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With highway open, focus shifts to development

That was the easy part.

With Highway 30 now officially open, after decades of delays, the focus of the region will be on how to develop or to resist developing the acres of land that is now suddenly accessible to motorists and trucks.

“Finally, we have the necessary infrastructure to continue to develop our local economy,” said Robert Sauvé, the prefect for the regional government, MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges.

Sauvé said the highway will allow the region to become a strategic hub for logistical industries. He envisions the region becoming home to high-tech warehousing and distribution companies. It would also be home to assembly plants that would bring in goods from all over the world to be put together as a final product. The regional authorities estimate between 12,000 and 15,000 jobs could be created through these companies.

Sauvé said, however, this dream is still far off, because authorities have very little land around the new highway to designate to this vocation. The regional bodies will have to negotiate with the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec in order to get permission to dezone certain lands.

“Right now, we’re working to come up with a long-term strategy for development,” Sauvé said. “Then, we’ll have a conversation with the CPTAQ.”

Sauvé said some businesses have already expressed interest in establishing in the area.

But Marie Malavoy, the minister responsible for the Montérégie region, said there won’t be an automatic green light given to new industries that want to build on existing farmland.

“The highway will attract businesses,” she said. “But the Montérégie region has an agricultural vocation, and that vocation will remain. It’s just that products will be able to be transported more efficiently.”

She said the authorities will have to take into account the region’s agricultural heritage as it considers new development along the highway.

jmagder@montrealgazette.com
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