In a ruling issued on August 26, 2021, Justice Chantal Masse of the Quebec Superior Court directed the Centre d’intendance écologique Latreille (CIEL) to create nature reserves to compensate for a specific incidence of air pollution that occurred in Valleyfield in 2004.
On August 9, 2004, five metric tonnes of sulphur trioxide were released following an accidental equipment breakdown at the CEZinc plant, which produced a toxic cloud covering the southeast sector of Valleyfield and as far west as Montreal. A class action lawsuit was launched against the company by a group of citizens. Masse authorized the class-action suit in 2012, making it the first of its kind to be permitted for a toxic release in Canada.
An agreement between CEZinc and the parties involved states that a certain amount of the settlement is to be used for general environmental remediation purposes. In her decision, Masse awarded a total of $600,000 to the CIEL, a non-profit organization based in Saint-Anicet, for the creation of nature reserves located within 20 kilometres of the contamination site.
Since then, CIEL has acquired two woodlots using the funds awarded in this judgement: a 10-hectare lot in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield in the Saint-Timothée sector, and another 84-hectare lot located on Rang 4 in Godmanchester.
The city of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield contributed $90,000 to CIEL for the purchase of the Saint-Timothée lot, while a fundraising campaign was held to raise the additional funds required to purchase the land in Godmanchester.
“CIEL would like to thank all those who contributed. Their generosity and environmental awareness have made it possible to add conservation areas in our region,” says the CIEL treasurer, Denise St-Germain, in a statement issued by the group. “This is a wonderful gift of biodiversity for future generations,” she adds.
CIEL’s objective is to acquire and conserve ecologically valuable land. The organization now owns nearly 240 hectares of conservation land. (SR)