Two golf courses in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu under pressure

The residents of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu are concerned about the future of two golf courses that are the last major green spaces in their neighborhood. The significant population growth in the region in recent years has led to a growing need for housing and new schools. But at what cost?

About fifteen inhabitants of this commune of Haut-Richelieu in Montérégie, whose population last year approached the symbolic threshold of 100,000 inhabitants, welcomed us The duty Friday near the Les Légendes golf course, where several trees stand next to a freshly mowed lawn. The owners of the premises, the Morin family, approached the city last year to propose that part of the site be parked while the rest of the land would become a new residential area, which would require a zoning change. The company did not respond to interview requests Have to Friday.

As for the Boisés de la Mairie, another neighboring golf course which has been “partly owned by Les Immeubles P. Baillargeon since the early 2010s”, operations manager Luc Rivard states that he has “no forecast” regarding housing construction on this one Terrain. “Following the public consultation launched by the city, we will work with all stakeholders to ensure harmonious development,” added Mr Rivard, whose company specializes in promoting real estate projects, via email.

To care

The public consultation in question relates to a possible Special Planning Program (PPU) for the development of the Bergère and Échevins sector, which includes, among other things, a residential area and the golf courses of this municipality in Montérégie. An online survey launched by the city on Thursday on the subject reports the need for housing, primary and secondary schools in this sector, as well as for the creation of a new road link that “crosses this sector”.

“However, we don’t want that in a few years there will be concrete everywhere and we won’t have access to green spaces,” says Évelyne Beaudry, a teacher in the industry and a member of Mères au front, a group that wants “our children.” and protect life on earth in the face of climate catastrophe”, from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

How several other residents met The dutyShe fears the potential creation of new heat islands that could spill over into the surrounding golf courses, considered by many to be the last great green lungs of the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu urban area.

“We’re really worried,” adds the DD Geneviève Lalumière, who is a member of the Quebec Association of Physicians for the Environment. The lack of green space accessible to all is already glaring in the industry, which can impact the physical and mental health of many, she points out: “If I could prescribe my patients to walk in wooded areas, it would be really beneficial be for her. But I don’t know where to send them on foot in the city, ”says Mme The light. She therefore believes that the city should encourage densification to meet its housing and other infrastructure needs.

“There are cities that have repositioned themselves in their approach and we are lagging behind”, adopting a logic of urban sprawl, agrees the vice-president of the Ecological Movement of Haut-Richelieu, Maxime Tremblay.

Accompanied by The dutyHowever, Mayor Andrée Bouchard says she is not aware of any project involving “residential units” on the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu golf courses. “Currently we are not working on a real estate development project. We are working on the development of a living space that is close to the citizens,” says the mayor, who “wants to keep as much green as possible”.

In mid-July, Councilman François Roy, who is also a real estate agent, left Mayor Andrée Bouchard’s team because he did not share her “vision” for the city’s development, particularly on its golf courses, where he feared a real estate project will see the light of day catch sight of. “The boat has already left the harbor and the golf courses are being expanded,” he says in an interview. “You shouldn’t be naive. »

Asked about the issue, the mayor goes on to affirm that no housing is planned on golf courses, but suggests that a “balance” must be found between “citizens’ needs” and “green space conservation”. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 0.8% of rental units in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu were available last year.

“If you talk to me about housing units, I’ll tell you that I’m not aware of it at all. Some may know more than I do. But it remains certain that the need for housing will have to be met,” emphasizes Mme Bouchard.

A critical advice

The survey launched by the city will continue at least until August 14, after which the city will analyze the results to detail its position on the development of this sector this fall. Being a PPU-based model, no referendum is required to allow elected members of the local council to advance their vision of the sector’s development, which raises the eyebrows of many residents but also one expert in local government.

“It’s not illegal at all, but it’s true that a PPU deprives the population of the opportunity to request approval of the referendum,” notes Danielle Pilette, a professor of urban planning at the University of Quebec in Montreal. “The process doesn’t seem optimal to me. »

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