Residents mobilize to save green corridor in Village Champlain at risk of Brigil development
Citizens for the Preservation of the Champlain-Voyageurs Corridor, with the support of over 20 residents' associations and Mères au Front Outaouais, a local group fighting against climate change for future generations, are mobilizing to preserve a green corridor in Aylmer. The Champlain corridor connects Gatineau Park to the Ottawa River.
The majority of the corridor is owned by the National Capital Commission (NCC), with parts owned by Gatineau and another section by Brigil Construction, where they are developing Village Champlain, a high-density real estate project.
The area is significant for local ecology as it provides a habitat for many species and serves as a crossing for migrating local wildlife. At the request of the citizens, a researcher from UQO and his team conducted a connectivity study of the site. Village Champlain site, in the southern portion of the corridor, is about 134 acres, 700 meters wide and 1,000 meters long. The site also includes wetlands and other diverse habitats. The site contains a creek along the western boundary and a forest southwest.
According to the study, the integrity of the corridor will be compromised, and it will affect the area's ability to act as a corridor for species as the plan reduces one section of the corridor to 50 meters wide. The 50 meters that remain if the Brigil development goes forward as planned is owned by Gatineau and is occupied by Atholl-Doune Park.
“This reduces the connectivity of the corridor, effectively bottlenecking the corridor,” said Lara Griffiths, Gatineau resident and founding member of Citizens for the Preservation of the Champlain-Voyageurs Corridor. "We remain hopeful that we can come to an agreement with Brigil to save the corridor."
Phase one of the two-phase project has already been approved and work has started.
The group is calling on Brigil to take action and has proposed various recommendations to protect the corridor. First, maintain at least 200 meters west of the site as opposed to the 50 meters planned, preserve biodiversity, rare species and century-old trees.
The citizens for the protection of the Champlain corridor have also called on Brigil to donate a portion of its property to Gatineau in order to conserve the integrity of the corridor. The group also asked Gatineau to have procedures in place to better protect ecology, with its Biodiversity Charter Action Plan.
Since 2021, Griffiths says they have had three meetings with Brigil, highlighting their concerns about reducing the width of the corridor, the protection of trees, and the protection of wetlands; however, Brigil did not give any indication that they were open to the citizens' suggestions.
“There have been many public consultations about the project,” said Jessy Desjardins, Vice President of Development and Conception. “Our experts are reviewing the study that was shared with us. Once we finish, we can meet with citizens again; we are ready to listen and collaborate. Our objective with Village Champlain is to align with sustainable development practices and to have considerable tree canopy in the project.”
Anik Des Marais, Mitigomijokan councillor, showed her support for the mobilization during the April 18 municipal council meeting, inviting citizens to inform themselves on the importance of green corridors and invited residents to participate in the demonstration organized by the citizen group and Mères au Front Outaouais. The demonstration is a human chain protest to protect the corridor. Individuals interested can meet at 1150 chemin d’Aylmer at 2 pm on Saturday, April 29.
A petition to save the corridor is also being circulated with nearly 700 signatures. https://chng.it/CFvfQyvL9d
Photo Caption: Map showing the Champlain-Voyageur corridor and the site of Brigil’s Village Champlain
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mères au Front Outaouais and Citizens for the protection of the Champlain-Voyageurs Corridor