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Why we all need to get involved in land use planning


Not so long ago, communities were built around the core of a town - the school, post office, church and local businesses, which were surrounded by homes and farms. The proximity to services allowed for most people to get around on foot, which in many cases helped to create a vibrant local economy and a resilient community spirit.

How we build our communities has evolved over the years. The democratization of the automobile allowed the choice to develop less dense living environments for those who had the means. The urban sprawl that resulted has created many significant issues: the loss of natural and agricultural areas, reduced access to local services, the expansion of road infrastructure and a serious dependence on cars.

Those who choose to live in these less dense communities often don’t realize the consequences of urban sprawl, nor the fact that it is often the most vulnerable people who are generally the most affected by these consequences - people whose neighbourhoods are surrounded by highways, whose air is heavily polluted, and who have less resources to get where they need to go.

The principal vocation of land use planning should be the sustainable well-being of our communities, ensuring safe and healthy living environments for the entire population. But decisions made with regards to land use planning have evolved to focus more specifically on economic indicators, to the detriment of socio-environmental justice and well-being.

For decades, there has been a lack of government consideration and oversight with regards to urban sprawl and its serious consequences on our environment, health, safety and collective well-being, particularly for lower income communities. Too many decisions have been made in silos and we have a lot of catching up to do. It’s time to get involved!

An opportunity to get on the right track

The Quebec government held extensive consultations on land use planning for the province’s cities, regions and territories, with the intention of creating a new land use strategy for the province. Several government ministries were taking part, as well as many professional, economic and municipal associations. Public consultations was held  inviting citizens, groups and organizations to join the conversation.

Équiterre and our partners participed in the consultations to encourage policy makers to bring about systemic changes.

Let’s get a bit deeper into land use planning issues and look into the causes and consequences of urban sprawl.


3 consequences of urban sprawl


Équiterre feels strongly that we must put an end to the silo vision that continues to guide Quebec public policy on land use. Quebec’s new land use strategy must have an integrated and coherent vision for transportation, agriculture and land use planning, which takes the entire population into account.

The current national conversation is an opportunity to express our concerns and our hopes for sustainable, resilient living environments that focus on quality of life, health and social justice.

Stay tuned for more information about how to take part. We must work together to build more resilient communities and a more resilient Quebec!

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