Environmental groups and Montreal’s official opposition are speaking out against a proposed land development in northwestern Pierrefonds that would see a forest turned into a residential housing project.

Last week, the City of Montreal announced its intention to develop the chunk of land between Cap-Saint-Jacques and the end of Pierrefonds Boulevard on Montreal's West Island.

The proposal was outlined in the city’s 10-year plan.

Pierrefonds mayor Dimitrios Jim Beis confirmed the land will be turned into low-density residential housing. He estimates 5,000 to 6,000 new homes will be built.

Environmental impact

Karel Mayrand, executive director of the David Suzuki Foundation in Quebec, spoke out against the city’s plan to bulldoze existing green space.

“The scale of this...It’s probably the most important development on the Island of Montreal right now,” he said.

The city's 10-year plan also includes increasing the percentage of available green space on the island. Mayrand said an easier solution would be preserving this area, instead of developing it.

“The City of Montreal is trying to increase protected areas in the region to 12 per cent. So if we keep cutting down trees, where are we going to find the 12 per cent to find green space for our children?”

Mayrand said that if the project goes ahead, transportation will also be more difficult. He said with 5,000 more homes, there could be 10,000 new vehicles driving to downtown Montreal every morning.

Projet Montréal also opposes the development plan.

"What we see is the access of those homes will be by building new roads and not by building new transit," said councillor Éric-Alain Caldwell.

"And therefore people who go and stay there will need to use their cars."

Development good for city, says mayor

The mayor of Pierrefonds-Roxboro said the borough has been lobbying for this development for ten years.

"I think it's a wonderful development for Pierrefonds," said Beis.

"There's an area of land here that's been sitting there for years. We have an opportunity now to define and build and have people stay in our communities."

He added that the new development will also involve building bike lanes and bus transit, with green space incorporated into the plan.