$data.PageTitle

The City of Montreal wants to create the largest urban park in Canada on the West Island.

The proposed 3,000-hectare "Great West Park" will stretch from St. Anne de Bellevue across Ile Bizard, and be eight times the size of New York City's Central Park and 15 times the size of Mt. Royal.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante propsed the project Thursday and spoke about how the city will come up with the money to purchase the land needed for the park.

"We're not alone," she said. "That's why I'm having conversations with the federal and provincial governments, but it's worth it. This is how we need to change the paradigm."

Developers already have projects on some of the affected areas, but the executive committee of Plante and other burrough mayors will have the right of preemption and can bid first on any property in question.

"It takes a lot of courage because we all rely on the taxes coming from building houses and condos, which, to me, is not the right way to go," said Plante. "There should be other sources of revenue, but right now that's our system. For me, just letting builders build here doesn't make any sense."

Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa said she faced a similar fight to protect green space and won.

"In 2017 Ste-Anne's was faced with a $35 million lawsuit by promoters and developers and today that lawsuit is gone," she said. "That land is now part of the regional park. Things have changed and the courts look at this very differently than they used to."

Plante said the park, which will consolidate five existing parks and green spaces, will be a boon in the fight against climate change. The Green Space Coalition, which has been fighting to protect the environmental integrity of the area since 1980, said the announcement is a victory.

"It means that right now Montreal can place itself among the cities of the world that values biodiversity," said spokesperson David Fletcher. "This will become a model. Internationally people will look at what Montreal has done and try to emulate it."

Unveiling the plan is the first step with many more to come. Public consultations will occur in the coming weeks.