On February 22nd, the Legacy Fund hosted Me Pierre Renaud to speak at our first webinar on law and the environment. There were over 60 persons in attendance including many Mayors and councillors and representatives of many organizations and citizens groups.
The webinar was entitled From Talk to Action: Using the Master Plan to Protect Nature. Me Renaud who is a legal expert in environmental law with the office of McCarthy Tetrault and the Mayor of the Canton of Lochaber-Partie-Ouest gave a very engaging presentation starting with the history of the global movement for sustainable development and how it can translate into urban policies and regulations.
He then emphasized that elected officials have to have the political will to protect and preserve natural spaces. One of his major recommendations is to shield the elected officials from undue influence by adopting strict ethical guidelines as they did in his council. Next, he explained how the Master Plan is the guiding tool that orients all the actions and future development of the municipal territory, and he outlined all the enabling legislation which allows the town council to adopt zoning rules and by-laws to protect natural spaces in the private and public domain. You can read the Master Plan for his town here. Plan d’urbanisme Lochaber-Ouest. It is unique in Quebec as can be easily seen just by reading the preamble to the resolution by which it was adopted in September 2020. Here is a short extract:
CONSIDÉRANT que le Canton de Lochaber-Partie-Ouest fait sienne la définition de l’article 2 de la Loi sur le développement durable qui édicte que « le développement durable s’entend d’un développement qui répond aux besoins du présent sans compromettre la capacité des générations futures à répondre aux leurs…»;
CONSIDÉRANT que l’article 6 de la Loi sur le développement durable, édicte les seize principes du développement durable que le Canton prend en compte systématiquement dans le cadre de ses différentes actions;
In his presentation, Me Renaud gave a full summary of all legal tools available in the Quebec legislation which could allow Cities and Towns to protect natural spaces on their territory through the Master Plan and all its supporting regulations. In particular he referred to articles 113 and 115 of the Land use planning Act A-19.1 – Act respecting land use planning and development (gouv.qc.ca) These articles allow towns and villages to adopt rules that promote sustainable development on the private and public domain. More particularly he recommends using these articles to create safe setbacks in zones that are deemed not buildable such as wetlands and floodplains or along highways and railway corridors. In fact, it is highly recommended for all mayors and councils who want to protect natural spaces to see if these spaces are lying within the safe setback which could technically be protected by art. 113 (16)
(16) to regulate or prohibit all or certain land uses, structures or works, taking into account the topography of the landsite, the proximity of a stream or lake, the danger of flood, rockfall, landslide or other disaster, or any other factor specific to the nature of a place which may be taken into consideration for reasons of public safety or of environmental protection regarding riverbanks and lakeshores, littoral zones or floodplains;
His talk was very much appreciated by all in attendance and was truly an inspiration for all elected officials and citizens in attendance.
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