An industrial project threatens 57 trees in Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve

An industrial project involving the felling of 57 trees in a highly mineralized area of ​​eastern Montreal has raised opposition from some residents who fear the effects of future development on the environment and their quality of life. .

The Canadian company Summit, which owns more than 150 industrial buildings in the country, filed a request to demolish the one-story building located at 7101 Notre-Dame Street East, which it has owned since 2018. .

Over the decades, this building first served as a research center specializing in feminine hygiene products for Johnson & Johnson, employing hundreds of people, before being acquired in 2013 by Energizer. However, this building has been vacant for at least a year.

The Borough’s Demolition Committee, which has the mandate to study and approve requests for the demolition of buildings in Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, will review this project on Tuesday. The specific vocation of the industrial development of the project will be presented to the members of this sponsor’s committee, indicating the Have Maisonneuve–Longue-Pointe District Councilor Alia Hassan-Cournol, who sits on this committee.

However, the project has already received a favorable opinion from the Department of Urban Development and Business Services, citing a document from the borough that details several aspects of this project. He pointed out that the Summit company plans to demolish three existing buildings on the site, which were built in the early 1950s and are considered dilapidated in many respects, to replace them with a one-story industrial building that includes a green roof. surface.

More trucks, fewer trees

Since the buildings currently on this lot have little heritage value, borough officials do not see any objection to their demolition. However, this industrial project involves cutting down 57 trees of various species, including oaks, ash, American elm and silver maple.

These mature trees will be replaced by young trees that will be planted on this land, the advocate assured. However, they will not have the same ecological value as the trees that are at risk of being destroyed by the expansion of the mineralized zone on this site, which will receive many trucks, regrets Anaïs Houde, a resident of the sector mobilized for protection. of green spaces.

“It makes no sense! said Ms. Houde, who opposes “these types of projects that contribute to destroying the canopy and increasing traffic on Notre-Dame Street, which is already saturated”.

Citizen opposition

Ms. Houde was one of fifteen citizens who sent in objections to the project in the last few days in anticipation of the Borough’s Demolition Committee meeting on Tuesday.

“For citizens, it is a constant struggle to preserve the trees we have,” said Isabelle Durand, who lives near this industrial area. Apart from the fear that this project will further reduce the number of trees in this area, the resident fears the increase in “noise nuisance” that this industrial project may cause.

“This is not a green roof that will replace mature trees,” added Mireille Goulet, another neighborhood resident who opposes this development. “Plants are very important. Trees are important. The little we have, we must keep them,” he insisted.

Borough councilor Alia Hassan-Cournol wants to be reassured. “What you have to understand is that we are at the very beginning of the process of demolishing a building,” she underlines. Now that the civil servants have evaluated the validity of the project from a strict regulatory perspective, the elected officials of the borough must consider the concerns of the citizens that will be submitted to them, explained Ms. Hassan-Cournol. “We will judge if we will grant the demolition. »

Heat islands

The Assumption Sud-Longue-Pointe sector, which was the subject of a report by the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM) published in 2019, is considered by some public health experts as “lung noir” from Montreal. Notably included in this sector is the Grande Prairie Industrial Ecopark, where warehouses and parking lots create large heat islands that leave little room for green spaces.

The OCPM report on the development of this sector also emphasized the importance of increasing the planting of this sector, especially by “planting mature trees to counter heat islands” in those public areas and industrial land.

Also west of the Assomption Sud–Longue-Pointe sector is where Ray-Mont Logistiques plans to build an intermodal platform that can store up to 10,000 shipping containers. This project, which has raised strong popular opposition, also received the government’s approval on Friday.

In this context, the borough, which has in vain in recent years prevented the Ray-Mont Logistiques project, ensures that new industrial projects in this sector are closely monitored to limit their environmental impacts. “We can put fairly strict criteria on the project, we can ask for an improved project,” said Ms. Hassan-Cournol, about the development expected by the Summit on Notre-Dame Street.

“We do not prevent companies from coming to develop a sector, but not just in any way, at any price, and not to the detriment of the environment. It should be very clear for companies that develop in Assomption Sud,” insisted the elected representative of Projet Montréal. He also noted that citizens’ concerns about the potential cutting of mature trees on this land, “is a very important point” that the borough will “consider” in its review of the request it’s for demolition. “Obviously we’re going to do everything we can to protect the mature trees. »

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