The 65 golf courses in Greater Montreal represent 5,677 hectares, according to the CMM.
The Montreal Metropolitan Community (CMM) adopted an interim control by-law (ICR) on Thursday in order to protect certain golf courses on its territory that are coveted for real estate development.
The CMM has identified six sectors that will henceforth be protected under this by-law, namely the Beloeil golf club, the former golf clubs of Rosemère, Candiac, Chambly, Mascouche and Le Boisé in Terrebonne.
These lands, which are under pressure for residential, commercial or industrial development, require “special attention”, according to the CMM. Some of them already host condominium complexes. All located in the urban perimeter, they total an area of 284 hectares.
The interim control by-law will have the function of temporarily freezing activities in the identified sectors – by prohibiting, for example, any change in zoning – while the CMM decides on the future of these large green spaces within the framework of its next Metropolitan Land Use and Development Plan (PMAD). This plan will expire in 2023.
Golf courses that have ceased or will cease to host the practice of golf represent significant areas for the creation of green spaces and for ecological restoration, stipulates the regulation.
Recall that the CMM, which brings together 82 municipalities, is committed to achieving an area of 17% natural environments by 2031. According to the Mayor of Montreal and President of the Executive Committee of the CMM, Valérie Plante , the adoption of this regulation will “exceed” this objective.
Since 2010, 12 golf clubs located in the CMM territory have closed, or one in five. Most of the land sold has given way to real estate projects. The 65 lots that remain represent 5,677 hectares, or 1.5% of the area of Greater Montreal, according to the CMM.
Like the six courses covered by the settlement, other golf courses may in turn be included as part of a “second phase”, said CMM general manager Massimo Iezzoni . MWC has conducted a preliminary analysis, he explained. She knows the golf courses [on her territory] and their characteristics well, which will allow her to tour the municipalities to see if they too want to have a moratorium.
To determine which golf courses would be included in the settlement, MWC first relied on the willingness of cities to protect these green spaces, Iezzoni continued. Environmental characterization studies were also conducted to determine the reforestation potential of these lands.
“We are in the process of updating the PMAD, and the law allows us to make a moratorium, so it is a time to reflection. »
— Massimo Iezzoni, Director General of the Montreal Metropolitan Community
But time will not solve everything. One of the essential conditions for the preservation of these spaces is the revision of the Expropriation Law, according to Mr. Iezzoni. The reform of this law, which is considered “obsolete” by elected officials and citizens, has been the subject of requests from the CMM for a long time.
The amendment of this law is a necessity in order to give municipalities very concrete leverage to facilitate the acquisition of these lands, insisted Valérie Plante.
Prime Minister François Legault has already committed to seeing her again during a future term.
The CMM has also asked the Quebec government for an envelope of $100 million to finance its Green and Blue Trame program, which helps municipalities buy back land to convert it into natural spaces.
With this RCI, which will soon be supported by a reform of the Expropriation Act promised by the Government of Quebec, the municipalities will be much better equipped to supervise and revalorize the green spaces threatened by real estate developments, rejoiced the mayor of Terrebonne, Mathieu Traversy.
Six former golf courses in the Montreal region will be protected against real estate development. The Metropolitan Community of Montreal has adopted a new regulation to allow cities to preserve, but also to redevelop these green spaces which are increasingly rare. A report by Olivier Bachand.
The Coalition of Golf Courses in Transition, which had expressed concern about the limited scope of the ROI before its adoption, nevertheless welcomed the CMM's desire to add sites to its regulations.
Some will be disappointed and worried to see that their golf course or former golf course does not benefit from this protection, reacted its spokesperson, Catherine Vallée. She fears that developers and municipalities will shift into high gear on land excluded from the RCI, thus inflating their price.
During the council meeting, Ms. Vallée sought to know what the CMM intended to do to protect these golf courses from real estate speculation. However, she did not get an answer to her question. We would like them to follow up on whether there are any consequences of this first ROI on the golf courses excluded from the settlement, she explained.
The Coalition wishes to sit down with the elected officials in order to participate in the inclusion of several other golf courses during this second phase – the date of which is unknown. was not specified.
Notable RCI absentees include the Meadowbrook Golf Club in Montreal and the Laval-sur-le-Lac, Islesmere and Cardinal Golf Clubs in Laval West.
The mayor of Laval and vice-president of the CMM executive committee, Stéphane Boyer, was not present at the council meeting on Thursday.
According to Jonathan Tremblay, spokesperson for the Parc Sentiers des bois movement, which campaigns for the protection of golf courses in Laval Ouest, the City of Laval has missed the boat […].
“There is no rush. [We must] take the time to carry out analyses, studies that justify the development of these places. »
— Jonathan Tremblay, spokesperson for the Parc Sentiers des bois movement
Shortly before the adoption of the by-law, Yannick Langlois, member of the council of the City of Laval, pointed out that the municipal administration was working on the regulatory overhaul of the urban planning code. The intention is to protect golf courses as much as possible, around 50%, he said. We want to allow the development of these large lots, but we want to do so while preserving nature.
The interim control by-law still has to be approved by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and of the Housing. The latter also approved Thursday the entry into force of a previous RCI, adopted on April 28 by the CMM, to protect 53,435 hectares of natural environments, or 22.3% of Greater Montreal.