MONTRÉAL, June 14, 2012 /CNW/ - Quebec needs to develop a "Plan Sud"
that focuses on making Greater Montréal the economic hub it should be,
according to a Conference Board of Canada publication issued to
coincide with Les Rendez-vous IDU Québec, a conference from the Urban
Development Institute of Quebec held today in Montréal.
"Quebec has articulated an economic development strategy, Plan Nord, for
its northern regions, which is appropriate given the strong demand and
high prices for commodities," said Mario Lefebvre, Director, Centre for Municipal Studies, and author of the publication. "But the time has also come for Quebec
to adopt a 'Plan Sud' for the Greater Montréal area. The economies of
Quebec and Canada will never realize their full potential if Montréal
In a 2006 report, The Conference Board of Canada concluded that economic growth in the
country's "hub" cities generates growth spurts in their surrounding
communities and throughout their respective provinces. The Montréal
census metropolitan area is this driving force in Quebec.
However, Montréal is no longer firing on all cylinders—at least not when
compared with hub cities in other Canadian provinces. From 1987 to
2011, the Montréal census metropolitan area's average annual economic
growth was only 1.8 per cent, compared with 2.4 per cent for Canada as
The briefing released today, A "Plan Sud" to Make Montréal the Hub City It Should Be, identifies seven major elements that should be part of a Plan Sud:
restoring municipal financial health, attracting and integrating
immigrants, encouraging investment, ensuring transparent and responsive
governance, supporting industrial clusters, marketing innovative
research and products, integrating regional development.
Municipal Financial Health
Restoring Montréal's financial health must be the first ingredient of a
Plan Sud. Several Conference Board reports have shown that Canadian
municipalities currently are not able to both provide all the services
they should and fund the infrastructure they need to operate. In this
environment, Canada's large cities, such as Montréal, cannot be engines
of economic growth.
In 2008, the Conference Board formulated a three-pronged approach to
address municipalities' fiscal imbalances: upload responsibilities to higher levels of government (or be provided
with revenues to assume downloaded responsibilities); access a revenue
source, such as a sales tax, that grows with the economy; and make
greater use of available financial tools, such as borrowing and user
The future prosperity of Canada and Quebec depends on immigration.
Although Montréal attracts a high proportion of immigrants to Canada,
many choose not to stay. Support from the federal and provincial
governments is needed to help Montréal attract, retain, and integrate
Investment in public infrastructure plays a crucial role in
strengthening long-term competitiveness and economic performance. And
in an economic environment characterized by globalization and a strong
Canadian dollar, Montréal businesses that want to remain competitive
will need to increase their capital spending as well. A strategic plan
to stimulate foreign direct investment is also in order.
Canada's municipalities (including Montréal) need to rethink their
governance model. According to a survey by Montréal International, the
average approval time for land sales, urban development projects,
zoning changes, or public consultations in Montréal is 12 months, a
period that could potentially jeopardize some investment projects.
The Montréal census metropolitan area contains a number of industrial
clusters, such as: aerospace, life sciences, information and
communications technology, culture, financial services, and clean
technology. Rather than adding to the existing list of clusters,
incentives should be focused on those that exist, by prioritizing
strategic investments, tax incentives (such as tax credits), and
cooperation with universities to train a specialized workforce.
Although much original research has been carried out in the Greater
Montréal area's universities, this research does not seem to have been
accompanied by a marketing effort comparable to that deployed in other
major urban centres around the world. This may in part explain the
relatively low number of patents registered annually in Montréal.
Better marketing and commercialization of new ideas is essential.
A master plan is needed to guide an integrated approach for initiatives
to improve Montréal's economic health, given that such initiatives
often focus only on neighbourhoods. For Montréal to become a
flourishing metropolis, policies need to be part of an overall plan.
The publication is publicly available at www.e-library.ca.
SOURCE CONFERENCE BOARD OF CANADA
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