Demonstrators want to halt housing development in wooded area west of Montreal

The chorus of voices is hoping to speak for a species living in a wooded area that is being developed for residential purposes on Ile-Perrot, off the western tip of the Island of Montreal.

Green Party of Quebec leader Alex Tyrrell is part of a group that protested Sunday in front of federal MP Peter Schiefke's office in Vaudreuil-Dorion hoping to stop the first in a series of housing developments in a wooded area called the White Oak Forest where Western Chorus Frog populations live.

It was the second protest against the development in the past two weeks.

Schiefke is the Liberal MP for Vaudreuil-Soulanges which includes Ile-Perrot and is also the parliamentary secretary for Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.

"The federal minister of the environment has the power to issue an executive order to protect the area under the Species at Risk Act," said Tyrell. "That's the case with the Western Chorus Frog. We're calling on the federal government to intervene."

The Environment Canada-partnered, Nature Watch says Western Chorus Frog populations are at risk in Quebec.

"It has declined throughout the St. Lawrence Valley in Quebec as a result of habitat loss," the organization writes.

The municipality unveiled its housing project vision Feb. 4 that it says will develop and improve green spaces and minimize environmental impacts while developing seven sites for housing projects.

The 64th Ave. site is the first of seven and is planned to create 17 residences and impact 1,255 square metres, according to the municipality's PowerPoint presentation.

Notre-Dame-de-L’Ile-Perrot Mayor Danie Deschenes said in a prior email that the land in question is privately owned and the developer has obtained a permit to build on it.

City officials also said that buying the wooded areas would cost Ile-Perrot residents more than $700 per year for three decades, a number that opponents dispute. Those against the development said the community has not been properly consulted.

"It's really the last minute now," said Tyrell. The dynamiting has started in the forest this week. They've already cut down quite a few trees. It's really a last attempt to try and get some federal intervention in this area."

Tyrell pointed out that the development is across the water from Dowker Island, and part of a bigger ecological area.

"The forest goes right up to the water and then the island is right across from the shore, so it is quite a strategic spot they're taking for the environment because you try and avoid the fragmentation of habitats," he said. "It's a valuable forest ecologically." 

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