Former Environment Minister, Green Party of Canada and Green Coalition call on Canada to set an example and be a leader on biodiversity

December 15, 2022 at 9:41 am  Federal, Politics

(Montreal, December 15, 2022) – “It’s slightly hypocritical to host an international conference on biodiversity while refusing to protect the critical and endangered Technopark wetlands that delegates flew over as they landed in Montreal,” said Clifford Lincoln, former Quebec Environment Minister and former Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Environment Minister. “Canada cannot claim to be a leader in biodiversity while refusing to protect this natural treasure, located on land it already owns, and which all conference delegates were able to see from the air just like more than 200 species of birds, some threatened, who nest, eat and rest there.” 

Mr. Lincoln, who was the head of the Canadian delegation to the 1995 COP2 on biodiversity in Jakarta, said: “At that time Canada was a world leader in the protection of biodiversity. Canada was the first industrialized country to sign the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. That’s why the Secretariat of this convention is located in Montreal. But 28 years after COP2, Canada is not even able to conserve 215 hectares of unique habitat on the island of Montreal that it already owns.” 

According to 20 groups and organizations (see list below), the Technopark wetlands, nestled on federal lands north of the Montreal International Airport, constitute some of the most ecologically rich habitats on the island of Montreal” that urgently need to be protected. (See attached map)

Elizabeth May, MP and leader of the Green Party of Canada, joined Mr. Lincoln in supporting the groups’ request and urged the federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault to enact permanent federal protection for these habitats. 

“Minister Guilbeault is missing a great opportunity to reassure anyone who might be concerned about his environmental pedigree after his recent approval of new oil projects off Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Ms. May. “The Minister has the authority to declare these federal wetlands protected under the Canada National Parks Act and ensure they are preserved forever. Why doesn’t he do it?”

More than 35 interveners (conservation groups and municipalities in the Montreal metropolitan community), representing a total of more than 4 million people, are now calling for the protection of the Technopark.

“In the past, Pierre Elliott Trudeau ignored public pleas and expropriated Quebec residents to create a national park on the Gaspé peninsula and an airport north of Montreal. But now that Quebecers are asking for the protection of land already owned by the federal government, located right next to an airport named after him, we are being told that it’s too complicated? Shameful, is what it is,” said Mr. Jonathan Pedneault, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada. 

Under the Canada National Parks Act or the Canada Wildlife Act, Minister Guilbeault has the authority to designate federal lands north of Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport as either a federal urban park or a national wildlife area. 

According to Mr. Lincoln, “Minister Guilbeault needs to listen to his own department which is telling him to act urgently to halt the alarming loss of biodiversity around the world and turn the tide. He can do this by starting to protect and conserve Technopark, one of the last natural jewels on the island of Montreal, as requested by conservation groups such as Technopark Oiseaux, the Green Coalition and the Environmental Legacy Fund.”
 

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Media contacts: 

Charlie MacLeod, President, Coalition Verte-Green Coalition (English, French) – 514 574 9670

Jonathan Pedneault, Deputy Leader, Green Party of Canada, (English, French, Spanish, Norwegian) – 514 266 9723

Daniel Green, President of the Green Party of Canada Quebec Wing, (English, French), 514 245-4676

ANNEX

Groups and individuals who are part of the 20 signatories of the November 22, 2022 open letter to the Honourable Omar Alghabra, P.C., M.P., Minister of Transport; the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, P.C., M.P., Minister of the Environment and Climate Change;  the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P., Prime Minister of Canada; Mr. Massimo Iezzoni, General Manager of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal; and Ms. Valérie Plante, Mayor of the City of Montreal:  

  • Technoparc Oiseaux
  • Coalition of Golf Courses in Transition
  • Green Coalition
  • Society of Biology of Montreal
  • Save the Fairview Forest
  • Regroupement des citoyens de Saraguay
  • Protection des oiseaux du Québec
  • Quebec Birds
  • Sauvons-l’Anse-à-l’Orme
  • Pincourt Vert
  • Mères au front
  • David Roy, Quebec Representative, for Biodiversity Fresco
  • Charlotte Sari Kelen, Environmental Coalition
  • Patricia Clermont, Coordinator, Association québécoise des médecins pour l’environnement (AQME)
  • Susan Hawker, Friends of the Environment Coalition
  • Action Environnement Basse-Laurenti
  • Friends of Meadowbrook Park
  • For Our Children Montreal
  • Union québécoise de réhabilitation des oiseaux de proie (UQROP)
  • Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal (CRE)

A few facts about why the Technopark territory deserves federal protection:

Located immediately north of Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport, its 215 hectares of natural areas and wetlands are among the most ecologically prolific habitats on the island of Montreal. Seventy-two percent (72%) of this land is owned by the federal government (155 ha), thirteen (13%) by the City of Montreal (27 ha) and fifteen (15%) by private developers (33 ha). This site is one of the best places in Quebec for bird watching. 

More than 200 species of birds, including endangered species such as the Least Bittern and Short-eared Owl, are found here. These lands also provide habitat for the Monarch butterfly. The current management of federal lands is the responsibility of Transport Canada. Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) is a tenant on these lands and is seeking to develop the land industrially. ADM razed 20 hectares of milkweed and flowering plants necessary for the survival of the monarch butterfly and wanted to build a sanitary mask factory. Pushback from conservation groups made them back down.  

The data compiled by Technoparc Oiseaux and others demonstrate, irrefutably, the richness of the sector. Platforms such as Monarch Watch, Mission Monarque, iNaturalist and eBird have amassed valuable observation data at the Technopark that has been transmitted to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to assist researchers around the world. Concordia University as well as Environment and Climate Change Canada have contributed to studies on the site.

Concerted actions to protect the Technopark

More than 35 NGOs, including CPAWS Quebec, Birds Canada, Fondation Rivières, Mouvement d’action régional en environnement, Greenpeace, the David Suzuki Foundation, Québec Oiseaux and the Société pour la protection des oiseaux du Québec are calling for the protection of the Technopark. The Office of the Auditor General of Canada has agreed that various federal departments such as the Department of Transport, the Department of the Environment and the Department of Innovation, Science and Industry are accountable to the public for development plans of the site, and has agreed to pass on the NGOs’ concerns to these various departments, through the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. 

A petition calling for the protection of the site was tabled in the House of Commons last October by MP Alexandre Boulerice. Tens of thousands of citizens have demonstrated their desire to see these 215 hectares protected. The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke has also given its support to the protection of the area in two major briefs currently on file with the Canada Impact Assessment Agency.

In addition, 25 municipalities and boroughs of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) voted to protect the site and to request a moratorium on the development of natural areas in this sector. Resolutions passed unanimously by the Agglomeration Council of Montreal, the City of Montreal and the City of Dorval emphasized the urgency of protecting this area for its biodiversity.
 

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