Gérald Désourdy stands on the summit of Mount Horizon. In front of him lies a territory the size of Mount Royal, covered with trees and streaked with hiking trails. On the left, suspended on a ridge, the western slope of the Bromont ski mountain, with its pistes, chairlifts and luxurious chalets, seems ready to sweep over the last intact part of the Mount Brome massif.
“We can not afford not to succeed,” says Mr. Désourdy, one of the six children of Bromont’s founder, who, along with his brother Robert and others, is trying to prevent the youngest of the family, Charles, president of Bromont, mountains of experiences, continue the real estate development of the ski resort.
It is midnight minus one for the opponents of Val 8, project of 27 residences that would push the footprint of the center in the heart of the “horseshoe”, a natural amphitheater nestled at 375 meters above sea level between the ski area and the mountains still virgins Horizon, Bernard and Spruce, to the south.
In the face of opposition from the population, the developer agreed a year ago to sell his lands at a price of about $ 7 million for the creation of a park that would recover the entire territory.
But the deadline to confirm that the money has been collected is December 31 at 5 pm Otherwise, the promoter Bromont Immobilier will be able to go ahead with his project.
And less than a month before that date, 3.5 million are still missing. This is the part that the municipality of Bromont and the protection groups involved in the adventure hope to receive from the Quebec Ministry of Tourism.
WAITING FOR QUEBEC
“We are very confident,” continues Gérald Désourdy with a smile that is reassuring. The new mayor of Bromont, who was himself very involved in the protection movement before embarking on politics, is making the same speech. “The signals we have from governments are very good. I’m not worried. We will succeed the project, “says Louis Villeneuve.
“We know the consequence,” adds Mayor Villeneuve.
“If the Quebec government does not come to support this project on December 31, Bromont, mountain of experiences will be able to get out chainsaws. That’s the consequence, “the Mayor of Bromont.
The financial package includes a contribution of $ 2.75 million from the municipality, $ 1 million from the federal government through the Nature Conservancy of Canada and $ 1 million from a grassroots fundraising campaign led by groups supporting the protection effort. Quebec would complete the stake, plus taxes and about $ 1 million for a management fund (the total is just over $ 8 million).
Thursday morning, in front of the city hall, the big barometer installed to mark the progress of the effort of the population reached for the first time the bar of 90%.
But still not a word from Quebec, at least publicly. At the Ministry of Tourism, a spokeswoman said Friday that the request, which is part of the support program for tourism development strategies, is “still in analysis”.
A NEW PROPOSAL THAT MAY BROWN THE CARDS
According to the situation closely, the president of the station, Charles Désourdy, took out a rabbit from his hat a few days ago and sent discreetly to the municipality a new proposal.
He suggests reducing the selling price by about $ 1.5 million (before taxes), but to keep the right to build eight houses on the north-west side of the mountain, which runs along the westernmost track and which overlooks the valley of the horseshoe.
“With that, in my opinion, they are 99% sure of getting the fixture ready to buy these lands,” said Charles Désourdy in an interview.
“But that, they do not want to talk about it, because they say: we want to force the government to put money, we want, we want … And I say: yes, I agree but, on the transparency side, can we let the government and the citizens decide what is the best option? “Launches Charles Desoudy, president of Bromont, mountain of experiences.
Both the municipality and Protégeons Bromont group whose two other brothers Désourdy are part, we walk on eggs when it comes to this third possibility.
“What we want is a park, it’s not a part of the park,” says Gérald Désourdy.
“For the moment, we are not here. For now, it’s an integral park on December 31, “added Mayor Villeneuve. However, his office refused to provide a copy of this latest offer for the sale of 19 lots.
“ONLY VESTIGE OF OUR PRECOLONIAL FORESTS”
The Mount Brome Massif is one of the nine Monteregian hills that rise above the landscape in the vicinity of Montreal, including Mount Saint-Hilaire, Mount Royal, Mont Saint-Bruno and Mont Rougemont.
“The Montérégiennes are pretty much the only remnant of our precolonial forests in the St. Lawrence Lowlands. Everything else has been tapped and everything else is grown or pretty much, or has been changed significantly, “says Joel Bonin, director of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the non-profit organization that is to provide the notice by the end of the year to the promoter Bromont Immobilier.
The territory concerned has several environments or species to protect, including the purple salamander found only in Quebec, and “three large marshes and a bog in the heart of the park,” said Michel Matteau, president of the Friends of the Bromont trails. It is a priority conservation area. ”
“With these marshes come precarious species both at the floristic and the animal level. We must find a way to protect these environments in order to promote these living environments, “says Michel Matteau.
If these groups and the municipality manage to complete the funding, they will create a park of nearly 500 acres, the Parc des Sommets, where the existing network of walking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails would be set up. value. A refuge in the form of a sugar shack would also be built and could house a small museum of maple, to highlight the maple past of the place.
A PARTICULAR MEANING
For Gérald Désourdy, the park has a special meaning: it was his father Roland who owned the massif and, when he was younger, he was part of his vast playground. He hopes that it will be the same. for his children and grandchildren, and for future generations of Bromontois and visitors.
His brother Charles, meanwhile, does not deviate and maintains that his project represents only the development of a limited portion of the territory, much of which could continue to be used by cyclists and walkers and that it intends to abide by all the standards and principles of sustainable development.
“I have no idea why my two brothers in March 2013 decided to crin the population to prevent this project and invest these sums … and to convince them, especially! I do not know. Even today, I am convinced that a clear file with a choice and a referendum, I do not think we would be there, but … ”
“There, we arrive at noon less one and we will see where it takes us. ”
THE SAGA IN FIVE TIMES
SEPTEMBER 2013: The City gives conditional approval to the Bromont Immobilier project.
APRIL 2013: Citizens submit a petition of more than 4000 names to oppose it.
JULY 2015: The municipality finally rejects the project.
JULY 2015: Bromont Immobilier sues.
NOVEMBER 2016: An amicable settlement intervenes and provides the deadline of December 31, 2017.