The city of Beauceville destroyed wetlands without a permit to expand its industrial park and illegally paid an industrial development company more than $2 million.
These are the conclusions of an investigation report by the Commission Municipal du Québec (CMQ).1 It was made public on Monday.
It wants to expand its industrial park following the 2019 floods2Beauceville last spring waived the approvals and assessments needed to acquire land in an agricultural zone “over several hectares.”
The report also stresses that while wetlands contribute to reducing flood risk, the lack of serious assessment of the effects of wetland destruction is “particularly worrying”.
In Quebec, “Wetlands, the general principle is that we want to keep them because we’ve already lost so many of them everywhere,” laments biologist Kim Marino. It has been revealed that although permission has been granted and funds have been provided to compensate for the destruction of wetlands, in practice, the projects have not materialised. Pres3.
Beauceville exposes itself to legal proceedings and administrative and penal sanctions. Penalty for violation Environmental Quality Act From a few thousand to a few million dollars.
The city went to “significant expenditure of public funds” for an “uncertain” project, we note.
The city purchased three lots and signed a commitment to purchase a fourth at a total cost of about $850,000.
The presence of wetlands was known but “steps in the progress of the industrial park expansion project were not respected in order to speed up the process,” the report said.
The mayor charged
The CMQ specifically accuses Mayor François Veilleux and Director General Serge Vallee of “reprehensible acts”. The mayor, absent for health reasons, did not respond to an interview request Pres. The General Manager presided Pres To Deputy Mayor Patrick Mathieu, who declined to answer our questions.
“I collaborated on the report, but I don’t have all the details of the report, so I read it, I skimmed it, I read it,” Mr. Mathew said. “In a very short time, the city will issue comments or answer questions in the form of a conference,” he assured.
In addition, CMQ is aware of the existence of a grant program for residential, commercial and industrial construction and renovation that allows owners to reclaim property taxes. Another program reimburses new commercial tenants a portion of the cost of rent.
The city has contributed more than $2 million under these programs since 2016, which are administered by the Beauceville Industrial Development Corporation (CDIB).
These payments are “illegal,” CMQ determined, because no statute authorizes them, strictly limiting financial aid to companies through cities.
The municipal council decided on October 3 to stop “all financial transfers related to new contracts” to the CDIB. But the report underscored that “if grants are awarded to projects in progress by 2026, the total could reach $3.7 million,” which recommends immediate completion.
CMQ also recommends that Beuseville follow the appropriate procedures for its industrial park expansion plan and submit the necessary authorization requests.
“Follow-up of proper actions” shall be done by 1R May 2023.
- From $15,000 to $3,000,000
- Penalty issued Environmental Quality Act For legal persons carrying out certain projects without authorisation, as Beuseville did.
Source: Environmental Quality ActSection 115.31.