For more than a week, the owner of lot 1495 on Chemin Saint-Guillaume in Sainte-Marthe, Pierre-Olivier Limoges, has been clearcutting and illegally filling his land. The property of more than 95 hectares is almost completely cleared and the municipality has resorted to a temporary injunction to stop the work.
Photo David Pharand
The municipality of Sainte-Marthe was quickly informed of the actions of Mr. Limoges, owner of Fermes Jules-Édouard Inc., by citizens of the region who saw trucks filled with wood coming from Chemin Saint-Guillaume.
According to the minutes of the last meeting of the municipal council, on April 9th, 2021, the municipality never gave a permit to Mr. Limoges so that he could start work of this magnitude. In addition, there is no information to confirm that the owner has a permit from the Ministry of Environment and the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec (CPTAQ).
Danger to the environment
Clearcutting on the Chemin Saint-Guillaume property is a violation of municipal bylaws and it also has enormous repercussions on the environment. Ronald Verdonck, a farmer and citizen of Sainte-Marthe, owning land near Pierre-Olivier Limoges, is concerned about the state of the flora and fauna on lot 1495.
“The clearcutting that was done destroys the forest of mature trees, but it completely destroys dozens of wetlands, exclaims Mr. Verdonck! Heavy machinery goes into the forest and rolls over the wetlands. It’s a rampage and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.”
The farmer goes on to explain that the landowner uses backfill to dry out wetlands. Not having the authorization of the municipality and the Ministry of Environment, he wonders about the origin of this backfill soil.
“The backfills are made with soil whose origin we don’t know, says Mr. Verdonck. I am afraid that it will not be compliant and that it will pollute our soils and our waterways. The region is crossed by water tables and backfill that is not optimal could contaminate thousands of liters of water.”
By analyzing the photos taken by drone of lot 1495, he came to the conclusion that most of the trees on the land had already been cut and that backfills had been made over a large part of the land.
“In my opinion, the land is 95% cleared and all that remains is to put the wood on the trucks, says Ronald Verdonck. He did this illegally and acted quickly to complete the job.”
The residents of the municipality have not had good experiences with the owner, Mr. Limoges. Some refer to the latter’s aggressive tone and intimidating demeanor.
Nancy De Bellefeuille is a resident of Chemin Saint-Guillaume. She lives a few houses away from the property in question. Since the start of the clearcutting, Mrs. De Bellefeuille has been involved in the Facebook group Citoyen de Sainte-Marthe. Having made publications where she denounces the situation and tries to get answers, Pierre-Olivier Limoges has targeted her.
“He told my husband he was going to buy us out and that he was going to kick us out, she says. He even started honking in front of the house in the early morning, daytime and late evening.”
The woman wants the intimidation to stop. She doesn’t want a problem with Mr. Limoges and doesn’t understand his cavalier attitude.
“He says that I am doing defamation, says Nancy De Bellefeuille. I didn’t do any of that and I don’t understand his relentlessness.”
Mr. Limoges has received from a bailiff an order to stop his work. Faced with its refusal to comply, the municipality therefore resorted to the courts to enforce the order. According to the minutes, dated April 9tth 2021, Sainte-Marthe mandated the law firm, SPS Avocats, to take care of extrajudicial proceedings and all other legal recourses.
The two parties met on May 14th at 9 a.m. at the Salaberry-de-Valleyfield courthouse to settle the dispute. Judge François P. Duprat heard from both parties and came to the conclusion that there is irreparable damage. Indeed, if the work continues until the date of the final judgment, mature trees could be felled without the possibility of replanting them, if the cause went to the applicants’ side.
Judge Duprat therefore imposed an interim injunction until the final judgment to be held on May 26tth
The work must therefore cease on May 14tth 2021.