The City of Montreal will spend $3.5 million to acquire a 78,500-square metre expanse of land in the West Island and add it to the protected l’Anse-à-l’Orme nature park.

The property at 575 Elm Avenue in Beaconsfield is part of the Angell Woods forest. The acquisition of the land – about the size of ten CFL football fields – would extend l’Anse-à-l’Orme nature park to Highway 20.

In a written statement, Beaconsfield mayor Georges Bourelle said the extension could eventually lead to a north-south recreational corridor linking with Cap-St.Jacques.

Stephen Lloyd, the president of the Association for the protection of Angell Woods, said it’s important to preserve all remaining green spaces on the West Island.

“There are 10 or 11 rare species or endangered species in Angell Woods. These aren’t just any old woods. This is a century-old forest, largely untouched,” he said.

The property contains a building which will be demolished by the city.  The former retirement home, Marian Hall, was bought by a developer in 2011 for $3.5 million to turn into apartments. It was not developed and sits vacant.

The acquisition represents a small part of Angell Woods. There are two other privately owned lots on either side, one 3.5-million square metres in size and another at 1.8-million square metres, Lloyd said.

The fate of the entire Angell Woods territory has been a point on contention among West Island residents and environmentalists for years.