Technopole Angus

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Main actors

City Government, NGO / Philanthropy, Community / Citizen Group

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Project area

Neighborhood or district

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Ongoing since 1995/06

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 (

Sustainable Development Goals

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Montreal, Canada

Size and population development
Montréal is the most populous city in the province of Quebec, with an approximate population of 2 million people as of 2017. Greater Montréal has more than 4 million people, composed of 16.9 percent children, and 16.4 percent adults over 65 years of age; with 2 million males and 2.09 million females. The 2030 scenario supposes that the city will become the home of 5.2 million people.

Population composition
2.2 million people in Montréal claim to speak both French and English, which is in itself a curious figure. However, more intriguing still is that more than 60,000 people in the Metropolitan area did not know how to speak either of the official languages. These include Aboriginal languages like Inuit and Cree-montaignais, but also non-Aboriginal languages like Afroasiatic ones (e.g. Creole, Yiddish) and Indo-European (e.g. Slavic variations, German). Minority populations comprise together over half a million inhabitants in the Metropolitan area of Montréal, and natives have been registered as approximately 42,000 people.

Main functions
Montréal is the most populous municipality in the Canadian province of Quebec and the second most populous municipality in Canada. The city is located in the southwest of Quebec and covers most of the Island of Montreal at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. French is the city’s official language and is the language spoken at home by 49.8% of the city’s population, it is the second largest primarily French speaking city in the world, following Paris. Named after the three peak mount that stands in the middle of the city—“Mount Royal”—a site formally occupied by an indigenous village called Hochelaga. After the conquest, a French fur trading post grew into a city across the 1600s. Today, Montréal is a major tourist city and is recognised as a hub for technology research and development and the creative industries.

Main industries / business
After Toronto, Montréal is the biggest economy in Canada. The city of Montréal identifies as its principal and developing industries the following: aerospace, food, cinema and television, finance, fashion and clothing, life sciences (research and innovation), information technologies, transport and logistics. Certainly, Montréal excels in the area of aeronautics and technology development, as many of the world’s cutting-edge companies have set their headquarters there. Among the more famous companies installed in the city include the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, the production company Alliance Films, and the videogame company Ubisoft. It has also gathered the attention of artificial intelligence developers, such as Facebook AI Research, Microsoft Research, Google Brain, DeepMind, etc. The Port of Montréal, another of Quebec’s economic features, located inland, transacts 26 million tonnes every year. Montréal is also considered a key cultural capital. It has strong film, television and theatre industries, with for example Cirque du Soleil being headquartered in this city. Also, its music scene has impacted worldwide through festivals such as the Montréal International Jazz Festival, the largest in the world. Another feature of Montréal is its ice hockey scene, with the local team “Montréal Canadiens” as a central participant of the NHL.

Sources for city budget
The budget of the city is elaborated by the mairesse and her executive committee for approval by the rest of the municipal council. It must include expenditure that relates to public security, subvention programmes for real estate and urbanization projects, the environment, and a three-year government plan.

Political structure
The government of Montréal is led by a mayor, the councils of the boroughs and the city council, with the municipal council being made up of 65 elected officials. The mayor, Valérie Plante, is the first woman to occupy the role since the founding of the city, and she is equal to the other 64 members of the council. In political matters, the mayor stands as the head of the executive committee, which she nominates, and is in charge of deciding local competencies, services relevant to the urban agglomeration of the île de Montréal (the island that comprehends the city as well as the surrounding suburbs), and the generation of documents that relate to the city budget and its rules. The opposition party (the second runner-up) has an active role of watchdog functions and freedom of expression regarding the decisions taken by the mayor.

Administrative structure
The municipal council is also in charge of the budget of Montréal. This includes the urban agglomeration of the île de Montréal: that is, its 19 arrondisements or boroughs and 15 banlieues or suburban areas. Each of the boroughs has a mayor, elected by the local citizens. They and the councils of the boroughs are tasked with matters regarding local urbanism, culture, parks and recreation, community development, human resources, housing, etc.

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.

The Quebec and the Canadian National Government agreed to stage the repayment of loans after the development phases.

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.

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. 

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

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