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  • Writer's pictureWest Island News

How Bizard? Residents battle for once public land now deemed private

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A once public piece of land in the West Island’s municipality of L'Île-Bizard was granted private status by the City Council, has residents are expressing their discontent.

Carlotta Kriegs, a resident of L'Île Bizard for almost 60 years is speaking out about a battle that began in 2017.

After a project carried out by Hydro Quebec nearly 20 years ago, a green space was left behind at the end of Kriegs’ street which has been enjoyed by the public since. Sitting right at the waterfront, it is the perfect spot for residents of the street and city to gather and enjoy the outdoors.

According to Kriegs, in 2017, when a new neighbour moved into the property adjacent to the green space, residents thought nothing of it. It was only when the new resident planted a hedge blocking off the public space that Kriegs and fellow citizens began to feel apprehensive.

Kriegs stated in an interview with the West Island News that a complaint was made to the city, and although it took a few weeks due to the ongoing flooding crisis, the matter was eventually addressed, and the hedge was removed.

Now, some 4 years later, the battle continues. In June of this past year, that same neighbour who planted the hedge in 2017 was allegedly given a permit that grants them sole and private access to the green space. This means that all other residents and their families no longer have access to the area and the waterfront.

“The city has basically shut us down and said they’re not addressing the matter until 2023 when the permit expires, and the matter is up for review. We feel at a loss.”
- Carlotta Kriegs

Reportedly, the neighbour in question has been granted this special permit due to the fact that they don’t like people coming down the street, they feel as though their privacy is being affected, and there are supposed loiterers who visit the space late at night to smoke and drink.

It’s worth mentioning that these alleged complaints were made over the course of the last year; the vast majority of which has been governed by ongoing lockdowns and government implemented curfews.

Kriegs and fellow neighbours feel as though the city has simply taken the resident in question’s word rather than investigating the matter further.

“I feel as though they’ve gone out of their way to find a legal loophole to acquire this land.”
- Carlotta Kriegs

The resident has supposedly requested to purchase the land, however, has been unsuccessful due to the fact some residents do not have city services, and the space can be used as a pumping station, and for sewage among other things.

Carlotta Kriegs has been in communication with L'Île-Bizard Mayor, Normand Marinacci, throughout the process, and according to Kreigs, he has been vocal about his disagreement on the motion to make the green space private.

In an e-mail to the Councillors of the city which was forwarded to Kriegs, the mayor wrote:

“You are aware of my position on the subject [of the green space.] I believe that access to water should benefit all citizens and not just one citizen who already owns a large piece of waterfront land. I therefore ask you to revise your position in this matter and to cancel the resolution granting privilege to a single citizen to the detriment of a large number of neighbouring residents.”

At the time of publication, the resolution has not been revised and the private permit has not been voided.

“We’re just in shock that the city has helped this one resident go above and beyond to take public space when they’re trying to create public spaces all over the island of Montreal.”
- Carlotta Kriegs

Until September 30th, Montreal’s Crescent Street will be pedestrian-only.

The city of Sainte-Anne-De-Bellevue made a section of Sainte-Anne street “shared” between pedestrians and motor vehicles for the month of July, reducing the speed limit to 20km/hr and creating a variety of public seating areas and shared spaces.

Kriegs and neighbours hope to appeal the city council’s decision well before 2023 when the matter is up for review.

The neighbour in question has allegedly put in a fence around the area, causing other residents to worry. The fear is that it will be very difficult to return the property to the public domain as more and more permanent modifications are made.

"My argument is not necessarily with this neighbour. I don't want to argue with my neighbour. My argument is with the city for allowing the neighbour to do this."
- Carlotta Kriegs

West Island News reached out to each of the city councillors as well as the mayor, and upon publication of this article, had not received a comment from a representative of the city on the matter. West Island News will be following the story for further updates.

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