Implementation plan unveiled for Québec’s National Policy on Architecture and Land-Use Planning

The Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ms. Andrée Laforest, and the Minister of Culture and Communications, Mr. Mathieu Lacombe, recently unveiled an implementation plan for Québec's National Policy on Architecture and Land-Use Planning.

Left to right: Andrée Laforest, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Mathieu Lacombe, Minister of Culture and Communications. (Photo credit: Assemblée nationale du Québec)

The Québec Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ms. Andrée Laforest, and the Minister of Culture and Communications, Mr. Mathieu Lacombe, recently unveiled the 2023-2027 implementation plan for the province’s National Policy on Architecture and Land-Use Planning with a budget of $360.4 million.

Out of the 30 concrete measures and actions to be implemented by the government, the core interventions of the policy include the publication of new government guidelines and directions in land use planning in 2024 which will shape the planning of territories for municipalities, regional county municipalities (RCMs), and metropolitan communities, aligning with the objectives of the policy and addressing current development issues.

The policy also includes ongoing consultations on the preliminary document, which started on May 8 and will continue until Aug. 31. These consultations will contribute to a partnership approach and a better understanding of the unique characteristics of different territories.

An Act adopted on June 1, 2023, will also modernize land use planning practices. This will enable municipalities to better plan their development and effectively respond to the challenges facing Québec today and in the future. This significant transformation is the first major overhaul of the law in over 40 years, with previous changes being made for specific issues like flood-prone areas and the protection of built heritage.

In addition to this, it includes the introduction of a monitoring system with indicators and targets to assess the achievement of land use planning objectives. This system will enable the measurement of planning decisions’ results and allow adjustments to the development framework for optimal performance and meeting societal challenges. The National Network of Observatories for Sustainable Territorial Planning and Development will support the deployment of the system in regional county municipalities (MRCs).

Prioritizing the consideration of government project spinoffs in land use planning and urban planning is also included in the policy. Departments and agencies will review their projects based on the policy’s orientations and objectives, particularly in terms of the location of state equipment and infrastructure. The aim is to ensure that government projects contribute fully to the quality and vitality of living environments.

Along with the above, the establishment of the Office for the Promotion of Architecture, which will play a central role in raising architectural quality in Québec, is also included in the policy. This office will collaborate with stakeholders, particularly the municipal sector and the population, to foster a shared vision of architecture that garners support and represents a source of pride. The regulatory framework will be modernized to create conditions conducive to the development of innovative and creative architecture, relying on expertise and talent. A comprehensive knowledge of the state’s heritage real estate inventory will be developed to effectively plan and prioritize asset maintenance for optimal and sustainable management.

Lastly, the implementation plan includes specific allocations from the budget such as $84.3 million, announced in Budget 2023-2024, which will support various initiatives, including the deployment of the land use planning monitoring system ($17.4 million), updating the land use and development plans of regional county municipalities (RCMs) ($43.7 million), the creation of green and blue networks ($16.5 million), and the establishment of the Office for the Promotion of Architecture ($6.7 million).

Additionally, the plan includes investments totaling $239.4 million which will support the development and implementation of climate plans by municipal organizations. These investments come from the Electrification and Climate Change Fund, as well as the budgets of the relevant ministries.