Two weekends ago, I participated in the Good Friday Migration to save the Technoparc Wetlands. Read more about it – and see the French-language Pimento Report on YouTube (embedded) here.

With this post, I wanted to mention to readers that I’ve got a new pop-up to subscribe to my email list. See a similar box at the bottom of this post for more details.

I’ve been draggin’ my heels on writing this post ever since, for a false reason. I’ve been making it a bigger deal of writing a blog post than in than the writing actually is, because the issue is a bigger deal than most people realize. So I might say something controversial, but seems clear enough for someone to say.

Part of the game of development is “build it and they’ll come.” There’s no big influx (except if it’s downtown – proper brownfield building development!) but in the meantime, the first occupants will pay for servicing the building and the taxes. Though this is just kicking the can down the road, cities sees that new development, that new tax base as proof of … something usually vanity-related, and a revenue base for existing services. In time, because there’s no incentive for municipalities to forego development without a large NIMBY crowd, their services:tax base ratio will get skewed again. Development sure looks like a Ponzi scheme.

This is the view of the park from overhead, from the south.

Situated in this tension, with no voice but for those who speak up in time, is nature, where the birds carry on with their nestlings like they always have, only the conditions are less and less optimal while development games are played to make them unwelcome.

The Technoparc is in this big expanse of former farmer’s fields. Now, it’s large, long, “empty” blocks with office towers and wide streets only occupied during the day. On the way in, there’re signs saying “Develop here,” but there are those signs too, all along the 40, notably on forested or open land, while both new and old buildings owned by the very same companies advertise À Louer (availability to occupy)! Also along those highways and by-ways: faded low-rise buildings that aren’t targeted for redevelopment, when they should be. So what’s the incentive to build here on the wetland?

The Technoparc has a woods that have grown and a wetland ecosystem that has emerged since the land stopped being farmed 20-30 years ago. This is good; this is reverting back to nature. So on an island and region where there’s lots of pressure on green land – everything is being developed as if it were an imperative, when it’s not – this little peri-urban space bounded by the Trudeau Aeroport (airport) to the south and a half-developed office park to the north became what’s known as refugia.

Only, Ville de St. Laurent and all the developers are trying to brand it as an “Eco Campus” (when the most Eco you can be is to leave it alone!). Pro-development people say unfounded things that only non-scientific people will believe (I won’t repeat hearsay, except for one thing about how birds seed the wetlands with fish. No, the fish couldn’t have been there otherwise, a scientific paper that refutes this claim was shared to the Technoparc Facebook group I’ve linked below). But “economic activity is good…”

But now, people are beginning to be aware and prepared to say “hey, uh, I don’t think so.” There’re threatened species there. There’s federal land there. There’s an existing plant-and-wildlife community – which the Ville has bisected and is draining away, but it’s there despite this stratagem. Though it’s an effective one: it’s already having a significant downward effect,  it can ruin the refuge for endangered species and the greater expanse of woods, sooner rather than later.

Last year, because of the drain work, the smaller of the wetlands was dry by the end of May. This is too early, and not just for waterfowl raising young. It’s critical for amphibians, who need vernal pools to reproduce. Amphibian species are increasingly endangered, even critically so through loss of habitat worldwide, and no less so in the region of Montreal. (Read about Quebec’s Atlas of Amphibians here.)

Call to Action

So this post is asking you to do two things, or two things publicly, and one thing privately:

  1. Join the Technoparc Oiseaux Facebook group. Whenever there’s a call to action to write a letter to the politicians listed in support of the wetlands, DO IT. I know how hard that is. I’ve procrastinated on many letters this way. But they do have a positive effect!
  2. If you have a vernal pool on your property – which is a hollow of soggy land, a shallow pond, that comes from snowmelt and persists until June – check it. You’re looking for salamanders and any other living thing. Enter them in iNaturalist. And if the water’s at risk of drying up before mid-June, feed it with water until the life in it has matured, and possibly hopped away.

Technoparc photo gallery

The photos have been captioned, and you may be able to comment on any of them

Now that you’ve read to the end, I have a plan to have a newsletter. Generally, it’ll be once a month. Each email will have a link to the latest blog post, but the point is have content only for subscribers: Q&As from readers, DIY projects, and timely news you can use – all while keeping it short and sweet. So please enter your email! I’m waiting to attain a certain number of subscribers before I begin.