Olympic Stadium along Sherbrooke) with five stations. On the outside that’s a $1.8 billion extension to serve a combined population of about 120,000 Montrealers living in the boroughs of Saint-Leonard and Anjou, one hell of an investment in a relatively small number of citizens.
So don’t expect this Blue Line extension any time soon; those making the announcement today were indicating ‘the beginning of the 2020s’ for ‘full operations’.
Christ; I’ll be old by then.
I’ll say it one more time – we built 26 stations between 1962 and 1967 across three lines and it cost just under $1.5 billion (or 213.7 million in 1966 dollars).
Granted I’m obviously not an economist, but I would like to know why the cost of construction has increased so much in the past decade in particular. You’d figure we’d be getting some kind of rebate in Post Charb Commish Quebec, but this is as expensive as ever.
And we’re not exactly reinventing the wheel either – so how the hell did it suddenly become so expensive to build basic mass transit systems in our city?
There’s another issue we should consider when thinking about the Blue Line and any potential future extensions. It has the lowest ridership of all four lines and the trains are shorter by three cars (you’ll notice that the platforms at Blue Line stations have barricades at either end as the stations were designed to operate ‘full’ nine-car trains). I think this is as a consequence of the line not directly connecting with the city centre.
Such a development could lead to increased land values of properties within proximity of the Blue Line, not to mention give the Blue Line’s extension a more practical raison-d’etre. Call me a cynic, but I smell subtle vote-buying.
Don’t get me wrong – expanding eastwards is a good if very costly idea, and I’d like to know why this is taking so long and costing so much.
But if we’re going to extend the Blue Line’s reach, why not also expand its capacity and increase its utility as well?
I have a feeling realizing the original plan would have the effect of increasing ridership on the Blue Line to such an extent that the STM upgrades to nine-car trains on the line, thus giving the line the ability to truly operate at full capacity.
In any event, I should close with a thought.
There was once a time in which elected officials had to deliver on promises made, otherwise they’d lose the public’s confidence and the right to govern.
This is not the case today. The people are so incredibly disengaged and cynical we don’t expect anything from our supposed leaders at all. We carry on despite them. Sometimes they do something good, most of the time they’re an annoyance, occasionally they’re discovered to be outright criminals.
I don’t know what was so different about life in this city back in the 1960s and 1970s that made the people here demand action and quick results for their political support. I don’t know what lit a fire under people’s asses to get shit done. I know many people suggest Expo and Olympics being the sole motivating factors, but surely this can’t be the case. The people wanted action and their will was respected. We elected, and kept electing, a visionary mayor, who paid us back by giving us a truly global city to live, love and play in.
Today we get flashy press conferences that ultimately only promise more study and preparation for some interminable project whose only purpose seems to be to sap whatever confidence the people have in their elected officials.
I suppose my question is why the PQ isn’t coming to us with a plan to actually begin development?
I wish government had the self-respect and restraint to only bother the people with announcements of actual accomplishments.