On the eve of the largest gathering of Quebec cities, the mayor of Quebec set the table on the demands of municipalities to curb urban sprawl by claiming that the government is holding a “dangerous populist” discourse and using “misleading” arguments On the question.
Bruno Marchand has made himself the spokesperson for the municipalities that meet in congress these days in Quebec for the annual meeting of the Union of Quebec Municipalities (UMQ). He also affirmed that the concerns raised by the Cities on the fight against climate change and on the addition of housing are shared by the citizens.
Aiming at “certain ministers” including the Minister of Transport, François Bonnardel, he underlined that according to him, the government does not fully understand the problem of urban sprawl. "When we are told that [densification] is a fad, when we are told: who are we to tell people where to live", and especially when we confuse occupation of the territory and densification, there is something that is important and that people see [clearly]. We cannot go into this populist discourse, which is really dangerous.
He repeated that the urban sprawl caused in particular by the construction of new roads which lead people to settle far from their place of work is very different from the occupation of the territory by the people who live and work there.
“When we say: “densification equals everyone living in Montreal or Quebec City”, it is very, very badly to understand the issue. [...] The densification, it is not in opposite with the occupation of the territory. When I hear the government use this argument to us, I think it is fallacious.”
Mr. Marchand welcomes the Assises de l'UMQ in his city. Very concerned about climate change, the mayors will ask the government for additional tools to support them in the fight, but also for additional housing to promote the densification of cities, argued the mayor of Gaspé and president of the UMQ, Daniel Côté. , who cited the results of a 2019 study that put the municipal financial needs for climate change adaptation at $4 billion.
The latter disagrees with the words of Minister Bonnardel, who argued that densification is “a fashion”. “Densification is not a fad. It is a heavy planetary trend, let us take it for granted and when we talk about densification and land use planning, we are squarely in the field of competence of its municipalities.
The advisory committee on climate change has also proposed several possible solutions this week to do this. Among its recommendations, a moratorium against the addition of new highways.
Bruno Marchand spoke out in favor of such a moratorium. "There are experts who tell us that we should have a moratorium while we think things through, why not."
Still refusing to pronounce in favor or not of a third link, in this context, Mr. Marchand affirmed that it does not "completely" call into question the project, "but it goes in the direction of this idea that: how we do to call it green? What is its impact in terms of GHG emissions in its construction?
In the office of Minister François Bonnardel, we did not wish to react to Mr. Marchand's remarks, stating that it is “his opinion”. Press officer Claudia Loupret recalled that the Minister of Municipal Affairs will soon table her policy on land use planning which will deal with these issues.