Technopole Angus demonstrates the successful urban renewal of a former industrial site in Montreal, Canada based on sustainable development and social economy and commitment.
Historically, the Shops Angus industrial complex was the economic heart of the Rosemont neighborhood. However, in the early 1990s, the deindustrialization of Montreal caused high unemployment rates across the city, particularly in Rosemont, and Shops Angus ceased operating in 1992. To address the issues resulting from the closure, the city government embarked on a holistic approach that focused on the needs and aspirations of local residents to redevelop the site.
This case study was contributed from the UCLG Learning Team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Background and objectives
Located in the Eastern Montreal district of Rosemont, Shops Angus was an industrial complex dedicated to railcar manufacturing and repairs of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Built in 1904 on a 4.7hectare site at the junction of two railway lines of the Quebec railway network, it became the second largest industrial complex in North America with the number of employees reaching 12,000 during the Second World War.
In the 1950s the decline of the Shops Angus industrial complex began as other modes of transport such as motor cars and planes began to compete with the rail way system. This loss of business to the railway industry led to the first partial closure of the complex in 1970, when the passenger transport component ceased operations. Further reductions of operations continued and led to the complete closure of the complex in 1992. The two most significant consequences of closure were a dramatic increase in unemployment and a vacant industrial lot with contaminated land.
Initial efforts to redevelop the urban brownfield were undertaken in the 1970s after the partial closure of the Complex. The first plan involved the construction of affordable housing together with commercial usage was only partly realized as residents rejected the construction of a shopping center on the site. In the early 1990s the construction of apartments was proposed, however the community wanted a redevelopment project that would create on-going jobs in the neighborhood. The city government agreed with the concerns of the residents and this led to the development of the Technopole Angus project.
In 1994, the Angus Development Corporation (Société de Développement Angus – SDA), a social economy enterprise functioning as a non-profit organization was established. The corporation purchased the vacant land (580,000 square feet) and together with the local community formulated an urban regeneration plan. The plan aimed for a mix of commercial and residential usage to provide a high quality of life for workers and residents. As a result, there are now 13 certified buildings on the site, making Technopole Angus the second largest responsible construction project in Canada.
Moreover, the development of transportation and waste management plans were two key measures to reduce the environmental footprint of the project. The plans included recycling, composting and a range of active and public transportation options.
The social economy pillar of the project led to the construction of the “Carrefour de l’économie sociale Angus”. This 33,000 square feet facility, completed in 2005, is occupied by social enterprises that provide services to Technopole workers, such as a day care center, a cafeteria, rooms for meetings and events, catering and more. Managed by “le Groupe Part”, the Carrefour is based on a co-owned commercial building that makes it easier to secure funding and provide a solid foundation for long-term growth.
The community of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie played a vital part in the re-development project, which grew out of a grassroots campaign for a business park to revitalize the industrial ruins of Angus Shops. From the outset, establishing positive relationships with community residents was a priority for the “SDA” Development Corporation. Subsequently space was provided for social projects, ranging from local community service centre (CLSC - Centre Local de Services Communautaires) to a medical center. Regular public meetings are held to ensure that the Technopole Angus remains accountable to the community and to consult residents on new projects. In addition, neighborhood community groups can use the Locoshop for free to organize fundraising events and meetings. This effort to integrate the local community at an early stage of the development process and to build on the long tradition of the complex in the neighborhood highlights the social commitment of the SDA Development Corporation.
Financing and resources
The Quebec and the Canadian National Government agreed to stage the repayment of loans after the development phases.
Results and impacts
Since the foundation of the SDA in 1994, half of the proposed site developments have been completed. This includes 13 eco-friendly buildings, 56 companies, institutions and organizations have relocated to Angus Technopole that comprises 2,500 workers in various growth market sectors. Expressed in economic terms, the first phase of redevelopment created property value equal to 77 million Canadian dollars.
Significant results have been achieved in terms of sustainability. The Locoshop Angus building constructed in 2000, is the first green industrial building in Canada. In 2006, Technopole Angus became the first real estate project in Quebec to deploy a residual materials management plan.
The second phase of the re-development commencing in 2017 will create jobs for another 1500 workers with 15 new buildings, 400 affordable housing units and 3 new public squares to be constructed.
Barriers and challenges
During planning of the first phase, the local community rejected a redevelopment which would have been primarily based on housing. On the contrary, there was a strong aspiration to create new job opportunities through the redevelopment process. Nevertheless, the idea of building a shopping center on the site was rejected by the citizens already in the 1970s. This stressed the need for a more innovative concept which combines housing and business.
Lessons learned and transferability
Important factors for the successful implementation to date:
- local mobilization, based on a strong involvement of the community, using a grass-roots approach.
- facilitating a strong partnership among stakeholders has been a crucial success factor for such a project.
- partnerships with different levels of government was required for the sustainable development of the area. In this partnership approach, intermediary organizations play a key role, as they translate and report the needs of the community to government.
Vital Neighborhoods in Metropolitan Cities, Power of Urban Transformation through Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE), UCLG peer learning Note, Montreal, June 2017