A new lever for enhancing Quebec’s agricultural land
Today, CDPQ Infra, a subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, along with the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA), the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) and the City of Brossard confirmed the creation of an agricultural social utility trust by way of an investment of close to $3 million.
Social utility trusts are independent entities responsible for preserving heritage. The trust will support the establishment of new agricultural businesses and those of the future, bordering the Réseau express métropolitain’s (REM) future South Shore terminal station in Brossard, thereby ensuring the sustainability, vitality and viability of agricultural activities on the lands around the future station. The trust will be administered by a board of trustees composed of representatives from the UPA, REM, CMM and the City of Brossard.
This trust will also support the ultimate development of a metropolitan agricultural park around the South Shore terminal station, as announced by the CMM in March 2017. As part of the green and blue spaces initiative, this new park will enhance tourism and recreation opportunities by upgrading the land and its agricultural operations. This park is also an opportunity to create an environment conducive to developing innovative, peri-urban agricultural projects aligned with the Plan métropolitain d’aménagement et de développement (PMAD) and the Plan d’action métropolitain de mise en valeur du territoire et des activités agricoles 2016-2020 (PAMAA). The metropolitan agricultural park could ultimately cover several dozen hectares.
This project will reinforce the actions under way since 2011 by the City of Brossard aimed at protecting and developing the natural habitats of the Bois de Brossard, notably through the acquisition of land for conservation purposes, the adoption of the Natural Habitats Management Master Plan and, more recently, the submission of an application for a nature reserve.
Slowing urban sprawl
The creation of a trust and the metropolitan agricultural park will help protect, enhance and boost the area’s agricultural lands through all of the partners’ combined efforts. The initiative also bears witness to the commitment of all parties to protecting agricultural land, fighting urban sprawl, and recultivating certain lands located around the REM’s South Shore terminal station.
The agricultural social utility trust announced today will allow for the purchase and recultivation of land by established agricultural producers or young farmers, with a view to supporting local agricultural production. The foods produced can be sold at the station, at kiosks or at a temporary market. The arrival of a light rail system like the REM will connect this new agricultural hub to a structured network, allowing it to showcase the vitality of the metropolitan agricultural sector.
“We are very proud of this initiative, which exemplifies all our coordinated work and the dialogue we have undertaken. From the outset, we looked for solutions to be able to build the REM’s South Shore terminal station south of Highway 30. We were open to ideas and, thanks to organizations like Équiterre, Vivre en ville and the David Suzuki Foundation, we were able to propose an innovative initiative under the leadership of the UPA and the CMM,” said Macky Tall, Head of Liquid Markets, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and President and Chief Executive Officer, CDPQ Infra.
“There is a very specific context for creating this trust and metropolitan agricultural park, and it sends a clear message: urbanization must stop here. We are delighted that the REM, CMM and other partners understand this need. Access to land is a major impediment for young farmers. These two initiatives will facilitate the start-up of new agricultural businesses in a region where land has become unaffordable, and this is great news,” added Marcel Groleau, President of the UPA.
“The agricultural land trust is a powerful tool for responding to the challenge of protecting our agricultural land. It will help transform the impacts feared by our residents regarding the construction of the terminal station on the South Shore into development opportunities. Thanks to projects like this, CMM and its 82 municipalities will be able to meet their objective of increasing the amount of cultivated land in the metropolitan area by 6% by 2031,” stated Doreen Assaad, Mayor of Brossard and member of the board of directors of CMM.
About the REM
The Réseau express métropolitain (REM) is a new, 67-km integrated public transit network that will feature 26 stations and link downtown Montreal, universities, South Shore, West Island, North Shore and Montréal Trudeau airport through a fully automated electric light rail system. Offering high-frequency service, the REM will be in service seven days per week, 20 hours per day, and will be connected to three main Montréal metro lines.
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