Wednesday, 6 June 2007

This is no way to make denser, more liveable and sustainable cities

The Quebec government commission studying agricultural land use and the future of agrobusiness (called officially La Commission sur l’avenir de l’agriculture et de l’agroalimentaire québécois) will be in Montreal tomorrow to hear presentations. (See more in French at http://www.caaaq.gouv.qc.ca)

Quebec has relatively strict agricultural zoning regulations, but they have not stopped continued transformation of good farm land to housing developments, particularly around Montreal. According to a story in influential French-language daily Le Devoir last week (May 29), 50,000 hectares of agricultural land have been removed from zoning protection since 1994 even though only 2 percent of Quebec is arable.

The situation around the province's Métropole, Montreal, is even worse. Laurent Pellerin of the Union des producterus agricoles (a farmers’ group) told Le Devoir that 3,000 hectares of land zoned for agriculture in the Montreal Urban Community have been dezoned since 2003. This is despite the fact there are at least 30,000 hectares of undeveloped, non-agricultural land in the urban community which could be developed.

Montreal is better than other North American cities when it comes to dependence on the automobile, but obviously we're going to have to be more vigilant.

1 comment:

stuart said...

Montreal as usual is hosting the Formula One Grand Prix this weekend. This is without a doubt, one of the least green events imaginable. I can't think of one saving grace about this collection of cars, people and consumables. At least the visitors are discouraged from using their own vehicles to get to the site, and are more or less forced to use the Metro.
But the City of Montreal tried to become a little greener this week. The mayor opened the first public building with a real green roof. A large surface of the Cote-des-Neiges / N-D-G Cultural Centre was converted into a proper green roof, with a covering of low-growing succulents and grass plants to absorb heat and water. From a gardener's point of view, it's actually quite a well thought out and conceived project. It uses the best of materials and was well constructed by a crew of city workers.
The landscape architect of the project, Jean Landry, has been pushing the city for a number of years to set an example by installing a green roof. His first installation has been met with wide-spread approval from politicians and the public, and there are promises of more to come from the city. Landry hopes this will act as an example to other building owners to renovate their roofs into green oases. The building is already showing the benefits of winter warmth and summer cooling as a result of the green insulation. (www.ville.montreal.qc.ca)
I'm pleased to see this first step by the city. Certainly plenty of people have been promoting the green roof principles here and in other cites (www.greenroofs.org)
and Montreal is lagging behind. But the City of Montreal's first initiative is at least a step in the right direction.
The Cultural Centre's roof garden is open to the public, at 5290 Cote-des-Neiges Rd.