Residents of La Prairie are going up to the barricades to protest against a warehouse project on land located in the territory of the neighboring municipality, Saint-Philippe, because they fear being inconvenienced. A situation that the mayor of La Prairie describes as “mini-Northvolt”.
“We are opposed to the project, and we are especially opposed to the use of our service road by trucks to access the site. The discontent of the population is growing and we fear ending up with a mini-Northvolt,” said Frédéric Galantai, mayor of La Prairie, in reference to citizens who are contesting the installation of a battery factory in Saint-Basile- great.
The matter is complex, because the land in question is located at the intersection of the territories of three cities. It is part of Saint-Philippe, but you have to go through La Prairie to access it, since Highway 30 represents an impassable barrier – no bridge passes over the highway to connect it to Saint-Philippe. The land is landlocked in the territory of the two neighboring municipalities.
The zoning, which allowed residential development, is in the process of being changed to “light industrial” by the Saint-Philippe municipal council. The change has already been accepted by the MRC du Roussillon on January 31, despite opposition from the mayor of La Prairie.
For what ? The owner of the land, Groupe Maison Candiac, planned the construction of a new residential district comprising 1,800 houses and apartments. But for the municipality of Saint-Philippe, it would have been difficult to provide municipal services (garbage removal, recreation, snow removal, etc.) due to difficult access.
“We therefore proposed to the owner to change the zoning to “light industrial”, especially since we need to diversify our sources of income, since 80% of our tax income comes from the residential sector,” explains Martin Lelièvre, general director of the City of Saint-Philippe.
Following the zoning change, the owner of the land plans to establish a distribution center with three or four buildings, according to the documents he presented to the municipality, continues Mr. Lelièvre.
500 jobs and frogs
The president of Groupe Maison Candiac, Maryo Lamothe, did not respond to our request for an interview, while we tried to have more details on the project.
Depending on the speed of construction, Saint-Philippe could earn tax revenues of 4 million per year, since industrial properties can be taxed three times more than residential properties, says the general director, who mentions the possible creation of 500 jobs.
The development of the land must be done while preserving the habitat of the chorus frog, this tiny frog threatened with extinction which is protected by a federal decree.
“The perimeter of the field will be 46% protected by a 100-meter buffer zone, it’s huge! », underlines Martin Lelièvre. “The vegetation will be preserved, a mound will be created as well as a cycle network. »
But in La Prairie, we don’t see things the same way. Residents in the area are preparing to protest the project, which they learned about less than two weeks ago.
“There will be noise, truck traffic, it will have a big impact on our peace and quiet,” laments Isabelle Pronovost, a resident of La Prairie for 17 years, whose backyard overlooks the targeted land. “We don’t know the height of the buildings, but it will certainly block our view. »
Faced with discontent, the La Prairie municipal council adopted a resolution to oppose the zoning change. But the decision is in the hands of Saint-Philippe.
“This project only brings major inconveniences for our citizens,” said Frédéric Galantai, mayor of La Prairie.
There could be around fifty trucks per day. This will mainly affect around a hundred families whose properties are directly linked to the project.
Frédéric Galantai, mayor of La Prairie
As trucks will have to use the service road located in La Prairie to access the future distribution center, Mr. Galantai requested legal advice to determine whether it was possible to ban trucking on this road, which would prevent any development. industrial and commercial on the site.
But according to the general director of Saint-Philippe, this is prohibited. ” There Cities and Towns Act says that a city cannot enclose another city. They have no right to prevent us from accessing our land,” he said, adding that discussions are continuing between elected officials from the two cities.
If a residential development had gone ahead there, the inconvenience would have been even greater, he notes. “With 1800 doors, it would have been like a second city, imagine the flow of traffic and the impact on the natural habitat! »
This Monday evening, Saint-Philippe is holding a public consultation on the project. As of Tuesday, the municipal council should adopt the second draft by-law on the zoning change, to make it effective.