Sunday, February 4, 2007

Varennes. and farmers

I don't know if it is often publicised, but it is interesting to note that there are 20 Montréal municipalities that have applied to the Québec Agricultural Protection Council (or some name to that effect) to de-zone agricultural land for residential development.

Which surprised me only because i had no idea that agricultural land was so strongly protected in the Montréal region. Varennes is such a town. Apparently the town is going broke and needs to develop more land for tax revenue.... Um.... hmmmm..... how about a plain 'NON!'

If you ask me, what is happening in Varennes (and possibly in many of the 20 municipalities) is inevitable. Many have been saying that suburban development based on low-density residential development and low taxes is unsustainable. It's about time a community realises this, and begins to plan what they call 'smart growth.'

I just hope this becomes a wake-up call to the Québec government and those bureaucrats in MMC municipalities.


Fiona said...

Regarding competition for suburban development and agricultural land, Richmond BC (southern suburb of Vancouver) is an excellent example. Richmond is a delta island with excellent farming conditions. Roughly half the geographic area of Richmond is still agricultural and is strongly protected by Canada's federal Agricultural Land Reserve. Nonetheless, farmers are eager to quit poorly profitable farming and sell for mega-development profits. And who can blame them; I argue that you or I would do the same. However, it seems important for urban regions and their core cities to retain geographic proximity to farmland, not only to reduce energy consumption related to food preparation, but also to ensure food security in a society that continues to distance itself from the origins of the food it eats. It's interesting to see that, from Varennes to Richmond, Canada is faced with regular battles for farmland. Considering the apparently poor economic viability of farming today and the concurrent, continued expansion of suburban regions, Canada obviously needs a set of robust, incentive-laden policies and vigilant policy makers to protect the existing farmland. I don't know enough about agricultural policies to comment on the state of our current ones, but I hope they are good!

J said...

What i find interesting is the role that organic food production, and specialty food production (like wine and cheese) can help reverse this trend. Developments like wine routes and cheese routes might help keep farmers on their land. It's like adding value to the land.
I wrote a paper that addresses this a bit. I'll post it soon, i just need to find it...