By Robert Frank
Beaconsfield this week continued its efforts to preserve development property in Angell Woods as green space.
At its May 26 meeting, city council voted to allocate an additional $250,000 toward acquiring the land. The quarter-million dollar increase raised the total Beaconsfield has earmarked, possibly pushing its Angell Woods war chest above the $1 million mark. The city also passed a separate resolution that asked the province to pass a law to protect wetlands.
“This legislation would also impact the initiatives taken to preserve Angell Woods,” the city said in a statement. “Wetlands comprise roughly 17.6 hectares of the Woods.”
That represents some 20 per cent of the woods, Councilor Wade Staddon told The Suburban following the council meeting.
Diana Shahmoon, one of the two main owners of the development land, wants to see the studies upon which Beaconsfield based its appeal to Quebec City. She condemned Beaconsfield council for its persistent lack of transparency.
“Once again, you have not shared the documents that underlie your resolution,” she reproached during the Monday night meeting.
The city claimed that wetlands protection for Angell Woods would improve water quality in Lake of Two Mountains.
Councilor Pierre Demers voted against both Angell Woods motions.
“I campaigned against using Beaconsfield taxpayers’ money to purchase Angell Woods,” he reminded The Suburban after the meeting. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
While Beaconsfield has wholeheartedly embraced green space protection, the current administration has remained silent on another pro-environment policy—transit-oriented development.
The previous administration under former mayor David Pollock had opted to balance both. It produced a plan to save at least 80 per cent of the woods while developing small footprint, environment-friendly housing next to Woodland commuter train station.
In January, The Suburban learned that a prominent Montreal politician had advised Mayor Georges Bourelle to buy bits of boxed-in woodland at bargain prices, as a pretext to justify a lowball bid for the larger tracts of more valuable development land.
“I certainly never discussed it with him,” Bourelle told The Suburban in a Jan. 6 interview. “It’s certainly not on the agenda for the January meeting.”
However, as reported in The Suburban, three weeks later Beaconsfield council did indeed vote to pay $38,600 for eight such properties. Ironically, at the same Jan. 27 meeting, council voted to permit resident Vincent Simonetta keep his lakefront shed on the shore, overriding Councilor Demers’ environmental concerns about the adverse impact of the decision on Lake St. Louis water quality.
A string of additional acquisitions has ensued each month. On Monday night, the city approved payment $3,100 for its latest purchase.
“That’s about 88¢ a square foot,” smiled Mayor Bourelle.
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