Agriculture | Longueuil wants to increase its cultivated areas

While our food pantry is under pressure from urbanization, Mayor Catherine Fournier wants to increase the surface area of ​​cultivated land in the Longueuil agglomeration.

In its sights: 180 hectares of fallow land located in Saint-Hubert and Brossard which cannot be returned to cultivation due to a moratorium decreed 20 years ago to protect waterways from phosphorus pollution, a fertilizer from slurry. To achieve this, she is asking Quebec to overhaul its Agricultural Operations Regulations (REA).

Since 2004, it has been prohibited to expand cultivated areas in more than 557 municipalities – including those in the Longueuil agglomeration – where the watersheds are considered to be too degraded.

“There is still an element of vigilance to keep in mind on the part of the Quebec government, but at the same time, if we keep the status quo, [on perd] quite a lot of land which has incredible potential to feed the local population with market gardening,” declared the mayor on the sidelines of a press conference at city hall, where she presented the new development plan for the area. agricultural (PDZA) of the agglomeration of Longueuil.

Longueuil has 9,141 hectares of protected agricultural land, or 32% of its territory. About half of the permanent agricultural area is currently operated by 47 farms. A little more than 2000 hectares are municipal property.

We know that we are currently experiencing a major crisis in agriculture and what producers tell us is that all actions to promote re-cultivation are actions that help farmers in Quebec.

Catherine Fournier, mayor of Longueuil

The majority of hectares identified for recultivation are municipal property. With such legislative relaxation, Mayor Fournier would like to promote local market gardening on land considered to be very fertile.


A large concentration of priority plots identified for recultivation is located in the Chemin Chambly sector, in Saint-Hubert.

All land that was fallow before the adoption of the moratorium must remain so. However, the REA does not cover the cultivation of blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, trees and vines.

Eutrophied rivers

Two large watersheds cross the agglomeration: that of the Châteauguay River and that of the Richelieu River. The territory has 153.4 km of watercourses, 62% of which are located in agricultural zones.

The REA aims to protect the environment from sources of pollution resulting from agricultural practices.

A watershed is considered to be degraded when the median concentration of total phosphorus at the mouth exceeds 0.030 mg per liter of water, i.e. the eutrophication criterion.

The PDZA made public yesterday by the agglomeration of Longueuil reports an analysis of four watercourses carried out in 2019 by the watershed organization COVABAR which shows that three of them exceeded this standard.

With relaxation, would there be criteria to avoid increasing pollution of waterways?

“It will be the role of the government to seek balance there, to relax the regulations while ensuring that natural environments are protected, that best practices are adopted because best practices exist, things have changed for 20 years. Is the status quo the solution, no, but it clearly needs to be well regulated so that we don’t go to the other extreme,” she replied.

Non-compliant riparian strips

The PDZA also reveals the results of a survey of 108 kilometers of riparian strips in agricultural areas. These buffer zones protect waterways against the leaching of pesticides and fertilizers. Result: 53 kilometers do not comply with provincial regulations.

Since 1987, the Environmental Quality Act requires the conservation of a minimum strip of 3 m from the high water line. If this distance does not reach the edge of the precipice, a minimum of 1 m of embankment must be maintained at the end of the field.

“We are going to increase our regulations regarding riparian areas,” the mayor mentioned at a press conference, without however specifying in what way.

The agglomeration of Longueuil also aims to regroup small agricultural lots in Saint-Hubert that were divided up before the municipal mergers.

Speculators have got their hands on certain lands in the hope that we can [éventuellement y faire] residential and real estate development. Obviously, this is out of the question, so we want to support the consolidation of certain lands when possible.

Catherine Fournier, mayor of Longueuil

Already, the City of Longueuil has been able to acquire 688 lots due to non-payment of municipal taxes. “There are still 1,182 lots to be consolidated, which represents a little less than 300 hectares,” underlined the mayor.

Called to react, the Government of Quebec sent us a joint written statement from the Minister of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks, Benoit Charrette and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, André Lamontagne.

“Agricultural practices and knowledge have evolved significantly since the establishment of the moratorium on cultivated areas 20 years ago. It is for this reason in particular that it was announced that the REA would be reviewed. The current project is an opportunity to adapt by making room for best agro-environmental practices while ensuring a better state of health of ecosystems. »

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