Push is on to link Falaise St-Jacques with green space south of Highway 20

“Montreal does not have a green belt,” says Lisa Mintz, founder of the Sauvons la falaise conservation group created to preserve the St-Jacques escarpment. “Here, everything gets fragmented and the more green spaces get fragmented, the tougher it is for wildlife.”

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Kathleen Weil, the Liberal MNA representing Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, said she will be tabling a letter in the National Assembly this week asking Minister of Transport François Bonnardel to make a commitment to building the proposed Dalle-Parc, a pedestrian and bicycle bridge and elevated park over Highway 20.

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The “green” bridge would connect NDG and the Falaise St-Jacques, just south of St. Jacques St., with green spaces by the Lachine Canal and in LaSalle.

The Dalle-Parc was meant to be part of the Turcot Interchange project, but it appears to be shelved. Weil, however, remains optimistic the provincial government will still support the project.

“It could be extraordinary for Montreal,” Weil said. “It would be a signature project, very unique and again it’s one of those projects that puts Montreal on the map… it’s a green project, it’s environmentally friendly… any project that is going to promote walking and getting from A to B on your bicycle , mobility without cars, is a good project. And climate change is coming at such a quick place that it’s urgent to be thinking in that way. And it’s an innovative project, so we’re going to keep pushing for it.”

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The city of Montreal recently announced it had purchased a property on the south side of St. Jacques St. just east of Cavendish Blvd., which it will use as the entrance to the Falaise St-Jacques. The 60-hectare nature park goes all the way from the Turcot Interchange, just south of the MUHC Super Hospital, to the border of Montreal West. Part of the area is wooded, but there is also a walking and biking path that stretches from the Turcot Interchange to close to Montreal West.

Lisa Mintz, founder of the Sauvons la falaise conservation group created to preserve the St-Jacques escarpment, said it is essential to build the Dalle-Parc bridge to connect the green spaces north and south of Highway 20.

“Montreal does not have a green belt,” Mintz said. “Here, everything gets fragmented and the more green spaces get fragmented, the tougher it is for wildlife.”

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Karen Poulsen, who lives in Ville-Émard, just south of the Falaise St-Jacques, said she hopes they preserve the rustic nature of the wooded area.

“You want to make it accessible, but you don’t want to lose what’s special,” Poulsen said. “A nature park has to be more about nature and not an urban park. They also have to stop the businesses (on St. Jacques St.) from throwing stuff on the Falaise. We’ve taken out hundreds of tires. … I’ve helped with the clean-up.”

Roger Jochym, one of the coordinators of Sauvons la Falaise, said they’ve collected at least 400 tires, along with stoves, metal objects, parts of cars, while cleaning up the Falaise area.

“So we now consider the Falaise St-Jacques to have a certain amount of ecological health,” Jochym said. “Up until now, it was a dumping ground, and over 40 or 50 years, that’s been occurring.”

Sauvons la Falaise’s main focus now is to try to make sure the Dalle-Parc green bridge is built.

“It’s the crucial element in tying together a number of separate parklands into one park, including the new Parc Turcot that is being constructed across from the highway and railroad yards,” Jochym said. “For us, it is of prime importance that it be a green bridge, that it be a parkland bridge.”

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