Beauharnois, May 10, 2021
Project to expand Google’s activities in QuébecFuture data center in Beauharnois
The government of Québec welcomes the announcement made by the multinational Google outlining its plans to acquire land in Beauharnois as part of its growth projects in Québec. These projects includes a potential investment of US$600 million (approximately C$735 million) to set up a data center in Beauharnois. Once the project is up and running, this potential investment will create close to 30 specialized, well-paid jobs during the data center’s operational phase.
To make this initiative possible and meet the specific needs related to the future construction and operation of the data center, the government has applied an exclusion from an agriculture zone to lands covering an area of 62.4 hectares and belonging to Hydro-Québec.
Compensation measures have been put forward to mitigate the effects of the project on farmland and farming activities. These measures have been agreed upon with the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) [Québec farm producers union] and the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) [Montréal metropolitain community]. For example, land belonging to Hydro-Québec, neighboring the land to be purchased by Google and of approximately the same size, will be zoned for agricultural use and transferred or entrusted to the Fiducie agricole UPA-Fondaction, a trust whose aim includes the preservation of Québec’s agricultural heritage.
In addition, the Québec government will make a non-refundable financial contribution of C$3.54 million to the Fiducie agricole UPA-Fondaction to help the trust kick-start its activities. The government will also offer C$2.7 million in non-refundable financial assistance to the CMM for the latter’s agricultural park project, the Parc métropolitain agricole.
Furthermore, to underline Hydro-Québec’s commitment to maintaining long-term relations with the UPA, the company will be transferring to the Fiducie agricole UPA-Fondaction a 150-hectare plot of land located in Saint-Stanislas-de-Kostka, in the Montérégie region, to help the trust launch its operations.
These measures were announced today by Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation, along with André Lamontagne, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Minister Responsible for the Centre-du-Québec and Chaudières-Appalaches regions; Jonatan Julien, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Minister Responsible for the Côte-Nord and Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine regions; and Claude Reid, Member of the National Assembly for Beauharnois and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transport.
“Today, I am very proud to announce a major project for the region. Estimates tell us that this data center will generate well-paid jobs here in Beauharnois both during construction and subsequently, as of the first phase of operation. When a company of Google’s scale expands its activities in Québec, it confirms our status as one of the most dynamic and green technological hubs in the world.”
Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation
“Protecting farmland is very important to the Québec government. The measures put in place to mitigate the impact of the project on agricultural zones are unprecedented and demonstrate our commitment to the preservation of agricultural lands, which is crucial for our food self-sufficiency and the vitality of our regions. With this agreement, all of Québec comes out ahead.”
André Lamontagne, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Minister Responsible for the Centre?du?Québec and Chaudières-Appalaches regions
“Today’s announcement demonstrates Québec’s ability to attract world-class players in the new economy thanks to its clean, renewable and affordable energy. Google’s presence here will bring with it major investments, creating wealth in Québec for the benefit of society as a whole.”
Jonatan Julien, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Minister Responsible for the Côte-Nord and Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine regions
“The thought of welcoming Google and taking part in its future projects here in Beauharnois has galvanized the local community. We are very excited to be taking a step further toward the completion of this promising initiative and the revitalization of our regional economy while also preserving a vibrant agricultural industry in our riding.”
Claude Reid, Member of the National Assembly for Beauharnois and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transport
“We’re delighted that Google has chosen Québec’s clean energy to help it achieve its objective of converting all its activities to renewables by 2030, thereby confirming that we can play a significant role in the decarbonization of North America.”
Sophie Brochu, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hydro-Québec
“The progress of this project is great news for our town. For the past few years, we’ve been working with the promoter to meet its needs without creating negative impacts for our population. With Google coming to Beauharnois, we will consolidate the development of our industrial park and work to create a technological data hub.”
Bruno Tremblay, Mayor of Beauharnois
“The agreement signed with the Fiducie agricole UPA-Fondaction as part of this project is important to the UPA. The mission of the organization is to preserve the vocation of farmland in Québec with a view to supporting projects to help establish the next generation of farmers. The current situation is exceptional: for the first time, the government is taking concrete measures to recognize the need to maintain the area of agricultural zones by compensating for the loss of farmland. We cannot improve our food self-sufficiency without maintaining or increasing the amount of land being cultivated in Québec.”
Marcel Groleau, President General, [FI1] Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA)
“Montréal International has been working alongside the Google business units active in the greater Montréal area for several years. The future data center project proves that, in addition to our creativity and innovative talent, the CMM’s 82 municipalities constitute an environment that fosters the development of new technologies and know-how which help companies reduce their carbon footprint.”
Stéphane Paquet, Chief Executive Officer, Montréal International
- The aim of the Fiducie agricole UPA-Fondaction is to help the next generation of farmers access agricultural land and to preserve Québec’s agricultural heritage, notably by removing farmland from the speculative real estate market and ensuring it is conserved and used for agriculture.
- The Parc métropolitain agricole, an urban agricultural space, is an initiative launched under an agreement in principle between the CMM, the UPA and CDPQ Infra to maintain the agricultural vocation of urban land over the long term. The park will spur innovation in peri-urban agriculture and lead to projects that demonstrate best practices in the field. In addition, it will help bring together urban and rural communities by giving the general public access to farms and to educational activities.
- Google has been active in Québec since 2004. Its Montréal office could eventually employ to up to 1,000 employees in three business units: Chrome, Cloud and AI. The company recently committed to making Montréal one of its three main Canadian offices.
- On April 28, 2021, the Québec government adopted Order in Council 599-2021, which excludes from agricultural zoning certain lots or parts of lots required for the implementation of a data center on land belonging to Hydro-Québec. These were part of docket 420388 of the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec, related to a request from the city of Beauharnois.
- The commitments made by the various parties to compensate for the effect of the project on farmland and farming activities, and thereby make the realization of the project possible, are set out in a document signed by the Québec government, the UPA and the CMM and titled Principes convenus visant à atténuer les impacts sur le territoire et les activités agricoles de la réalisation d’un projet de centre de données informatiques à Beauharnois sur le territoire de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal et à soutenir le démarrage de la Fiducie agricole UPA-Fondaction.
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