APAW/APBA – Message to our members Oct 2015

Dear APAW members :

You will by now no doubt have already heard the wonderful news. On October 22, 2015, at a press conference held at the Beaconsfield City Hall, the City of Montreal, on behalf of the Agglomeration Council, announced that it had come to terms with the St. Patrick`s Society for the purchase of its Marian Hall Angell Woods property. The $3.5 million dollar purchase price will come from regional greenspace funds specifically set aside for this purpose, and will allow St. Patrick`s to join the list of former private landowners who have made their “graceful exit” from the Woods. No doubt St. Patrick`s will also put the money to good use, in its other charitable endeavours.

This new conservation lot is directly connected to the conservation lots in the south-west part of Angell Woods currently held by the City of Montreal and the City of Beaconsfield. It is a major piece of the Angell Woods puzzle. The wooded area of the St. Patrick`s lot has long been “off the beaten path” for Angell Woods visitors, and contains some of the most interesting biological diversity of the Woods. It is the only place where you can find stands of cottonwood and staghorn sumac, for example. Many of the 14 endangered species located throughout Angell Woods are also located on this lot. At the press conference, Mr. Russell Copeman, the City of Montreal Executive Committee member responsible for the file, announced that the Marian Hall structure on the southern part of the lot will be demolished, and that the entire lot, from its northern limit down to its southern portion facing Elm avenue, will be set aside for conservation purposes.

The transfer of this 20 acres from private ownership to the City of Montreal will bring to just about half (125 acres out of 250 total acres) the portion of Angell Woods owned either by conservation entities (such as APAW or Ducks Unlimited) or governments (the Province, the City of Montreal and the City of Beaconsfield).

However, you will recall from our February message to you that the 2015 schéma, or regional Montreal zoning plan, has designated approximately 80% of Angell Woods as a regional forest to be protected. You can follow this link to the land use plan, showing that all but the bottom 20% of Angell Woods has been designated for conservation use only: http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/PROJ_URBAINS_FR/MEDIA/DOCUMENTS/SCHEMA_06_CHAP3_3.1.PDF

Of the 20% portion of Angell Woods which is NOT regionally zoned for conservation, good chunks of these lands along Elm are now owned, for conservation purposes, by the City of Montreal and the City of Beaconsfield.

The City of Beaconsfield has yet to update its local zoning by-laws, as is required by law, to have them conform with the regional rules. We will be watching this process closely, to make sure that all conservation lands owned by the Cities of Beaconsfield and Montreal are in fact zoned “conservation”. The current elected officials of the Cities of Beaconsfield and now of Montreal have proved to be wonderful conservation partners in this Angell Woods process. We need to consolidate these gains and make sure that no door is left open for future “development land swaps”, once the current elected regimes change.

Hats off to you again, members. Our governments are “doing the right thing” with our money, thanks to decades of respectful but firm lobbying by citizens on the ground. We need to offer them our thanks. This process is going on in municipalities across the Province, but it is clearly “against the grain” for some people. These last steps to solidifying the protection of Angell Woods may in fact be the hardest, but we are almost 90% there. Keep close to the process and stay tuned!

Your APAW Executive

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