Montreal aims to protect the Steinberg woods


The City of Montreal intends to acquire the Boisé Steinberg, in Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, in order to preserve it as a natural space, has learned The duty. The City has entered into an agreement with Hydro-Québec, owner of the wooded area, but this agreement is conditional on the purchase by the Crown corporation of another piece of land on which to build its transformer station.

The executive committee on Wednesday approved behind closed doors a promise to purchase by the City of two lots at a cost of $26 million.

First, Montreal agreed with Hydro-Quebec to acquire Boisé Steinberg, located south of rue Hochelaga, in the Assomption Sud–Longue-Pointe sector. Hydro-Québec has owned this lot since August 2021 and planned to build a transformer station there.

According to city documents The duty was able to consult, the purchase cost of the Boisé Steinberg, with an area of ​​29,087 square meters, was set at $7.2 million. This is the same amount that Hydro-Québec had paid to the Société québécoise des infrastructures a year ago for this land.

A complex operation

But where it gets complicated is that to carry out this transaction, Hydro-Québec must for its part manage to buy another piece of land on which to build its transformer station. The state corporation is therefore coveting land located nearby, north of Hochelaga Street, and has begun negotiations with its owner, Développements Rosmac inc.

Talks are still ongoing. When this transaction is concluded, Hydro-Québec will in turn transfer to the City part of the land that it will not use for its transformer station. As a result, to get hold of the Steinberg woods, the City also undertakes to acquire 23,000 square meters of land at an estimated cost of $20.1 million.

“This is a major step towards the acquisition of a green space and its protection, but until the sale between the private owner and Hydro-Québec is confirmed, the protection of the Boisé Steinberg is not official. That’s why we have a cautious enthusiasm,” explains the mayor of Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Pierre Lessard-Blais. “It’s a bit of a three-way domino. »

The elected official believes, however, that the negotiations between Hydro-Québec and Rosmac Developments could be concluded in October, “if all goes well”.

Lack of green spaces

Boisé Steinberg once housed a warehouse for food giant Steinberg, but the building was demolished in the 1990s following a fire. Over time, nature has reclaimed its rights and, for years, residents have been calling for the protection of the wooded area, in an area where green spaces are rare.

It is also located north of the Ray-Mont Logistiques site where a controversial container transshipment project is to see the light of day.

A few years ago, the Ministère des Transports du Québec, then owner of Boisé Steinberg, planned to build a motorway loop on part of the site in order to connect Souligny Avenue to Boulevard de l’Assomption, but this option did not is no longer in the plans, assures Pierre Lessard-Blais.

The wooded area was also talked about in May 2021, when an illegal camp was dismantled there.

As for the land located north of rue Hochelaga that Hydro-Québec covets, it once housed a fruit distribution center that has been deconstructed in recent years. “It’s mineralized land that does not have the value of the Steinberg woods,” said Mayor Lessard-Blais.

The agreement reached between Montreal and Hydro-Quebec will have to be approved by the city council and by the agglomeration council next week.

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