Boucher Forest: there will be no second chance
The Boucher Forest Foundation is pleased with the citizen mobilization in favour of the protection of the Boucher Forest in recent weeks. Never before have we witnessed this support on such a large scale! The thousands of people who have spoken out in favour of the integral protection of this natural area are, for us, an unequivocal demonstration of the attachment of the people of Gatineau to the Boucher Forest. Let us remember that it was citizens of the City of Aylmer who initiated the movement for the protection of the Boucher Forest in the 1990s and that it was this citizen commitment that led to the creation of the Boucher Forest Foundation in 2007.
The Boucher Forest covers an area of approximately 270 hectares and is located in a quadrilateral bounded approximately by Wilfrid-Lavigne Boulevard, Des Allumettières Boulevard, Vanier Road and Antoine-Boucher Road. It is home to more than 985 species, including threatened species – the highest level of precariousness, an old-growth forest with trees more than 120 years old, wetlands totalling 135 hectares, and more than 13 forest stands, a rare phenomenon in a forest of this size. The Boucher Forest has an ecological value that has been estimated to be “very high”. However, this ecological value depends not only very closely on the protected area, but also on the ecological connectivity maintained with other adjacent natural environments.
At present, close to 55% of the Boucher Forest belongs to the City of Gatineau and is destined to become a municipal park. Most of the remaining land, approximately 38%, is owned by a real estate developer. Of this portion of the forest, there are some lots that were granted residential and multifunctional zoning in the last development plan. This means that development in the Boucher Forest is a very real possibility in the near future.
It is important to point out that the City of Gatineau has acquired several lots in the Boucher Forest over the years. However, as an organization whose primary mission is conservation, we can only add our voice to those of the thousands of citizens who have signed the petition currently circulating, to ask the municipal council to fully protect the Boucher Forest.
We are more convinced than ever that the complete protection of the Boucher Forest is a desire shared by the community and we encourage the City of Gatineau to take the necessary measures to ensure the protection of its entire territory. This decision must be made now, because if there ever is a development in the Boucher Forest, there would be no turning back.
In 2020, the municipal council has the opportunity to make a strategic choice that will forever mark the history of the protection of the Boucher Forest and that, without a doubt, will be a decision welcomed by current and future populations. As is the case with Central Park in New York or Mount Royal Park in Montreal, the generations that will follow will have us to thank for having had the vision to bequeath to them an immense forest in the heart of a city that will continue to develop. (Trans.)
Boucher Forest Foundation