MONTREAL- A Nuns’ Island conservation group has launched a petition to force city hall to hold a public consultation on development around the Lachine Rapids.
The Nun’s Island Heritage Committee is the first citizens group to take advantage of a new program allowing Montrealers to initiate public consultations under the Rights of Initiative, created in January by the Office de consultations publique de Montreal.
The historical rapids require protection as they are particularly fragile between Champlain and Mercier bridges, explained Nina Blussé of the Nun’s Island heritage group.
The nuns practiced sustainable development when they occupied the island, she said. But since the 1970s, areas touched by the rapids, including the Lachine Canal, the seaway, and Nuns’ Island, have seen continuous growth, Blussé said: “It’s not just condos on Nuns’ Island.”
The group is seeking to define conservation measures that would limit the growth of commercial and residential developments.
“The changes are cumulative. There’s a continual frittering away and there needs to be strict regulations because it’s not sustainable. This is urgent,” Blussée said.
But although the city has approved their request for a petition, a public consultation will not be held without the requisite signatures.
“We have 90 days to get 15,000 signatures,” Blussé said,
To that end, the group has contacted various high schools to mobilize their senior students through various leadership and community service programs to help protect the rapids.
A former teacher, Blussée says this is an opportunity for youth to influence municipal decision-making.
“It’s pupil power for the environment,” she said. “We’re asking young people to help us make a better Montreal.”
Only those age 15 and older and living in Montreal City boroughs are eligible to sign.
For information on Right of Initiative in public consultations, click here.