Saint-Lin-Laurentians | The mayor who stopped development

The clash between mayors and transport minister François Bonnardel, for whom densification is “fashion”, could seem like a battle between city dwellers who want to strengthen the heart of cities and rural dwellers moving away to gain access to a bungalow. However, this is not the case. Here’s the example of a Northern Crown suburb mayor who said no to “insane growth.”

Posted at 5:00 am

Susan Kolpron

Susan Kolpron
The press

Saint-Lin-Laurentides is the perfect example of what not to do in zoning: build, build, build, expand, expand, expand… But the new mayor has little news: it’s over.

“Do we intend to move further into agricultural land to build homes and businesses? The answer is no,” says Mathieu Maisonneuve.

“The race for unbridled growth is over in Saint-Lin-Laurentides,” he swears.

The mayor of the village-turned-suburb belongs to the same trend as its new city guard The press described the clashes with the CAQ on Monday.

A former banker, Mr Maisonneuve was a local councilor for 12 years before being elected leader of the city in November 2021, where he was born and raised and where he still resides 39 years later. Saint-Lin-Laurentides is not one of the Laurentians, contrary to what the name might suggest. It is a suburb of Lanaudière, near Mascouche.


INFOGRAPHIC THE PRESS

  • Hundreds of bungalows have grown in the community in recent years and several projects are announced.  But since December, with a few exceptions, all new residential construction has been banned there.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    Hundreds of bungalows have grown in the community in recent years and several projects are announced. But since December, with a few exceptions, all new residential construction has been banned there.

  • Hundreds of bungalows have grown in the community in recent years and several projects are announced.  But since December, with a few exceptions, all new residential construction has been banned there.

    PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

    Hundreds of bungalows have grown in the community in recent years and several projects are announced. But since December, with a few exceptions, all new residential construction has been banned there.

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long in above 3 of Quebec’s fastest growing cities has nearly 25,000 residents, up 8,000 from 10 years ago.

However, if Mr Maisonneuve agreed with the development vision of his predecessor Patrick Massé, elected Prefect of the MRC de Montcalm in the last local elections, he no longer does so.

“The former mayor made decisions according to the context of the time,” he explains in an interview The press, opposite the Ruisseau elementary school, in the heart of a brand new district. “The situation is changing. The mayors of the MRC have largely changed in the last election. A new movement has begun. »

The “least worst”

Big signs announcing real estate projects can be seen all over the small town, where 70% of the land is used for agriculture. Hundreds of bungalows have sprung up on treeless streets bordering old townhouses. But since December, a “historic” decision has banned all new housing construction with exceptions. The reason: the lack of drinking water.

“We had a choice between the worst and the least worst,” sums up Mathieu Maisonneuve.

We chose the least bad thing because to continue like this we would hit a wall at the development rate we had. It was the responsible decision to avoid people turning on the tap and it not flowing.

Mathieu Maisonneuve, Mayor of Saint-Lin-Laurentides

Saint-Lin predicts that water issues will be a thing of the past for “existing citizens” by fall 2023. However, it may take longer to finally fix the problem.


PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

Saint-Lin–Laurentides suffers from traffic congestion.

However, water is not the only problem of overdevelopment. There is another: traffic. The roads that lead to Saint-Lin, the 158, the 335 and the 339, have remained the same for 50 years, but the town center has tripled in size. Result: “We’re suffocating! said the mayor.

Suzanne Pagé-Imbeault, mother of six, knows something about it. Five years ago, she left the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighborhood to settle in Saint-Lin. From the tenant she became the owner. “It’s quiet here,” she said.


PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

Suzanne Pagé-Imbeault

Apart from the cars, it’s much less dangerous than in the city.

Suzanne Pagé-Imbeault, resident

An ecological debt

The mayor realizes that not everything is perfect.

“Did we do it like in the movie? field of dreamswith Kevin Costner: Build it and they will come ? he throws. The answer is no because local taxation makes it very difficult to build infrastructure before people arrive. We don’t have the money.

“Today we have to catch up. »

Mr. Maisonneuve adds that Saint-Lin-Laurentides “without repeating the past” has “an ecological debt to pay”. “I think it will be important to protect certain areas to ensure there is no development. »

In five years, the proportion of natural environments has dropped from 19% to 15%.

The newly elected officials want to review the development plan. They asked the Department of Local Affairs to delay the submission of their project by a year to have time “to ask the right questions”. “It’s not vague, the mayor assures. It’s starting to get clearer. We want responsible development combined with the ability to provide resources. »


PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

Around 70% of the commune’s territory is agricultural. The mayor wants organic change in the industry.

“Our real mission is to change the rules of the game,” he continues, dreaming of organic farms.

“Cities have won awards in the past for developing the most houses. It has changed. Today it is clear that it was a mistake. Twenty years ago, some decisions were made that we have to correct today. But I want people to look at us in 20 years and say, “You changed the world for the better.”

Mr Maisonneuve has another concern: education. Saint-Lin has seven primary schools but not a single secondary school. Young people have to go to Sainte-Julienne, 19 km away, or to Saint-Roch-de-l’Achigan, 14 km away, to continue their studies. However, two cities less populated than his.

“Statistically, we are in the bottom in the ranking of academic success,” he admits. This is killing me. If we want to change something for the future, the best thing we can do is to give young people a good education. I think that goes through secondary school. »

The new regional guard

Sébastien Marcil, 36, mayor of Saint-Roch-de-l’Achigan, also belongs to the new generation of elected municipal officials. “The age in the region has become significantly younger,” he notes. Mathieu Traversy in Terrebonne, Guillaume Tremblay in Mascouche, Steve Plante in L’Épiphanie, Mathieu Maisonneuve in Saint-Lin, I in Saint-Roch. There is a kind of bend that is made quietly. But unlike others, Saint-Roch-de-l’Achigan has chosen to maintain its size as a small town. Mr. Marcil, who has lived there for five years, recalls that this community of 5,000 near Highway 25 is a model in terms of development. “Development, says Sébastien Marcil, starts somewhere and ends somewhere. »

Learn more

  • 36 years
    Average age in Saint-Lin-Laurentides

    42.9 years old
    Median age across Quebec

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