Monday, 5 October 2009

Saving Green Space in the Middle of the St. Lawrence: Why Not Expropriate to Add to Park?

Construction of condos next to the provincial park on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence will probably be put off another two years, but the provincial government won’t expropriate the land. That’s what an exchange between a spokesperson for the provincial ministry involved and a coalition of groups worried about the development produced over the weekend.

According to Le Devoir, when the development freeze expires in November, the government will renew it, but will not expropriate the 22 undeveloped hectares which make up part of a lovely archipelago about 15 minutes drive from Montreal. The Parc des Iles-de-Boucherville is full of walking and bicycling trails, places to canoe and kayak and opportunities to observe nature. The undeveloped land lies between the park itself and the main highway access, and was supposed to include up to 2500 dwelling units in a “New Urbanism” design.

When developer Luc Poirier floated the idea in 2007, it seemed to have some good things going for it, and I said as much. But since then I’ve become much more skeptical of claims that you can create communities that work on the fringes of cities. You can talk the talk (concern about the environment, LEED construction, links to transit) but walking the walk is a lot harder. Better to keep environmental gems on the edges of cities public places where we can go to enjoy nature rather than let them be destroyed for private profit.

As for building green, transit links and all that: well, there are brownfields around the city that could be developed much more easily and with less impact.

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