Laval Facing its Past: Balancing the Urgency of a Sustainable Future and Economy



Laval, 5 January 2024

In Laval, we are witnessing a return to the past as the municipality considers reallocating a historic agricultural land to establish a new industrial zone. The goal is to construct a film complex in the Saint-François district. The land in question, owned by the city and nestled in a bucolic agricultural landscape on the edge of a residential area, could be sold at an advantageous price of about $14.60 per square foot, without the need for a bidding process.

Since the announcement in May 2022 of this controversial project, it has sparked intense discussions about its proposed site and has seen several significant reversals. Among these was a damning report issued in June 2022 by the Laval Urban Planning Service, which suggested rejecting the zoning change request. The project also raised questions about social acceptability and took a turn with the promoter's cancellation of a registry opening for a referendum. These events are followed by the abandonment of the initial project the same year. In 2023, the project was reintroduced with modifications, including the elimination of the initially planned training center. A written public consultation was scheduled during the end-of-year holidays, adding another chapter to this project's tumultuous history.

Although the land has not been designated as permanent agricultural land in the 1990s under the era of former mayor Vaillancourt, it continued to be farmed until recently. While initially intended to become an eco-neighborhood, the future of this land remains uncertain, offering various possibilities. It could either remain an agricultural space, be transformed into a residential area, or, as recently proposed, be converted into a new industrial zone.

It is surprising to note that, on one hand, our mayor demonstrates a commitment to sustainable development, promoting environmental initiatives, car-free neighborhoods, and exemplary regulation. On the other hand, in 2022, he seems ready to prioritize rapid development in the name of the economy, at the risk of neglecting recommendations from his own urban planning service. This duality raises questions, particularly regarding the balance between economic growth and environmental preservation.

Although the project represents economic benefits, it is essential to reconsider its location from a sustainable development perspective. Considering the directives of the Sustainable Development Act (Art. 6), government guidelines, and the metropolitan land use and development plan (PMAD), it seems wise to consider an alternative site for the film industry.

In this perspective, why not consider the old drive-in (Ciné-Parc Laval) site or another similar location as an alternative? This choice would not only be symbolic, reconnecting with Laval's cinematic history, but also practical, by reusing a space already associated with cinema. This proposal would preserve our precious cultivable agricultural lands, which represent only about 2% of the territory in Quebec, while reintegrating a historic site into the contemporary cultural fabric of the city. This long-term approach would offer a balance between industrial development and environmental protection, thus reflecting the values and aspirations of the Laval community in this controversial project.

Today, citizens remain in anticipation of the municipality's promised responses to the concerns raised during the December 13, 2023 consultation. It is now impossible for them to participate democratically by opening a registry for a referendum approval. This situation perfectly illustrates the shortcomings of a municipal project, marked by a chaotic approach from start to finish, in stark contrast to the image of "Laval, a city with inspiring practices" promoted in its public consultation and citizen participation policy adopted in 2021.

Perhaps we have forgotten, at the beginning of 2024, the urgency to act swiftly and decisively, with the celerity and determination of a spirited Cowboy Fringant, for a sustainable future that resonates in song for our future generations.

Co-porte-parole de la Coalition Mobilisations Citoyennes Environnementales de Laval (CMCEL)

Jonathan Tremblay


« À la suite de cette assemblée, du 14 décembre 2023 au 12 janvier 2024, il est possible de transmettre vos commentaires par écrit de 2 manières (par courriel ou par la poste) :

Service de l’urbanisme
À l’attention de Madame Julie Côté
1333, boul. Chomedey, bureau 700C.P. 422, Succ. Saint-MartinLaval, Québec H7V 3Z4 »