Quebec extinguishes hope of saving its tropical greenhouse

The fate of the Indo-Australian greenhouse in Quebec is sealed. Despite a citizen and political uprising in favor of its survival, its dismantling will begin in January 2022 to give way to a retention basin.

Quebec City estimates that it would have cost it $ 1.5 million to acquire the premises and an additional six million to refurbish the 2,500 m greenhouse.2 abandoned since the closure of the zoological garden of Quebec in 2006.

An amount too high for the taste of the new administration, which did not want to untie the purse strings to save this infrastructure, inaugurated in 2002 at a cost of $ 14 million and whose useful life was to barely 4 years.

“Currently, we believe that the citizens of Quebec would not have got their money’s worth,” explained Mayor Bruno Marchand.

The City of Quebec has never knocked on the doors of the Legault government to ask for funding, admits the councilor of the Louis-XIV district, Marie-Pierre Boucher, elected under the banner of strong and proud Quebec.

“The City has very little power in this matter,” she concedes.

In the spring, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy sold the land and facilities of the former Quebec zoo to the First Seigneuries School Services Center. Since then, two schools have been created where a parking lot used to welcome visitors.

“The more we delay the demolition of the greenhouse, the more we delay the construction of schools”, explained Mme Butcher. The progress of the work requires the construction of a retention basin. This will be located where the greenhouse has stood for 20 years.

As of February, the City intends to launch a round of consultations to decide, in concert with the citizens, the vocation to be given to the grounds of the former zoo. Currently closed, these will become accessible to the public again in 2024, explain the City and the school service center in a joint press release.

Mourning citizens

In the midst of the municipal election campaign, the announcement of the imminent demolition of the greenhouse had mobilized many citizen groups. The party of the current mayor, Bruno Marchand, had asked for a moratorium on its dismantling.

Since then, more than 13,500 people have signed a petition asking the Quebec government to save it.

The provincial elected officials concerned, in particular the deputy for Charlesbourg and Minister Jonatan Julien, have always returned the ball in the courtyard of the school services center, which did not find any project of valuation of the greenhouse in phase with its educational mission.

Michel Lagacé and the Jardin de la Capitale company he chairs presented to the school services center last summer his vision for the greenhouse. This included a conversion into a four-season garden. Self-financed, the project was based on the development of a housing cooperative. The school service center had refused it, on the pretext that the real estate project contravened municipal zoning.

“It’s like mourning that we live”, deplores today Mr. Lagacé, a biologist engaged in the construction of the greenhouse in 2002 and mobilized for its survival, in 2021. “It is not worthy – any nation, any self-respecting country would have known how to use this greenhouse. “

The demolition completed, some memories of the greenhouse will remain. The school services center undertakes to keep the reception building and to recover “as much material as possible”, in particular a tree-fountain intended to be integrated into an outside classroom.

The nation’s capital is one of the only cities of its size in Canada that does not have winter gardens.

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