UPA fighting urban sprawl
The Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) is worried about the installation of a terminal station for the Reseau electrique metropolitain (REM) in an agricultural zone at the intersection of autoroutes 10 and the 30, on the South Shore of Montreal.
Reading the report presented by the promoter, only the quadrants of the crossroads seem to have been considered. “It is deplorable that no other space in the white zone was considered. The autoroute 30 must serve as a physical barrier to urban sprawl. Less than ten years after it was finished, at the first opportunity, it is proposed to cross this intersection,” said the president of the UPA Monteregie, Christian St-Jacques.
Besides the roughly thirty hectares sacrificed, this terminal station in an agricultural zone brings with it the risk of more urban sprawl, which is contrary to the goal of decreasing vehicle traffic and the problems that come with it. The land around it will be bought by speculators who will let it lie fallow. Then it would seem like a housing project would be just right on those abandoned fields; Deja-vu.
“Once again, we have conditions to stop the urban sprawl. This fear has been shared with the promoters. We must promote a global vision of the development of the territory that ensures that cities become denser, the improvement of public transport and the protection of all green spaces, including agricultural land. This is why this terminal station cannot be installed in a green zone,” said the general president of the UPA, Marcel Groleau, adding that no other information has been divulged concerning the study of any other sites.
According to the UPA, it is imperative that the BAPE comes out against what has been asked by the promoter, who hopes to disregard the competency of the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Quebec (CPTAQ). It is the role of the CPTAQ to determine if there are appropriate areas outside of the agricultural zone and they can reject a demand for this one reason. Local farmers are still busy harvesting their feed for the year.
The pace out on the farm hasn’t slowed down yet for local dairy and beef producers. There is still more haying to do and the corn and soya crops, grown primarily by the dairy farmers, are still to be harvested. Oats, barley and wheat have been harvested. “We were able to seed our oats early in the spring because it was warmer and drier than usual. The oats and wheat crops in the area were combined early and we got quite a really good crop of oats and a lot of straw,” said beef producer Wendell Conner, of Hatley Township.
Although the weather during the summer was good for cutting hay, it wasn’t the best for an abundant hay crop. The dairy producers depend on good growth for their second hay cut which they need to harvest when the protein content of the hay is at its highest. “We had a lot of dry days in a row and it was wicked hot. It’s been so dry that the second cut of hay for the dairy men has not been so good. There is still more second cut hay to do,” said Mr. Conner.
Mr. Conner was happy to have sent his beef calves to the auction in the spring, while the prices were still good. “We got a good price for our calves in May. The prices for beef cows had been pretty good, until recently, then the prices came down. Farmers are now getting half of what they were getting in 2015,” he said. In 2015 a good steer calf could sell for $2000 at the auction, while now the same animal sells for between $1,000 and $1,100. “There were a lot of beef farmers who stuck it out over the years when the prices were low, but then the good prices didn’t stay up long enough. I think there will be quite a few beef farmers who will quit,” said Mr. Conner.