Green Coalition open letter to
Quebec Environment Minister
A call to create a professional order of biologists and a separate environmental assessment office
March 15, 2023
Mr. Benoit Charette
Minister of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks
675 René-Lévesque Boulevard East
Quebec City, Quebec G1R 5V7
Subject: Open letter to the Minister of the Environment Benoit Charette
The Green Coalition and its more than 80 member groups in the Montreal area have read with interest the key report by journalist Éric-Pierre Champagne of La Presse entitled Des citoyens s’arment d’études. This reporting highlighted cases where environmental groups have defended a natural area to the point of paying for environmental assessments out of their own pockets in order to counter assessments filed by developers seeking to obtain a certificate of authorization from the Ministry of the Environment to build on a wetland, a woodlot or a wasteland.
For many of the Green Coalition member groups, such cases are unfortunately all too familiar, and we would like to add the instructive case of the “Technoparc” sector, an integrated ecosystem the size of Mount Royal Park located north of Pierre Trudeau International Airport. For many years, birdwatchers have publicized the richness of these marshes, woodlands and meadows, to the point where the site has become one of the main birding sites on the island of Montreal. The eBird website counts 215 species of birds, not to mention other wildlife and plant species such as monarch butterflies that are in the area.
In precisely this case of the Technoparc wetlands, in 2013 the observations made on behalf of the developers led the Ministry of the Environment in its official analysis to speak of wetlands of “low ecological value”, which falsely tainted the assessment of one part of these connected environments, which are in fact closely interrelated. In this case, the Green Coalition tried to have its point of view prevail in Superior Court (Green Coalition v. Technoparc Montréal C. S. No. 500-17-095608-165), urgently arguing, as its witness Professor Rodger Titman of McGill University pointed out, that we can no longer afford to lose any of these natural spaces in our fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.
Along with many environmental groups, the Green Coalition believes that the environmental assessments that support the issuance of certificates of authorization must be independent and meet standards recognized by biologists in terms of timing, duration and extent of observations.
Mr. Champagne’s second article, Un ordre professionnel pour contrer les ‘rapports de complaisance’, discusses the need to create a professional order for biologists in order to oversee and regulate the practice of these scientists who are increasingly essential to our survival.
However, there is more: in order to fully play its role, the Ministry of the Environment must have the real means to achieve its own purposes and be able to analyze and evaluate the assessments that are submitted to it. In his book LA CAUTION VERTE – Le désengagement de l’État québécois en environnement, Louis-Gilles Francoeur has amply demonstrated that over the years, the Ministry’s budgets, manpower and expertise have been reduced to a trickle, sadly reflecting the lack of real importance given to this sector within the Quebec government.
The Green Coalition therefore calls on the government to:
- create an order of biologists whose work is essential to provide a true scientific assessment of projects affecting the environment;
- create an environmental assessment office separate from other parts of the Quebec government to analyze the environmental assessments that are submitted to the Ministry.
The Green Coalition believes that these measures will help achieve the Kunming-Montreal targets of 30% land and water protection by 2030 right here in Quebec. We are counting on you, Mr. Minister!
Feature image: Technoparc pond, by Ilana Block
The Green Coalition – representing more than 80 citizens groups dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Environment. Founded in 1988.
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