“Tree cutting is prohibited within the forest ecosystems identified on Plan 9”

I’m very happy to announce that bylaw 1095 was finally adopted last night. To be honest, it was a very intense process for the councilors. A lot of back and forth and discussions for several months. We received “a lot” of pressure from some landowners who are looking to develop land in the areas designated in this bylaw. Some of this pressure as Councilor Brian Trainor mentioned last night, was definitely not appreciated and was directed at the wrong people. But in the most part, residents are highly in favor of this initiative and support our goal to protect biodiversity, our drinking water sources and the fight against climate change.

To be clear, I read all comments that was submitted (against and for) during the public consultation process were all considered in this decision and no side received special treatment. We considered the general population and the elected didn’t have special meetings with anyone or gave preferential treatment to special groups unlike some would like to suggest.

It is important to keep in mind that this by-law is related to tree cutting in forest ecosystems which covers the entire territory of Saint-Lazare, it’s not a by-law for building permits to be issued. Some modifications were made for Sandmere and Oakridge to authorize the cutting of trees required to bring a private road up to municipal standards. The 1095 bylaw was not aimed to directly authorize the municipalization of those streets, it’s a tree cutting bylaw. A municipalization project will still needs to be submitted in order to carry forward this project.

As far as some of the comments made by the mayor last night, I find it troubling to hear him talk about saving the forests and asking developers to submit their projects to council in the same sentence. I think this message is not only misplaced for obvious reasons, but also clearly looking to please both developers and the environmentally conscious population. Telling people that bylaws are easy to change and basically implying that this council, or future councils will flip flop on this at any time, is saying that the process is insignificant and therefore the protection of the environment is not assured. Anyone in a leadership position should have clearly taken as strong stand and the message should have been to voice the importance of this initiative.

Another clarification is needed in some of what was said by the mayor regarding the Master Conservation plan. The plan was adopted in 2014 by the previous council. This conservation plan was required as part of criteria 3.1.4 in the PMAD by the CMM which was adopted in 2012. The city of Saint-Lazare had two years to conform and adopt this plan. It was done as a requirement, not because it came from an environmentally conscious council (let me refer back to the developments approved in environmentally sensitive areas between 2013-2017). After this Master Conservation plan was adopted in 2014, it basically was shelved until now. I’m not writing this out of spite for the previous council, but we need to be transparent with our motives. There’s a difference in doing something out of obligation and doing something because we think it’s in the best interest of the population. The mayor keeps insinuating that the steps taken in the past was done out of the environmental initiatives of the previous council, which is not quite factual.

The real fact is this council has been working really hard to implement the conservation plan and change or adopt bylaws in consequences. The bylaw protecting wetlands, the bylaws 1079 and 1095 are a great examples. I think this council deserves the credit for having the courage to take a firm stand and put this as a priority during our mandate.

Having said that, council is confident that the adoption of this bylaw, among the other bylaws adopted over the past three years, is an essential step that is long overdue in order to implement our Conservation Master Plan which aims to protect and conserve wetlands and forests to ensure the sustainability of the ecosystems, maintain the biodiversity of the territory and improve the quality of life of Saint-Lazare citizens.

Master Conservation Plan https://ville.saint-lazare.qc.ca/uploads/bc/e8/bce834e0dc93564bde92ada5a1ddc159/Plan_version-finale-3-.pdf

Bylaw 1079 sur la protection des forêts d’intérieur profondes: https://ville.saint-lazare.qc.ca/doc/reglements/pdf/1079.pdf

Proposed bylaw 1095 https://ville.saint-lazare.qc.ca/doc/projetsdereglements/1095PA2.pdf 

New plan 9 (bylaw 771 article 449.1) La protection des forêts d’intérieur profondes