Official opposition says new by-law needed to protect trees from construction projects
Laval needs a new by-law to protect its trees from damage during major development projects – like the one that saw the creation of new public transit reserved lanes on Avenue des Bois last year, leading to the destruction of nature trails – official opposition leader Michel Trottier argued during the April 13 webcast of Laval’s monthly city council meeting.
Responding to Trottier’s suggestion, Mayor Marc Demers said Laval already has a tree-protection by-law on its books, although “it dates from another era and the sums of money, the penalties are no longer up to our expectations.”
Update needed, Demers said
According to Demers, changing the by-law would require the modification of the City of Laval’s charter, in order to establish new areas of jurisdiction which the city currently doesn’t have. However, he noted the major efforts the city has made to plant and protect trees over the past seven years.
Trottier, who is leader of the Parti Laval party, was responding to questions from several residents, including Jonathan Tremblay and Nathalie Léonard, regarding the controversial tree-cutting operation on Avenue des Bois. It drew a heated reaction from environmentalists and nature conservationists last year.
“Around a year ago, on April 3 2020, the City of Laval was announcing with great enthusiasm the enlargement of Avenue des Bois,” Léonard said in an e-mail submitted for the council’s public question period.
Ave. des Bois nature trails
“What a letdown to realize today that Laval, which is responsible for the work, had only enough environmental or ecological vision to install a massive steel fence between the enormous ditch and the forest trail.”
Addressing opposition councillors Michel Trottier, Michel Poissant, David De Cotis and administration councillor Nicholas Borne, she asked, among other things, how the City of Laval can consider it acceptable to manage the nature trail this way when the city is largely responsible for the area.
“The cutting of trees on Avenue des Bois was something very serious,” replied De Cotis, agreeing that the city bears responsibility for the cutting. “I think that as an elected representative and as a member of Action Laval, we would never approve the cutting of trees without the appropriate environmental authorizations.”
Fines insufficient: De Cotis
While saying that the city probably did its best to follow environmental conservation requirements, De Cotis added that if the company that carried out the work didn’t follow all the rules, they should be held responsible and should be fined or pay damages. De Cotis also said that the $5,000 – $6,000 fine that was imposed by the city “doesn’t match the harm done. We really need to raise the fine for something as serious as this.”
Trottier suggested that a stricter tree-protection by-law would help deal more effectively with situations that have come up not only on Avenue des Bois, but also more recently in Laval’s Val-des-Brises and Champfleury neighbourhoods.
“I sincerely believe that such a by-law would be necessary,” he said. “A mature tree is a valuable resource for a city. The money that we spend to try to save and maintain trees, despite construction taking place around them, is money well spent for many years to come. So, I believe we must do what is necessary.”
‘Don’t dramatize,’ said Borne
Councillor Borne, who represents the district of Laval-Les-Îles and also sits as an associate member on the executive-committee, suggested that emotions have perhaps distorted some of the issues. “I think we shouldn’t overly dramatize the situation,” he said. “Things aren’t as grim in this dossier. Quite the opposite.” He said the work on Avenue des Bois hadn’t yet been completed, although 60 per cent has been done by now.
Demers acknowledged Laval’s current tree protection by-law ‘dates from another era and the sums of money, the penalties are no longer up to our expectations’
Borne said the fence alongside the trail on Avenue des Bois was put there to comply with standards established by the Quebec Ministry of Transport. “Because of the closeness of the ditch, the planners judged that it was necessary to have a fence,” he said. He said future plans involve planting shrubbery next to the fence to conceal it, and that thousands of new trees will be planted to replace the estimated 2,000 or so trees that were cut.
Curé Labelle sidewalks
Also during question period, a Laval resident identified as Mr. Vézina asked Mayor Demers when the city is going to take action to repair the roadway and sidewalks along Curé Labelle Blvd. south of Samson Blvd., “because they are in a lamentable state,” he said.
He also asked Saint-Martin city councillor Aline Dib whether the city will be installing a traffic light at the corner of 100th Ave. and Saint Martin Blvd. Councillor Dib confirmed that a traffic light will be installed at that location, and that sidewalks will be built along Montgolfier St. near Saint-Martin Blvd. Mayor Demers said the sidewalks along Curé Labelle are scheduled to be fixed.