The federal government will intervene to preserve the habitat of an endangered frog south of Montreal, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said Monday.
Guilbeault said in a statement on Twitter that he will recommend an emergency order to protect the western chorus frog, whose habitat is endangered due to a road construction project in Longueuil, Que., A southern suburb of Montreal.
Guilbeault wrote that after evaluating the scientific evidence and consulting with department officials, he has decided that the animal deserves protection under the Species at Risk Act.
Quebec environmental groups reacted favorably to the announcement, which came after lawsuits seeking federal intervention were filed in late October.
The western chorus frog is a small species that breeds in temporary wetlands that are increasingly threatened by agriculture and development.
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Environmental groups convinced the Superior Court of Quebec that the threats to the western chorus frog were serious and obtained a court order to stop road works in Longueuil for 10 days, which will end on Monday.
On Monday, Genevieve Paul, executive director of the Center québécois du droit de l’environnement, said the order has now been extended until November 22, assuring no further work will be done on the site.
“So today it is a relief twice, one with respect to the recommendation made by the environment minister and another relief because we are against the clock here and we managed to suspend construction works for additional days,” said Paul. in an interview, he said that he hopes the victories mean that the habitat will be adequately protected.
In 2016, the federal government issued an emergency order protecting a western chorus frog population threatened by a housing development in nearby La Prairie, Que., A fight in which Paul’s group was involved.
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In a statement, the city of Longueuil said it had consented to the court’s order to suspend work, but a spokesperson said there would be no further comment as the case remains before a judge.
The city has previously said it was trying to balance citizens’ needs with protecting the environment, noting that it had received the necessary approvals for the project, which has been in the works for a decade.
The 300-meter extension of the road, as well as a passage for frogs to allow them to pass under the new road, has been said to be almost complete, but not yet open.
Paul’s organization, along with SNAP Quebec, another environmental organization, hopes that the latest ruling will send a message to the Quebec government to modernize its policies for the protection of threatened or vulnerable species.
“There are serious or severe weaknesses in our framework that made such a situation possible and we know how the problem can be solved,” he said.
The groups now want remediation measures from all levels of government in the area where work was being done to stop the drainage of the wetlands before the soil freezes so as not to compromise reproduction next spring.
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