Urban densification: “There is a way to build differently”, acknowledges Andrée Laforest

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Andrée Laforest, stated on Tuesday that there are “trends” in urban development, without confirming – like her colleague Minister of Transport – that densification is a “fad”, manifested by the sending of families to high-rise housing.

“There are indeed trends in urban development,” she said during question time at the National Assembly. “Now there is a way to build differently. There are “plexiglass”, there are terraced houses, there are multi-generation houses. So, yes, there are ways,” she continued.

Minister Laforest recalled that she was preparing to put on the table the national policy on architecture and land use planning, a “very bold” plan to reform the law in particular on land use planning and development, which has been unchanged for more than 40 years. is.

“Give us a few days or a few weeks. And yes, we will now have a vision for Quebec in terms of development,” she promised. Andrée Laforest is due to give a preview of this policy on Friday, as part of the congress of the Union of Quebec municipalities. The full CAQ vision will be revealed later in the spring.

Unrest around the word “fashion”

The minister responded Tuesday to questions from the opposition, who wanted to know whether it shared the view of Transport Minister François Bonnardel, who persists in saying that urban densification is a “fashion”.

On April 15, the elected official presented a new version of the third link between Quebec and Lévis, a project around which a wide scientific consensus has developed that it will contribute to increasing the development of the suburbs. “Who am I to say to a young family, ‘As fashion is getting busier, you’re going to live in a 12-storey tower’?” M. Bonnardel then launched.

His statement caused unrest among mayors, who said: The press that urban densification remains a necessary means for them to contain climate change. To this was added on Monday the advice of the main group charged with advising the government on the environment. The latter has published a paper in which he insists on the need to densify the urban fabric.

“Densification is necessary, it is essential. And no, no, sir, densification does not mean that you have to raise a family in a downtown flat. There are all kinds of ways to move forward, and you know that,” Liberal MP André Fortin said on Tuesday. He criticized Minister Bonnardel for having “ideas straight from the 1950s”.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, of Québec Solidaire, referred to the same decade. “We also have to contain urban sprawl, we have to develop our territory in a different way. We can’t repeat the recipes of the fifties anymore,” he begged.

A “past date” party

In the Blue Room, he recalled that the Environment Minister, Benoit Charette, stated in March that the third link could serve as a brake on urban sprawl. He criticized the Prime Minister, François Legault, for raising acceptable thresholds for the concentration of nickel in the air, despite the unfavorable opinion of, among others, the 18 regional directors of public health in Quebec.

“That is the result of four years of government, of a party that is ‘outdated’. Too many environmental issues make us stagnate. We’re pulling back on others,” he cursed.

Mr Legault responded by arguing for a “balance”. “We all agree that the big cities need to become denser, but there are regions that have the right to develop, there are Quebecers who have the right to live in the regions of Quebec,” he stressed, while he criticized Québec’s parliamentary leader in solidarity for another speech in Montreal and in the regions.

“Québec Solidaire wants to put a moratorium on the development of the regions. We believe that the regions should be developed. And to serve the regions, well, that takes roads,” he also launched.

“It is not a battle between cities and regions,” replied Mr Nadeau-Dubois. This is not a battle between cities and suburbs. It’s a battle we all have to fight together in Quebec, wherever we live, because it’s a battle to make sure our children have a future. †

In the Parti Québécois, MEP Méganne Perry Mélançon denounced the comments of Minister Bonnardel, who “never stops making statements that reveal his ‘outdated’ vision of developing and protecting the territory of Quebec”, in his opinion.

“The difference between urban densification and the CAQ: one is not fashion, the other risks being one, his colleague Pascal Bérubé also stated. The urban densification, which is described by the Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management as a fad that interferes with a municipal dossier, should be noted. †

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