A new bylaw will force St-Lazare landowners to preserve nature trails on their territory, the town’s mayor says.
The bylaw, enacted at a special meeting in December, will protect existing trails on private property for non-motorized recreational activities like cycling, horseback riding and cross-country skiing. The bylaw states that if a trail exists on private property, it must be preserved by anyone who wishes to develop that land.
“In the past few years, we have lost countless kilometres all because there was no will to protect them. Now, there’s a will, and people can enjoy them forever,” Mayor Robert Grimaudo said.
Town spokesperson Geneviève Hamel said developers will have to maintain the trails.
“The developer has to make it usable, and deliver the city with a finished trail,” she said. “If we want to extend a trail, they’re going to have to extend it for us.”
She said she didn’t know what recourse landowners would have if they wished to challenge the bylaw, nor could she say whether the new bylaw would affect property values.
Greg MacCaul, a director of the Club Équestre les Forestiers, said he believes this is a good move by the town.
“This city is one of the fastest growing in Canada, and as people move in, these trails start to disappear,” he said. “Even if you just lose a few every year, eventually, there will be none left.”
But not everyone is happy with the bylaw.
Gilbert Arsenault, the councillor for District 5, said the bylaw seemed rushed, and didn’t see why it needed to be passed during a special meeting.
“It seems like the town is creating panic out of nowhere,” Arsenault said. “I’m all for saving green space, but it has to be (properly) structured. It was pushed, for a political agenda, I guess.”