July 23, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Third link | The UPA fears that good agricultural land will be lost on the south coast

Third link |  The UPA fears that good agricultural land will be lost on the south coast

(Quebec) Over the past week, farmers on the South Shore say they have received visits from real estate agents looking to buy and develop their land in anticipation of the arrival of the third Quebec-Lévis highway link.

“I call them vultures,” James Allen, president of the Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA) of Chaudière-Appalachia, said in an interview that he fears urban sprawl and the loss of prime farmland in the region.

“There were producers who told me about it; As soon as it was announced again that there was a risk of a third link, these people immediately came to see if they were for sale. It is worrying to see that,” he said.

For him, the resurrection of the third motorway link is a “surprise” – once again, as in 2018 – raising significant concerns among its members. That year, the Legault government promised a third link to the east, but changed its mind several times.

Moreover, Agriculture Minister André Lamontagne was wrong to warn farmers of what was to come. He was not present in the Prime Minister's announcement last week.

Photo by Marika Vachon, Law Press Archives

Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, André Lamontagne

“It would be interesting if we heard a little bit more about agriculture being prioritized in Quebec than it is right now, if it took up more space,” Mr. Allen said. Quebec will not lose agricultural land, arable land.

“As I recall, the UPA has been asking for zero loss of cropland for two years. Zero loss means we stop losing land so we can continue cultivating to feed Quebec,” he stressed.

Last April, the Sustainable Development Commissioner, Janic Lambert, concluded that the sustainability of Quebec's agricultural landscape is at risk. The interventions of the Ministry of Agriculture are currently insufficient to ensure the protection and development of this territory, she emphasized in her report.

Mr. According to Allen, if it absolutely wants to build a third link to the east, the Legault government should at least create a trust to protect agricultural occupations on the south coast, as it did in Montreal with the Metropolitan Express network. (REM).

“From my point of view, a city center to city center link would do very little damage to agriculture,” he said. If we want to do it there, we are sure to ask […] Agricultural Trust to Protect the Land. This is definitely one of our requests. »

Government must be coherent, says Martin Caron

Describing the situation as “worrisome”, especially due to the risk of urban sprawl, UPA General President Martin Caron emphasized that the Legault government was currently consulting on land conservation and agricultural activities.

Photo by Marika Vachon, Law Press Archives

UPA General President Martin Caron

In an interview, he called for sustainability and lamented the fact that less than 2% of Quebec's land area is considered agricultural. According to him, Quebec has the lowest ratio of hectares of agricultural land per capita (0.24 hectares/habitat) in North America.

“We need to protect our agricultural land more,” he continued, “in terms of getting, we mentioned during the consultation that the government should set an example regarding these issues.”

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