This text is taken from the Courrier de la Planète of 22 November 2022. To subscribe, click here.
The Assomption Sud–Longue-Pointe sector in Montreal will not be subject to a Health Impact Assessment (VIS), as requested by doctors, public health specialists and environmentalists in September. The major industrial project it is preparing is “too advanced,” says the Montreal Regional Department of Public Health (DRSP).
The project in question is the Ray-Mont Logistiques intermodal container transshipment platform. In early November, Quebec greenlighted this initiative to move up to 1,500 containers a day and store up to 5,000 heat islands in the neighborhood.
“An SIA must be carried out upstream of a project and, in this case, the project has already been accepted,” explains Jean Nicolas Aubé, spokesman for the regional department of public health. The EIS must be completed ahead of the “decision making” and “implementation” of proposals that may affect the health of an area’s residents, he said.
“We would have liked it to happen, but we understand that the Ray-Mont Logistiques project is too advanced,” says Claudel Pétrin-Desrosiers, president of the Quebec Association of Doctors for the Environment, who was one of the signatories of the request sent to authorities at the end of September. “Too bad we’re getting to a point where it’s too late [pour une telle analyse]adds. […] but it’s not too late to try to improve the project. »
East Island Revitalization
Health impact assessments integrate different parameters – such as air pollution, heat islands, noise, access to nature, active transport possibilities – that influence the health of populations. They evaluate the development impact of an industry as a whole. Reports signed by DRSPs also contain recommendations.
The DRSP thus closes the door to an analysis relating in particular to the Assomption Sud–Longue-Pointe sector, but, by answering the questions of the Mustopens the door to another option: it will evaluate the possibility, with its partners, of carrying out a SIA on the development of the east Montreal area as a whole.
Indeed, the eastern part of the island is preparing for a major transformation. Different levels of government want to exploit the large lands, once used for the petrochemical industry, to create an “innovative and sustainable economic hub”. At the same time, a project for a marine kerosene terminal, along with a new section of pipeline, is sparking opposition in East Montreal, particularly because of the risks it could pose to public safety.
The Dd Pétrin-Desrosiers welcomes with “great enthusiasm” the possibility, raised by public health, of carrying out a HIA on the entire eastern part of Montreal. “The population is exposed to higher environmental health risks than elsewhere on the island,” he says.
A cumulative environmental analysis
East Montreal is also a “good candidate” for a Regional Environmental Assessment (ERA), recalls Anne-Sophie Doré, attorney at the Quebec Center for Environmental Law.
This type of analysis, which does not yet exist in Quebec law, would make it possible to better consider the cumulative environmental impact of the various industrial development projects in a region. It would provide public decision-makers with information on the sensitivities and particularities of ecosystems and natural environments. Authorities could then make more environmentally informed decisions.
mAnd Doré is trying to persuade the government to create the EERs as part of its national architecture and land use planning policy, for which an implementation plan will be published this winter. He thinks the Assomption Sud–Longue-Pointe sector could serve as a pilot project for this new approach, which is not so alien to Quebec’s existing legislation.
The entire eastern part of Montreal could then be subject to a first ERA in an appropriate form. “Now is the perfect time to gain knowledge about this industry in order to minimize the negative impacts of future projects,” says Mr.And Golden.