Photo: Jacques Grenier On Duty
According to calculations of the Union of agricultural producers, almost 2000 hectares of agricultural land are targeted for non-agricultural uses.
The cry of the heart launched on Thursday by the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA), and environmental groups to protect the agricultural land of the region of Montreal has resonated in the municipal election campaign. At Mirabel, one of the largest municipalities in the agricultural of the North crown, the two candidates for mayor do not see the protection of the territory in exactly the same way.
The UPA, Équiterre, the David Suzuki Foundation and the body Live in the city have lent their voices Thursday to protest pressure from the “significant and continuous” on the agricultural land on the territory of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM). According to their calculations, almost 2000 hectares of agricultural land are targeted for non-agricultural uses.
“Several municipal stakeholders and private developers continue to regard our agricultural land as a bank of available land, or an area waiting for development,” said the president of the UPA), Marcel Groleau.
The CMM has in any way supported this public release, reiterating its commitment to protect the agricultural land of the region of Montreal, respecting the Plan métropolitain d’aménagement et de development (WADP), which was adopted in 2012.
According to data compiled by the organization, the Greater Montreal area has enough spaces to accommodate more than 350 000 new households and the economic development between now and 2031, without touching the agricultural land protected.
By analyzing the records processed, being processed or treated soon by the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec (CPTAQ), the UPA maintains that the city of Mirabel, with 87 % of the territory is agricultural, is the most targeted by the demands of a region free of farm land, with 250 acres of ” at risk “.
She referred to five projects from the region free residential or industrial, which have mostly been rejected by the CPTAQ. “Each case has its peculiarities, but a refusal is almost never the end of the story. The seekers are tough, réajustent and réessayent, ” retorted the spokesperson of the UPA, Patrice Juneau.
The outgoing mayor of Mirabel, Jean Bouchard, casts doubt on the reading of the UPA. It is true that some projects have been approved by the municipality, but they were both before her coming to office in 2013, or relate to dézonages that do not directly affect the agricultural territory, pleads-t-it.
“For the past four years, no application has been made to expand the urban perimeter in the agricultural areas […] agriculture is an important economic activity and it is not a question of make them region-free anything for residential development “, he says, while admitting that he could support requests for the extension of industrial areas due to critical needs.
Several municipal stakeholders and private developers continue to regard our agricultural land as a bank of available land, or an area awaiting development
Marcel Groleau, president of the UPA
Agricultural Zone or not ?
The mayor Bouchard did not fully share the vision of the UPA in regard to the agricultural land. At Mirabel, one of the projects complained of by the farmers ‘ union, for example regarding the conversion of a portion of the golf club Glendale to allow the construction of dwellings. The record, supported by the mayor Bouchard, has been rejected by the COMMUNITY, but it has been appealed twice since.
“This is a golf course, it takes nothing away from the agricultural area “, said Mr. Bouchard. However, the COMMUNITY has entered into in march 2015 that the land can only be used for the golf course or agriculture, and that the cost of its conversion to agricultural zone is not a valid argument to make them region-free.
On his side, the opponent of Mr. Bouchard in view of the election of November 5, Pierre-Paul Meloche, to stand firm. “We want to protect our agricultural land, says he. It is as if the area of the farm was a river, and we always tried to encroach on it. “
Its candidate Réal Brière, a dairy producer from Mirabel, noted that the issue of agricultural land has motivated him to stand for elections. “This is major lance-t-il. I want to regild the blazon of agriculture. “