Text by Valérie Fortier, spokesperson for the Laurentians region

As I've said before, the Laurentians are wonderful, but they have a complex paradox: people move there to be close to nature, but they destroy nature to get there.

This summer, while the weather was warm and sunny, I was completely chilled by the news: "The Le Quartier - Forestia project, described as the largest real estate project in the province's history, will be established in Boisbriand" (Plourde, 2019). This large-scale project, which will take seven years to complete, will not only destroy the region's almost non-existent flora and fauna, but is also likely to jeopardize the lives of a population already on edge.

My words may be exaggerated, but with good reason. This project involves adding nearly 5,000 family units to the area between Highway 13 and 640. Despite the fine promises of public transit in this area, future families living there will behave in the same way as in the rest of the Laurentians, i.e. with one or even two cars per residence. Rush hour on this stretch of road is more than catastrophic, and keeps getting longer every year. I don't understand the logic of adding more vehicles before even proving that we're capable of providing an adequate collective system. Progress and large-scale economic projects are all very well, but we're hitting a very real wall.

Last June, the leader of the Green Party of Quebec, Alex Tyrrell, and I took part in an event organized by Éco-Corridors Laurentiens. It was called the Rendez-vous conservation Laurentides. This event brought together individuals and organizations who care about the Laurentian environment to discuss ways of improving the fate of this magnificent region.

At this event, we learned that according to recent studies, for reasons of climate change or demographics, animal and plant compositions will be forced to move some 45 km northwards within the next 10 years. In addition, Concordia University professor Jochen Jaeger, who spoke at the event, talked about road ecology. He told us that, in Canada, there are more roads than people. Our road transport is growing faster than that of Europe. As a result, Professor Jaeger is seeing an increase in road mortality among animals, as more roads are being built, reducing the habitat available to animals. His proposal is to reconfigure roads, install longer fences and encourage more public transport.

With all these figures in mind, and as a spokesperson for the Laurentians, I must share my opinion, which is to encourage the Municipalité régionale de comté (MRC) to fund natural areas to compensate and prevent the purchase of land for projects of this kind. Boisbriand - if it's not too late - could take a leaf out of the book of HéPAN, Héritage Plein Air du Nord. HéPAN is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to conserving nature while providing access and enjoyment. The aim is simple: to have as little impact as possible on this fragile but indispensable flora and fauna. On a larger scale, foundations such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program (GCCP) provide financial compensation to help municipalities develop while ensuring the protection of their territories.

Finally, I'd like to come back to the conference I attended with Alex at the Rendez-vous conservation Laurentides, organized by Éco-corridors laurentiens. We had the chance to get to know several organizations whose goal is to protect the flora and fauna of the Laurentians. I'm thinking of HéPAN, mentioned above, the Réseau de milieux naturels protégés, Stéphanie Morin, who came to present her work in the MRC d'Argenteuil on regional wetlands and water plans, the Coalition pour la préservation du Mont-Kaaikop, the Comité régional pour la protection des falaises (CRPF), the Parc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles and many others. There are many organizations out there who, like you, are concerned about the well-being of the Laurentians. I encourage you to look around you for what you can do, whether it's contributing financially, volunteering or expressing your views on what's going on. Let your voice be heard, and together we can make a difference.

Valérie Fortier, spokesperson for the Laurentians region





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