An urgent plea to save
a precious ecosystem

We must act now to conserve Montreal’s 215-hectare wetland ecosystem

July 25, 2022

Green Coalition wishes to commend and support the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for putting the Monarch Butterfly on the list of Endangered Species, as the organization indicated in its July 21, 2022 communiqué:

“The migratory monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus), known for its spectacular annual journey of up to 4,000 kilometres across the Americas, has entered the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Endangered, threatened by habitat destruction and climate change.”

The Director General of the IUCN, Dr. Bruno Oberle, made a comment important for Montreal, Quebec and the Federal Government of Canada: “Today’s Red List update highlights the fragility of nature’s wonders, such as the unique spectacle of monarch butterflies migrating across thousands of kilometres.” And he pointedly added: “To preserve the rich diversity of nature we need effective, fairly governed protected and conserved areas, alongside decisive action to tackle climate change and restore ecosystems.”

Just north of Montreal’s Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau International Airport is a unique 215-hectare wetland ecosystem of marshes, fields, and forest where the Monarch butterfly comes to feed and reproduce. But in June 2022, the Montreal airport authority – Les Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) – razed the Monarch Butterfly fields in this ecosystem, destroying 4,000 milkweed plants essential for the reproduction of the species and destroying many other flowering plants the butterfly needs to survive. The conduct of the ADM, and of Transport Canada, is now being scrutinized by both Environment Canada and the federal office of the Auditor General.

Transport Canada owns 155 hectares of the 215-hectare endangered wetland ecosystem — public lands that are held in trust by the Government of Canada on behalf of all Canadians. These lands have been leased to ADM. The Transport Minister of Canada, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, and the Canadian Environment Minister, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, have both been repeatedly urged to use the property rights of Canada, and of the Canadian people, to truly make this wetland ecosystem one of Canada’s “effective, fairly governed protected and conserved areas.” The City of Montreal has already expressed its intention to protect the wetlands of the ecosystem within its jurisdiction.

Ministers Alghabra and Guilbeault have not done so. Now they must act to protect and conserve Montreal’s last large, marshland and riverine ecosystem – 215 hectares of irreplaceable wildlife habitats – the size of Mount Royal Park. They must act now especially since Montreal is a “Monarch Gold” city and because the Metropolis will host the COP 15 talks of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which will be held here in December. If Canada and Quebec and Montreal fail to protect this ecosystem, delegates from all around the world will see that failure for themselves. But if we succeed, that achievement will be proudly visible.

Ministers Alghabra and Guilbeault – act now to protect and conserve the 215-hectare wetland ecosystem north of Montreal’s airport. For the sake of Canada, Québec and Montreal – act now!

For more information:

David Fletcher: • 438 526-7684

Patrick Barnard: • 514 463-0573

Feature image: James Wheeler from Pexels

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  1. Irwin Rapoport

    As noted, the federal government can intervene immediately to save the Monarch Fields, about 20 hectares, and all of the 155 hectares located on the ADM lands that are part of the Technoparc wetlands and wilderness area. It chooses not to and that is a tragedy. This dithering and inaction goes back many years and when Westmount-NDG MP Marc Garneau was the minister of transport, he was fully informed about the situation and was silent. many direct pleas were made to him, including Canada Day celebrations in Montreal West. I and the late Don Hobus made it crystal clear what was at stake.

    The federal government can easily create an urban national park for the Technoparc wilderness area , but for whatever reason, prefers inaction and development. Environment Minister Steven Gilbeault is also fully briefed on the area and its rich and precious biodiversity, but chooses to say silent. It’s clear that Guilbeault should no longer be considered as an environmentalist as his department has not intervened to stop the NDG government in British Columbia cutting down the last vestiges of its old growth forest and is approving oil and gas projects across the country, most recently off-shore oil drilling in Newfoundland waters. It’s a sad story and damage is being done daily as we have witnessed with the ADM mowing down 4,000 plus milkweed plants at the Monarch Fields as the endangered butterflies had just returned and began to lay eggs on the plants. The mowing, which was deliberately done, has wiped out a critical generation of Monarchs that goes back thousands of years in terms of lineage.

    Thus far the federal government refuses to intervene, but we can fight back. If the federal government can create the Rouge River National Park in the Greater Toronto Area, it can create Technoparc Wilderness and Wildlife Refuge in Dorval and Saint Laurent. We must insist that the national park/wildlife refuge be established ASAP. The Trudeau government believes it can ignore pleas to protect the area and still count on electoral support. That attitude must change and we the public must not only express our outrage, but demonstrate that we shall leave no unturned to save this ecological gem.

  2. Lilli-Anne McGaw

    I cannot imagine Mr. Trudeau being unwilling to intervene.. if that is so then I have truly misunderstood the interests of Mr. Trudeau

    • Irwin Rapoport

      So far Justin Trudeau is pushing for the all-out development of the oil and gas sector to pay for the transition to a green economy. This means maximizing the tar sands operations and supporting pipeline construction for oil and gas operations, Nor has Justin reduced or stopping rapacious logging operations, and his government continues to approve mining projects that destroy wilderness and biodiversity. So far it appears that Justin wants to outdo the Harper Conservatives in terms of environmental destruction

  3. Anne Streeter

    All it would take is a word from Justin Trudeau and the all powerful PMO! Clearly nothing is done without their approval! Something mysterious is going on as this seems like such an easy win for all the right reasons. For the ADM to secretly mow down the milkweed plants at a crucial time for the butterflies seems beyond strange. For key people not to respond to the many pleas also seems strange. It is beyond time for some honest answers!

    • Irwin Rapoport

      Justin Trudeau and his ministers are aware of the situation at the Technoparc wetlands and wilderness area. They choose not to act or even intervene at a minimal level. The ADM wants to show that the Monarch Fields are not ecologically important areas. They denied that there were any Monarchs on-site when they mowed the 20 hectares.If they can demonstrate that there are no Monarchs, all the easier to develop the area and they want to desperately develop it. I’m not sure ho we can get answers from the federal government. It will require a ton of public pressure , and even then, I suspect the answers shall be evasive at best.

  4. Irwin Rapoport

    This is the public response that the Aeroports de Montreal released following the outcry of the mowing operation at the Monarch Fields, which took down 4,000 mature milkweed plants that had Monarch eggs laid on them.

    The ADM response:

    Il y a deux semaines, l’équipe d’entretien d’ADM a procédé à la tonte du gazon sur une section du site aéroportuaire, notamment en raison de la présence d’herbe à poux et d’herbes longues, qui constituent des nuisances. Nos équipes n’ont certainement pas « rasé » le terrain, tel qu’allégué par certains groupes, mais ont procédé à une coupe comme il est standard de le faire dans le cadre des opérations normales d’entretien du site aéroportuaire.

    Maintenant, nous tenons à rétablir certains faits.

    Tout d’abord, il n’y a pas de « champs de monarques » à cet endroit précis. La situation géographique du site, son historique et la faible présence d’asclépiade ne revêtent aucun attribut d’habitat essentiel. D’ailleurs, aucun signalement de monarque n’a été fait à cet endroit sur le site de Mission monarque en 2022.

    Le terrain en question est une terre en friche, zonée industrielle, où était situé jadis un golf. Il est aussi faux de prétendre que l’opération de tonte de gazon a été réalisée dans un milieu humide. Aucune espèce sensible, habitat sensible ou zone protégée n’est présent dans ce secteur.

    Tel que vous le savez, ADM a, en 2019, pris l’engagement de préserver et de protéger les terrains à haute valeur écologique et avons créé le parc écologique des Sources. Inauguré en avril 2021, le parc écologique des Sources à YUL permet à tous les Montréalais de bénéficier d’un parc écologique couvrant près de 2 millions de pieds carrés, au nord du site aéroportuaire de YUL, et qui représente un lieu unique pour l’observation des oiseaux et de la faune. Il s’agit d’un milieu à valeur écologique élevée, qu’ADM s’est engagée à protéger et à mettre en valeur au bénéfice de la communauté.

    ADM Aéroports de Montréal est la seule autorité aéroportuaire au Canada à avoir créé un parc écologique afin de mieux pouvoir préserver ses milieux.

    Mentionnons également qu’ADM a créé des espaces dédiés aux papillons monarques dans le parc écologique des Sources en novembre 2021, en collaboration avec Miel Montréal. Une sélection de graines indigènes a également été ajoutée à 10% de ces secteurs. Il s’agit d’un mélange de graines indigènes à 100 %, spécialement conçu pour les zones humides. Une prochaine plantation est prévue lorsque les conditions seront favorables.

    Concernant le développement des terrains situés au nord de l’aéroport, c’est avec une vision de durabilité qu’ADM Aéroports de Montréal aborde le développement de ses terrains autour du site aéroportuaire. Conformément au mandat que Transports Canada nous a confié, si ADM décidait de procéder, cela serait fait en collaboration avec un partenaire pour qui la contribution au développement économique vaut tout autant que la cohabitation harmonieuse avec le milieu.

    Tout projet de construction réalisé sur les terrains du site aéroportuaire est notamment sujet à la réalisation d’une évaluation des effets environnementaux, conformément à la législation en vigueur.

    Merci beaucoup,

    Eric Forest, PRP

    Conseiller, Communications corporatives

  5. Murray Levine

    Aeroports de Montréal, Ministry of the Environment and Environment Quebec appear to be totally unconcerned not only with Monarchs but with humans!

    I look forward to suing a bunch of airlines for the cost of everything associated with my recent move from Dorval. It would likely be too difficult for me to sue Aeroports de Montréal in small claims court so I may as well sue the airlines.

    Sante Public Montreal is now looking into my suggestion that they encourage every homeowner and renter in Dorval to purchase the appropriate air purifiers/filters to avoid cancer and cardiovascular disease plus, plus.

    There was a very good reason for me to tell my ex-mayor to “Drop dead!” at the June city council meeting. When such a person agrees to do something intelligent and then doesn’t do it…….

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