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Agricultural development and diversification of agricultural activities proposed

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Added: Thu, 06/05/2014 - 8:07am
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André Macron

CAMPBELL’S BAY –  “More than 80% of the Ottawa River valley plains are farms, with the vast majority of the land having agricultural potential,” said Jean-Jacques Simard, agronomist and agricultural     development consultant for the CRC and the MRC Pontiac.
A forum was held at the Campbell’s Bay RA Hall, May 29, where the development plan for agricultural land in the Pontiac (PDZA) was discussed. 
Emphasizing the principles of              innovation, promotion and attraction, Pierre Duchesne, forester for the MRC Pontiac, and Jeremiah Duchesne, CDE Pontiac Rural Development and Agri-food Commissioner, presented the ins and outs of implementing the PDZA in the Pontiac. The PDZA aims to highlight the               agricultural zone of  regional municipalities by promoting the sustainable development of agricultural activities. For the Pontiac,  this development involves the growth       and diversification of agricultural                and complementary activities such as               agri-tourism and on-farm processing.
The mayor of the municipality of West Bolton situated in the territory of the MRC Brome-Missisquoi in the Montérégie region, Donald Badger, emphasized how his region greatly benefited by implementing the PDZA. Since the plan’s implementation, twenty vineyards, berry producers, and a number of other small operations have emerged. The area also benefited from more tourists.
Raymond Durocher, MRC Warden, intends to embark on the same path of development as the MRC Brome-Missisquoi. “There are many challenges for the next      generation and if we do not act now, we will miss the boat. If we fail to meet the challenges of the agricultural sector, including the growth and diversification of agricultural and related activities, we face a new crisis. We must support the Pontiac’s agricultural sector that offers potential for    development. If 30 hectares would limit certain products,   it may be huge for others who are eager to grow,”            says Durocher.
Pamphlets highlighting the agricultural potential of    different soils and agricultural production in the Pontiac were available. One brochure identified vacant lots      located in green zones where it might be possible to build new homes. Vacant lots are locked in unstructured blocks in the agricultural zone as defined in the management and development plan of the MRC Pontiac, and others have an area of ten hectares and are located in viable agricultural and forest areas.
Building new homes on vacant lots can be done if they are related to an agricultural project in the framework of the PDZA. In total, there would be a possibility of 400-500 lots that could be used for residential purposes in the     agricultural zone with the permission of the Commission for Protection of Agricultural Land in Quebec ( CPTAQ ).
In 2012, the MRC characterized its agricultural land to establish a picture of the situation of agriculture in the Pontiac. In 2013, they submitted an application to the CPTAQ under the Act respecting the preservation of    agricultural land and agricultural activities to determine under what conditions and for what purposes new             residences can be located in an agricultural zone. The MRC is still waiting for the CPTAQ’s decision following a negotiation with the latter, the UPA and the municipalities concerned.
“Other regions have already established the PDZA and have started to see positive effects. The Pontiac should not be left out, especially since we have partners that will allow us to implement it. The PDZA is part of the solution for opening avenues and for promoting the expansion and diversification of agricultural and related activities, while respecting productions already established. This is an added value for the region that could possibly create some services that are now extinct,” said Rémi Bertrand, Executive Director of the MRC Pontiac.
“The population is increasing worldwide. Food demand is growing. There is room for everyone in agricultural development and we, in Pontiac, have huge untapped potential,” concluded Bertrand