Protect Rousseau Forest

amende-foretAn open letter from  Matthew Chapman, president of Coalition Climat Montréal to Yvan Cardinal, Pincourt’s mayor

Dear Mayor Cardinal,

Many residents of the Communauté Métropolitaine de Montréal recognize the value of our few remaining green spaces.

They serve as natural infrastructure to filter water, cool neighbourhoods, mitigate flooding and are host to many species of flora and fauna in a period of ever-increasing threat to biodiversity. They also differentiate suburbs like Pincourt from the concrete jungle of denser urban areas, providing respite for residents from the unrelenting hum of city life.

From a legislative perspective, the Plan métropolitain d’aménagement et de développement (PMAD) set targets for green space protection in line with recommendations of the United Nations and the World Health Organization. A decision to raze the Rousseau Forest would further distance the region from its objective. According to one recent Globe and Mail report, sprawl in the Greater Montréal Area is ‘shocking’ urban planners as our expansion far outpaces other major Canadian cities.

Instead of developing the remaining natural spaces in Pincourt, why not consider their value as natural assets? In collaboration with the Suzuki Foundation, the CMM’s 2016 Summit of Natural Infrastructures produced a trove of locally-relevant knowledge on the matter. Another summit this fall backed by the same organizations promises to further develop local expertise while proposing solutions to brownfield reclamation through phytoremediation.

The cost in terms of greenhouse gas emissions of increasing market supply of low-density single-family dwellings is significant. This study by Vivre en Ville demonstrates the carbon footprint of those living in low-density settings to be significantly higher than that of more dense populations, due in large part to transportation fuel and material goods consumption required by such lifestyles. Another report ‘Croitre sans s’étaler’ provides further alternatives to the type of ecologically irresponsible development that is proposed for the Rousseau Forest.

You have the choice as Mayor to stand up for what you know to be true – confluent ecological crises of biodiversity loss and climate change require an ambitious response – or to allow the status quo to trudge along uninhibited. By standing with the citizens behind ‘Sauvez Rousseau Forest’, you’re sending a clear message that you value citizen engagement and understand your role in preventing biodiversity loss and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I encourage you to explore alternatives that allow Pincourt to grow in an ecologically responsible manner, such as redevelopment of the seas of parking and brownfields that encircle Faubourg de l’Île, which represent an ideal location for transit oriented development given their proximity to the Pincourt-Terrasse-Vaudreuil train station.

I leave you with an image and a question: if the town of Pincourt imposes a $2000 fine for littering in the Rousseau Forest, what value should it place on that forest’s destruction?

Matthew Chapman
President – Coalition Climat Montréal

Protect Rousseau Forest