a sustainable Lac Mégantic
This research project has been generously supported by the RAIC
The rebuild of the town centre following the events of July 2013 provides Lac-Mégantic with the opportunity
to collectively imagine a viable and actionable plan to construct the most innovative and sustainable
community in Québec and Canada. This document was written with such ambitious goals in mind.
The community is resilient, as evidenced by its fulsome and committed response to this extreme and
tragic event. This document has been produced with the intention to capitalize on this ethos rooted
in the apparent strong sense of community. Its aspirations are to indicate informed principles and best
practices that will embody a profound and exemplary resilient built fabric worthy of the community of Lac-
Mégantic. It is a considered and holistic approach to reconstruction, promoting economic, social, cultural
and environmental sustainability for a singularly innovative, resilient, and prosperous future.
To meet contemporary and future challenges, it is imperative that Lac-Mégantic diversifies economically,
develops in a vibrant and socially inclusive manner and demonstrates stewardship of its abundant and
meaningful environment and context. Through meetings with key stakeholders, engagement with the
history and community culture of Lac-Mégantic, and thorough research into the social, economic and
ecological context, key principles and strategies have been identified to build upon the existing identity of
the town, whilst encouraging innovation and adaptive growth.
This work has been produced through the “Sustainable Design” course offered within the McGill University
School of Architecture in the Winter term 2015. It is a unique course in that it includes undergraduate and
graduate students from a wide range of disciplines, from architecture, urban planning, and geography to
philosophy, business, and bio resource engineering, to name a few. Each student has brought their own
skill set and contributed their expertise based on this range of disciplines. The following document is
intended to provide a framework to the Lac-Mégantic community in which to refer in re-imagining future
development and provoke discussion and continued investment in an inclusive, responsible and vibrant
future. We are privileged to be a small part of this effort.
The opportunity to become involved in the rebuild came to us through Bernard D’arche and Cécile Branco
and their proposal for the Centre Magnétique social incubator. As professionals involved in urban design
and city building at all scales, it became apparent to us that the social, environmental and economic
innovation they proposed at a building level was essential to the re-imagining of the entire town. We have
therefore concentrated our efforts in producing a document of practical value for the consideration of the
whole community of Lac-Mégantic.
There is much work to be done and this document does not portend to hold all of the answers; it is the
community that must commit to an appropriate and encompassing path of development and work towards
a successful future. We mean to help enable this process as best we can by framing the most pertinent
issues and offering a strategic guide based on our own expertise and perception of what Lac-Mégantic
Associate Professor, McGill University
table of contents
executive summary 2
vision and guiding principles 3
purpose and content 4
vision for lac mégantic 8
opportunity for change 13
economic impacts of sustainability 14
social impacts of sustainability 20
resources and energy 23
transportation and movement 29
vision // guiding principles
Planning for the reconstruction of the affected downtown area of Lac-Mégantic after the
2013 catastrophe offers a unique opportunity to develop a socially equitable, ecologically
sustainable and economically vibrant development strategy that addresses current and
future needs. This document proposes a sustainable development strategy focused on
the following basic goals:
1 The town’s economy should be developed in line with a common
community vision for a sustainable basis of employment, focused on local
entrepreneurship, that can address the challenges of the 21st century.
Promote a thriving Economy
2 The town should provide the development of affordable residential
development and a healthy environment adapted to the needs of families.
Encourage social and
cultural enrichment and opportunity
3 The town’s economy should be developed in line with a common
community vision for a sustainable basis of employment, focused on local
entrepreneurship, that can address the challenges of the 21st century.
Protect and enhance the environment
4The town should foster accessibility to safe and convenient travel via
transit, bicycle, and pedestrian mobility to minimize carbon impacts and
foster equitable access to mobility. Improved links with the surrounding
economic nodes of Sherbrooke, Quebec City and Montreal will
ease the flow of capital and will eventually accelerate development.
Improve mobility and transportation
purpose and content
Urban planners, architects and other key
stakeholders in the city building process are
producing policies aimed at enhancing sustainability
and resilience (Bosher, 2014). According to the first
published definition of “Sustainable Development,”
development is sustainable when it meets the needs
of the present without compromising the needs of
the future (Brundtland, 1987). Most approaches to
sustainability highlight the importance of a careful
and holistic consideration of social, economic
and environmental responsibility. It has been
argued that sustainability, as currently practiced
in the built environment, is primarily an exercise
in efficiency that relies on technical solutions
to solve the problems that the system itself has
created (Reed, 2007; Lohmann, 1990). For example,
the use of environmental rating systems and
other mechanisms of certification for sustainable
performance focus on technical solutions to mitigate
the damage caused by resource use and extraction.
reduce impacts on the environment, the paradigm of
resilience emphasizes how communities can better
deal with shocks and thus avoid disasters triggered
within the environment. Both are increasingly
considered the operational foundations for “doing
the right thing” and are commonly adopted by
design professionals and construction specialists
as “off-the-shelf” sets of ethical reasoning.
Holling (1973) defines resilience as “a measure of
the persistence of systems and of their ability to
absorb change and disturbance and still maintain
the same relationships between populations or state
to persist and the ability to adapt, acknowledging
the possibility of systems to flip into alternative
equilibrium (Adger, 2003; Davoudi et al., 2013). [KH1]
Similarly, in the field of urban planning, the concept
of resilience is defined as the capacity to withstand,
respond to, and adapt to shocks and stresses. In this
view, risks to cities can be reduced by adaptation to
environmental conditions. The location, structure,
and operational aspects of cities are the main
factors for risk and vulnerability reduction. For
example, land use planning can identify the most
appropriate areas for safety in sudden case of
natural hazards. Similarly, urban infrastructures
for water, sanitation, energy, communication
and transportation systems play crucial roles
in the achievement of resilience enhancement
and sustainable development objectives.
Global context of sustainability
Environment and Development (UNCED) developed
a list of universally applicable goals for sustainable
development that constitute an integrative and
indivisible set of global priorities. They are defined
as aspirational and general global targets, with
each government setting their own national
targets that take into account local circumstances.
These goals and targets look to integrate economic,
inter-linkages, achieving sustainable development
in all its dimensions. According to the United Nations
Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2015),
4.Protect the environment
In response, the FSDA committed to reducing
GHG emissions by 17% below the 2005 baseline
levels by 2020. Similarly, the Canadian Minister
of Environment issued the Passenger Vehicle
and the Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission
Regulations to creation national vehicular efficiency
standards. According to these regulations the
average GHG emissions from new vehicles
for the 2016 model year will be approximately
25% lower than for vehicles sold in 2008.
In order to reduce GHG emission levels and to
reduce the severe and unavoidable impacts of
climate change, the Canadian Environmental
Protection Act (CEPA) developed an aggressive
a low-carbon economy and make Canada a world
leader in clean electricity generation (Sustainable
Development Office Environment Canada, 2010).
Quebec’s provincial government is moving forward
with the passing of the Sustainable Development
Act (Bill 118), a core element of the Sustainable
of the Public Service the Sustainable Development.
Based on the critical understanding of the concepts
discuss potential sustainability strategies within the
tTe following sustainable development goals are
relevant to the strategy:
• Ensure healthy lives and promote
wellbeing for all ages.
• Ensure access to affordable,
reliable, sustainable and modern
energy for all.
• 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
• Make cities and human settlements
inclusive, safe, resilient and
• Take urgent action to combat
climate change and its impacts.
Based on the global goals of sustainable
development, the Federal Government of Canada
developed the Federal Sustainable Development
for developing and implementing a Federal
Sustainable Development Strategy that will make
environmental decision-making more transparent
and accountable to Parliament” (Sustainable
Development Office Environment Canada, 2010). In
the FDSA, the Government of Canada adopted four
major themes that have consistently high priorities:
1. Addressing climate change and air quality
2.Maintaining water quality and availability
3.Shrinking the environmental footprint
Adger, W Neil. (2000). Social and ecological resilience: are they related? Progress in human geography,
Adger, W Neil. (2003). Building resilience to promote sustainability. IHDP Update, 2(2003), 1-3.
Alexander, David E. (2013). Resilience and disaster risk reduction: an etymological journey. Natural
Hazards and Earth System Sciences Discussions, 1, 1257-1284.
Bosher, Gonzalo Lizarralde Ksenia Chmutina Lee. (2014). Sustainability and resilience in the built
environment. geography, 24(3), 347-364.
Brundtland, Gro Harlem. (1987). Report of the World Commission on environment and development:” our
common future.”: United Nations.
Davoudi, Simin, Brooks, Elizabeth, & Mehmood, Abid. (2013). Evolutionary resilience and strategies for
climate adaptation. Planning Practice & Research, 28(3), 307-322.
Holling, Crawford S. (1973). Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annual review of ecology and
systematics, 4, 1-23.
Lohmann, Larry. (1990). Whose common future? The Ecologist, 20(3), 82-84.
Reed, Bill. (2007). Shifting from ‘sustainability’to regeneration. Building Research & Information, 35(6),
Riddell, Robert. (2008). Sustainable urban planning: tipping the balance: John Wiley & Sons.
Sen, Amartya. (2011). The idea of justice: Harvard University Press.
Sustainable Development Act - Quebec Government, 118, Thirty-Seventh 6 § II (2006).
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FUTURE: A FEDERAL SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY FOR CANADA. Retrieved April
2015 from https://www.ec.gc.ca/dd-sd/F93CD795-0035-4DAF-86D1-53099BD303F9/FSDS_v4_
Soubbotina, Tatyana P. (2004). Beyond economic growth: An introduction to sustainable development:
World Bank Publications.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UNDESA. (2015). Open Working
Group proposal for Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved April 2015, from https://
Van der Leeuw, Sander E, & Aschan-Leygonie, Chr. (2000). A long-term perspective on resilience in
socio-natural systems. System shocks–system resilience, Abisko, Sweden.
Weichselgartner, Juergen, & Kelman, Ilan. (2014). Geographies of resilience Challenges and opportunities
of a descriptive concept. Progress in Human Geography.
vision for lac mégantic
Located in the Estrie (Eastern Townships) region
of Quebec east of the town of Sherbrooke, Lac-
Mégantic benefits from an Appalachian setting
amid hills and lakes. It boasts a steady industrial
economy built on the transformation of wood and
granite into value-added finished products. It is also
the regional centre of administration for the region
of Le Granit.
Recent decades have witnessed stagnation in the
town’s economy and demographic profile. The
wake of the recent catastrophe offers a unique
chance to re-envision a prosperous and sustainable
Lac Mégantic’s combination of isolation and
economic growth have fostered community pride
predicated on successful industries and small-
town social cohesion. Complicated by the recent
disaster, this collective narrative nonetheless
provides a basis for support for the future
development of an innovative, resilient economy.
Like many smaller Canadian towns, Lac-Mégantic
exists due to a large investment in its extraction
and manufacturing potential. Having generated
significant wealth by from the ownership of sawmills
in the St. Lawrence Valley, by 1860 the American-
born industrialist John H. Pope looked to invest
in a railway to extract the lumber from the virgin
forests of the Quebec Appalachians. The top
of the Chaudière River at the northern tip of the
large Mégantic Lake offered a promising source
of mechanical energy at a point convenient to
Quebec, Sherbrooke, and Montreal. This was
to be the natural site of investment, where the
resources of the surrounding region could be
collected and transformed by imported workers
before being brought to market (Kesteman 1985).
Completed in 1879, Pope’s railway from Sherbrooke
to Lac-Mégantic became the connecting thread that
provided a nourishing flow of people, energy, and
capital into the region. La Compagnie Nantaise, a
colony of immigrant workers from northern France,
built and began operating several sawmills along
the western flank of the rail line, fed by a steamship
that collected wood from the distant shores of the
lake. A multi-nuclear town center quickly grew up
along today’s Laval and Frontenac streets. By the
20th century, there was an ever-growing cluster
of villages populated by Scots, Canadiens, and
French immigrants who supplied the labor power
to the extractive operation at low rates of pay. The
two largest villages, lying on either side of the
river, merged in 1907 into the town of Mégantic.
A generation of industrial expansion fostered the
conditions to develop a multifaceted, permanent
settlement. The large neo-gothic Catholic Church
was soon built on Laval Street, symbolically
cementing the new layers of social services,
education, and collective ritual that enriched what
Concurrently, the town of Mégantic assumed its
identity as the commercial hub of the surrounding
region, with shops lining Frontenac Street.
Lac Megantic in 1904
For a town built by a railroad, it was a severe
blow to the common place narrative. In the wake
of the incident, collective soul-searching has led
to a new-shared conviction that the town should
develop diversified sources of employment. In this
sense, the crisis presents an opportunity to address
the economic standstill that has prevailed since
the 1980s with an innovative response that both
strengthens the existing economy while also laying
the basis for future diversification and dynamism.
Current Economic Situation
Despite the growth of the service sector over the
past half-century, manufacturing still represents
a slim majority of local jobs, a remarkable
Slowed by the Great Depression but fed by the
steady stream of rural migrants, the economy
of Lac-Mégantic grew at a reasonable rate until
the end of the Second World War, when housing
construction boomed nationwide and Lac-
Mégantic’s wood was in high demand. Meanwhile,
rapid changes in Quebec society left their mark
on the town’s physical and social landscape.
Textile mills, built in the 1950s, added diversity to
the town’s industrial base and hired local women
en masse. The ever-growing demand for labor in
the wake of the Second World War empowered
unions to secure better living standards for the
working class, and Lac-Mégantic evolved from a
working-class to a middle-class blue-collar town.
On a province-wide level, the Quiet Revolution of
the 1960s precipitated the rapid retreat of the church
from public life, to be replaced with secular forms of
collectivity and personal identity. Significantly, the
advent of contraception and the demise of mass
participation in Catholicism reduced the birth rate
drastically. Into this newly vacant space flowed
the forces of personal consumption and a new
plethora of social services provided by the state.
In Lac-Mégantic, this development found spatial
expression along Laval Street, where large stores,
parking lots and motels lie next to the regional
hospital and a hulking technical school (polyvalent).
of the 20th century are emblematic of the steep and
competitive urban economic hierarchy of globalized
Canada. Rural migration no longer benefits any but
replacement; and international immigration hardly
exists outside the metropolis. While these trends
have affected Lac-Mégantic, the town maintained
a relatively healthy outlook into the 21st century.
The disaster of 2013 struck at the heart of the
Lac-Mégantic’s identity and destroying the
community’s core along Frontenac Street.
29, 2014. It allowed architects, urban planners,
local residents and other key actors in the city-
building process to communicate, share, and
debate a new architectural signature for the
Master Plan of the town. The citizens present
at the event wished to re-develop a strong city
center that would preserve and enhance the
cultural, commercial and residential aspects of
the town while creating a beautiful and unique
place characterized by its impressive natural
features. Lac-Mégantic has the potential to
become an innovative place where wellbeing and
happiness is felt throughout the development of
a sustainable environment for work, culture, and
A Stakeholder Network in
support of innovation
In the winter of 2015, a network of regional private-
and public-sector actors expressed support
for the construction of the Centre Magnétique,
an award-winning concept for a center of
entrepreneurship designed by students at McGill
University. Encompassing the leader of the local
technical school, representatives from the granite
exception to the wider provincial context.
The secondary (manufacturing) sector consists of a
diversified base of wood products (primarily particle
board and finished furniture), finished granite
products, and clothing (Fig. 2). The tertiary, which
amounts mostly to retail, entertainment, and tourism,
encapsulates a similar number of jobs. The primary
sector, accounting for the quarrying of granite as well
as for the remnants of extractive forestry, represents
a small but significant portion of employment,
and one that is especially relevant to industry.
Both the particle-board and granite industries are
competitive on a wide scale: locally quarried and
finished granite has recently been used in large-
scale memorials in New York City and Washington,
D.C., while the Tafisa wood-processing plant
supplies over 10% of North America’s particle
board, mostly for the purpose of building cabinets
in newly constructed buildings. Several textile
factories persevere as well, an almost miraculous
circumstance given the province-wide collapse
of a once key source of mass employment.
Demographics relate a less positive story. Lac-
Mégantic’s growth rate has noticeably trailed that
of the Granite RCM, L’Estrie, and the province at
large. This strongly indicates that the long-term
sustainability of the existing economy is imperiled
by a lack of growth and dynamism, an observation
frequently echoed by the Méganticois with whom
we consulted in our research outing in January 2015.
Following the tragedy of 2013, Lac-Mégantic
prioritized public participation and community
involvement in redevelopment. Several short-term
projects have been implemented in response to
the disaster, but long-term decisions are still being
debated among the community. The latest charette
occurred in the town’s sports centre on November
Roundtable discussion hosted by McGill Students
and Centre Magnetique
and wood industries, as well as the mayor of the
Granite Region, this group repeatedly re-affirmed
their support for fostering entrepreneurship
as the future direction of the town’s economy.
Furthermore, Lac-Mégantic’s industrial strength has
fostered the development of many small businesses
related to the supply chain of the larger plants.
Community pride in these businesses is evident, and
is situated within the broader collective economic
narrative based on skilled labor and successful,
competitive enterprise. An existing development
council tied to the regional government and the
private sector has helped coordinate funding
and provincial private-sector development grants.
Lac-Mégantic possesses three
key traits that will aid its
1. A persistent manufacturing pole,
encompassing several layers of the
production chain, competitive on a
2. A commitment to invest in
entrepreneurialism, on the part of
several key regional stakeholders to
invest in entrepreneurialism and foster
3. A unique opportunity for collective
imagination, of a resilient future
Centre local de développement de la MRC du Granit. “Le secteur manufacturier: moteur de l’économie
de la MRC du Granit.” Accessed March 30, 2015. http://www.cldgranit.qc.ca/industrie.php.
Centre local de développement de la MRC du Granit. “Une région dynamique: Une économie dy-
namique et diversifiée.” Accessed March 30, 2015. http://www.cldgranit.qc.ca/economie.php.
Centre local de développement de la MRC du Granit. “Vision – Stratégie 2014-2017: Plan d’action local
pour l’économie et l’emploi (PALÉE).” Accessed March 30, 2015. http://www.cldgranit.qc.ca/docu-
Emploi Québec. 2013. “Portrait de l’emploi et du marché du travail.” Estrie. Accessed March 29, 2015.
Fournier, Marcel. La colonie nantaise de Lac-Mégantic : Une implantation française au Québec au XIXe
siècle. Quebec: Septentrion, 2012.
Institut de la statistique du Québec. 2015. “Estimation de la population des régions administratives.” Ac-
cessed April 3. http://www.stat.gouv.qc.ca/statistiques/population-demographie/structure/ra_total.
Institut de la statistique du Québec. 2015. “Le Granit.” L’Estrie ainsi que ses municipalités régionales
de comté (MRC). Accessed April 3. http://www.stat.gouv.qc.ca/statistiques/profils/region_05/re-
Kesteman, Jean-Pierre. Histoire de Lac-Mégantic. Lac-Mégantic: Ville de Lac-Mégantic, 1985.
Pagé, Lucie. 2013. “Lac-Mégantic: Lucie Pagé nous raconte.” Chatelaine. 10 July. Accessed April 3.
Statistics Canada. 2011. “Census Profile: Lac-Mégantic.” Accessed March 21, 2015. http://www12.
Statistics Canada. 2011. “Census Profile: Le Granit.” Accessed March 21, 2015. http://www12.statcan.
Tremblay, Danielle. “Lac-Mégantic: entre montagnes et rivières, une ville se raconte.” Continuité
59 (1994): 38-42. Accessed April 1, http://www.erudit.org/culture/continuite1050475/continu-
Ville de Lac-Mégantic. “Historique.” Portrait de la ville. Accessed March 30. http://www.ville.lac-megantic.
This process is covered in the BREEAM Communi-
ties technical manual, a planning instrument used by
developers, planners, politicians, and communities.
BREEAM assesses sustainability at the
master-planning level using three steps;
1. Establish principle of de-
BREEAM assesses the degree
to which the design team under-
stands the opportunities to im-
prove sustainability that neces-
sitate a site-wide response, as
presented in a holistic strategy.
2. Determine the layout of
Includes detailed plans for mo-
bility of people through the
site and where the buildings
and amenities will be located.
3. Designing the details
This includes specification and
design of landscaping, sustain-
able drainage solutions, and
transport facilities, as well as
the detailed design of the built environment.
For the benefit of this sustainability strategy, the
plan will focus primarily on Step 1. The BREE-
AM Communities standards are embedded in
the four main strategy components of this plan:
1. Economic and Social Wellbeing;
2. Resource and Energy;
3. Land Use and Ecology; and
4. Transportation and Movement
All but three of the buildings in the downtown core
of Lac-Mégantic have either been destroyed or are
scheduled for demolition due to contamination. Full
decontamination of the affected site will require the
extraction and replacement of soil. The events of the
2013 disaster present the choice, or opportunity, to
take a new path in re-planning the entire downtown.
More than just a new town plan, this
alternative path brings the chance
to re-think what the city centre could
mean for the residents and visitors
of Lac-Mégantic. The strategies and
plans brought forward in this doc-
ument suggest that Lac-Mégantic
has the opportunity to reinvent it-
self to become a sustainable town
and a leader in green building in
Quebec and Canada as a whole
In order to realize the sustain-
able-development oriented goals
and visions, this plan follows the
standards of the Building Research
Establishment Environmental As-
sessment Methodology, more
commonly known as BREEAM.
BREEAM is the longest-established and most wide-
ly-accepted method of assessing, rating, and cer-
tifying the sustainability of buildings. It looks to
address a wide variety of environmental and sus-
tainable issues using a straightforward scoring
system. One focal point of BREEAM is to improve,
measure, and certify the social, environmental,
and economic sustainability of large-scale devel-
opment plans through the integration of sustain-
able design into the process of master planning.
opportunity for change
control pollution, flood risks and temperatures
more cost-effectively than mechanical solutions,
thus freeing up funding to go towards economic
investments or savings for taxpayers (Gore, 2014).
Public health also improves when communities
invest in Green Infrastructure. Evidence strongly
suggests that the quality of outdoor environments
is an important factor in encouraging daily
Economically, this means increased productivity
of employees and reduced health care spending
Cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit is necessary
for a creating a sustainable Lac-Mégantic. The
structure of the global economy continues to
shift away from 20th-century patterns of mass
production, full employment, and the exploitation
of nature. Instead, the system is moving
towards a production system characterized
Sustainable development for Lac Mégantic
affects more than just environmental resilience
or aesthetics; this section demonstrates that
sustainable development has tangible economic
benefits. First, it will address some salient definitions,
then it will move into evidence-based arguments
that green infrastructure, social entrepreneurship,
and green building methods all have great
potential to benefit Lac-Mégantic’s local economy.
When we are discussing economic evidence, it
is important to establish a distinction between
economic impact (effect on GDP or unemployment
rate, whether positive or negative) and economic
value (the total effect on the welfare of the individual
whether caused by changes to consumption of
traded goods, or more intangible things such
as the beauty of a landscape). This distinction
is key in our discussion of economic impacts,
because sustainable development of cities
impacts both the community as a whole and adds
economic value to the lives of individual citizens.
Green infrastructure pays
Green Infrastructure (GI) such as street trees,
gardens, green roofs, community forests, parks,
benefits for communities and individual citizens.
A 2013 report conducted by Natural England
undertook a review of Green Infrastructure’s impact
on local economic growth, concluding, “the literature
review and the case studies show clearly that
investment in green infrastructure can contribute
to local economic growth.” The report found that
increasing attractiveness of parks resulted in higher
property values in proximity and increased visitor
spending. Further, GI was found to effectively
economic impacts of
The Highline Park in New York increased neigh-
borhood property values by 10% (Levene, 2014)
Entrepreneurship helps slow
flight of young residents
Reviews of challenges faced by small towns in the
United States (those that have less than 10,000
residents) have identified demographic factors
such as the flight of young residents to cities as
a key economic issue (Arzu et. al, 2011). These
young residents can be retained if towns create
a climate of entrepreneurship and creativity. A
2014 survey found that young adults in Canada
(born between 1980 and 1995) are twice as likely
as the Canadian average to want to start their own
business in the next year. (Leong, 2014) These
young entrepreneurs are essentially doing it on
their own, as found by a 2014 poll by Inuit Canada:
68% of young entrepreneurs intend to
finance their business with personal savings
38% would borrow from the bank
18% would rely on friends and family (Leong, 2014)
Entrepreneurship can be
There has been significant growth in the field of
Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation
over the past decade. Entrepreneurial thinking
creates much more than new startups and apps.
Entrepreneurship empowers individuals to turn their
ideas into reality, and many of these people will
develop ideas with tangible social and economic
benefits; yet for them to do so successfully it
is key for them to interact with other sectors.
Centres like the MaRS Solutions Lab in Toronto have
fostered convergences of innovation from the tech
sector, non-profit organizations, and governmental
agencies to work on complex social problems
related to sustainability. These convergences
between disparate sectors working toward a
more sustainable community is nothing short of
a new paradigm of governance, in which policy
creation and social impact are no longer the sole
by globalization, individualization of consumer
goods, underemployment, and the emergence of
global risks, such as climate change (Mayer and
Knox, 2010). Within this new economic context,
small towns that have only relied on one or two
industries (often directly connected to natural
resources) are at constant risk of exposure to
fluctuations in the global production system which
can devastate the economy. Entrepreneurship is
a way for small-town economies to engage with
the global economy without sacrificing resilience.
The traditional approach to small town economic
development engages in a process of “smokestack
chasing” whereby towns attract industries using
costly tax breaks and concessions. This strategy
has been characterized as high-risk in this new
economic context, because economic benefits are
not guaranteed in the long term (Glasmeier, 2000).
Entrepreneurship is linked to
In order for Lac-Mégantic to cultivate a resilient and
approach grounded in entrepreneurialism and
small business development should be undertaken.
Global reviews have shown that any increase in the
rate of entrepreneurship (i.e. number of businesses
owned per labour force unit) leads to a lower
level of unemployment and higher GDP growth
(Thurik and Wennekers, 2004; Bahmania and
Galindo, 2012). Small-town entrepreneurs that start
businesses may hire employees in the long-term,
adding economic value for themselves and others,
while positively impacting the local economy. Tech
startups that are founded in small-towns might
face the pull of relocating to urban centres after
initial success, an issue to be contended wiith by
maintaining high-quality and affordable facilities.
Entrepreneurship in practice:
build a place for collaboration
Small-town entrepreneurship is often grounded
in a physical location, with local governments,
organizations, and entrepreneurs working in the
same space supporting each other. The emergent
incubator at the Centre Magnétique will provide this
on regulation and public ownership, governments
who wish to encourage entrepreneurship in the
21st century should target the educational or skills
development of workers, facilitate the mobility of
workers into self-employment, lower administrative
burdens, and promote knowledge transfer (Thurik
and Wennekers, 2004). All of these functions should
collaboration that occurs when governmental
and small-business actors share spaces.
responsibility of government, but also encourage
a much larger role for individual citizens. In order
for convergence to occur, Lac-Mégantic will need
new places of production and interaction where
different sectors can work toward sustainability
Entrepreneurship in practice:
build a local production centre
The cost of bringing a physical product to market
has been vastly reduced over the past few decades
by emergent digital fabrication software (CAD
systems), and distributed hardware (CNC machines,
3D printers). Makerspaces and Fablabs are publicly-
accessible workshops where people can use
such tools to create new physical objects. While
these have popped up in cities across Quebec,
they are mainly used by hobbyists, artisans, and
small businesses to fabricate goods to sell in the
marketplace. A more powerful open facility with
industrial-quality machining and rapid-prototyping
would add a distinct differentiating factor to the Lac-
Mégantic economy, allowing startups from across
Quebec to prototype goods for mass-production
Digital fabrication technologies like 3D printing
can help entrepreneurs create their ideas
Places like the Centre for Social Innovation in
Toronto serve as hubs for innovation
one construction method that comes close to
achieving net zero energy. By making use of thick
insulation, solar heating, and heat exchangers,
Passive House construction results in a 90%
reduction in energy use (Zeller, 2010). Although
passive house has conventionally been used
in residential buildings, a variety of commercial
and public buildings have also made use of its
House built in Whistler, BC, had an energy bill of
$280.00 for the entire year. If the house had been
built to CMHC guidelines, the average annual
cost would be about $3,000/year (Sichello, 2012).
These reduced operating expenses can easily
recover the increased capital costs associated
with building green. The LEED average for added
green construction costs in the United States in
2007 was 7.8% for the highest standard (LEED
Platinum) and 1% for the lowest (LEED Silver)
(Miller, 2008). Given the innovative nature of
Passive House construction, there is a lack
of large-sample data on the North American
construction costs, but examples of certified
Passive House construction in Northern Europe
have seen increased costs of only about 6-9%,
while Canadian estimates are at about 10%
(Passive House, 2014). Even at this estimated
10% construction cost increase, energy savings
Sustainable Construction pays
Building for energy efficiency boosts the local
economy and adds economic value for individuals.
Energy efficient commercial buildings in the United
States certified by LEED or Energystar have been
found to increase resale value (2-17%), have higher
rental rates (5.8%-35%), higher occupancy rates
(0.9-18%), and higher net operating incomes (5.9%)
(Institute for Building Efficiency, 2012). Furthermore,
Constructing individual buildings sustainably saves
money for businesses and homeowners by greatly
reducing operating costs. Energy costs represented
about 30% of operating expenses in the typical
office building in the United States in 2011 (Eichholtz,
2013). Any reduction in these operating costs helps
individuals economically in the long term, although
the amount of reduction is dependent on which
level of sustainable construction one chooses.
In practice: encourage net-zero
Net-zero energy standard construction has
the highest reduction in operating expenses of
all green building standards. Passive House is
from a $300,000, 2700 square foot Passive building will recover the added
construction cost in approximately 11 years, thereafter resulting in incredible savings.
Thus, because of its proven cost savings for buildings, Lac-Mégantic should encourage all new
construction to aim for a net-zero energy standard, making use of methods such as Passive House.
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prior to the accident: in a smaller community like
Lac Mégantic, the fact that 30 of the 47 victims
of the explosion were celebrating at 1 a.m. at the
town’s popular gathering place, a bar called Musi-
Café, testifies to the spirit of the community. The
bar, which has now been splendidly rebuilt, serves
to commemorate the night, and stands as a symbol
for recovery and remembrance (http://www.cbc.
Lac-Mégantic is also a town with an active calendar
of festivals, most of which revolve around a strong
local culture of outdoor activities and sportsmanship.
For example, la Traversée internationale du Lac
Mégantic, a swimming race that takes place in
August, attracts swimmers from various countries,
and gathers nearby towns and communities for
a series of other events and activities around the
lake. The summer of the tragedy, the event took
place as planned, with a slight change in that visitors
were granted free access in order to promote the
activity, and create a sort of healing atmosphere for
In proximity to two major provincial parks, Frontenac
and Mont-Mégantic, where the most powerful
star observatory in North America lies, Lac-
Mégantic is an attractive spot for outdoor activities
including camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing. The
importance of the artificial nature park of Complexe
Baie-des-Sables as well as the downtown’s recently-
built Centre Sportif, a complex that houses a pool,
ball courts, an ice rink, further demonstrates how
the community’s relationship with physical activity
and team spirit is a core characteristic of the town.
As a major building, and one that has remained
standing after the accident, the Centre Sportif has
become a hub for community activities ranging
There are multiple definitions of social sustainability,
such as that of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable
Development, which sees it as “concerning how
individuals, communities and societies live with
each other and set out to achieve the objectives
of development models which they have chosen
for themselves, while also taking into account the
physical boundaries of their places and planet
earth as a whole” (Colantonio and Dixon, 2012).
The organization Social Life provides a more
appropriate definition in the report on “Design for
Social Sustainability,” stating that social sustainability
is “a process for creating sustainable, successful
places that promote wellbeing by understanding
They go on to state: “social sustainability combines
design of the physical realm with design of the social
world – infrastructure to support social and cultural
and space for people and places to evolve.” To
present the role of social sustainability in the project
of Lac Mégantic’s reconstruction, we can hereby
look at the ways in which BREEAM Communities
places the community at the center of governance
for the social wellbeing of a sustainable town.
BREEAM Communities identifies “governance”
as community involvement in decisions and long-
term stewardship of development, accomplished
through engaged conversation and consultation,
continuous design review, and community
management of facilities (BREEAM Communities).
In the case of Lac-Mégantic, the tragedy of the
accident has encouraged a strong network of
community support, paralleled by the involvement
of internal and external stakeholders to aid and
support the renewal of the community’s downtown.
A unique sense of cohesion in the town prevailed
social impacts of
involving local schools, major employers, and
existing community groups, and orienting the
collective efforts of development toward aspects
of the public realm. As such, the social wellbeing
of the community rests on efficient governance,
as local stakeholders are prioritized as the
drivers of local innovation and structural growth.
In the perspective of being one of the first projects
of the downtown’s reconstruction, the design and
a beam of inspiration for future reconstruction
projects and governance patterns. This is further
demonstrated by the project’s priority in the
agenda of the city’s reconstruction (D’Arche and
Branco, 2015). The work of the two business
students who originally proposed the project
relies on a survey conducted among community
members, in which they worked to define what
the major needs of the town were. In response
to this, the community emphasized the need for
a communal and collaborative space, offering a
conglomeration of services, from consulting and
accounting to printing and professional coaching.
of start-ups in the commercial and service industry,
offering new opportunities for self-employed
workers in the region (Centre Magnétique).
The flexibility of the space is key in leading a
conversation on governance, as entrepreneurs
see the collaborative aspect of the building as
an opportunity to create specialized services
for the community, such as a central co-op café
in the community, and the accessibility for all
members of the community to technological tools
and material for professional use. The program
for the Centre Magnétique also encourages
the creation of more intergenerational activity,
and opportunities for creativity and innovation,
through the involvement of local CEGEP
students, start-up entrepreneurs, established
public workers and government representatives.
from town hall meetings about the downtown’s
reconstruction to commemorative events for the
tragedy of July 2013 (http://www.ville.lac-megantic.
Since 2014, the community of Lac Mégantic has
been involved in a collective project, “Réinventer
la ville,” which strives to reinvent a plan fitting
for this dynamic city and region, and which
would benefit the local and regional economies
(Réinventer la ville, 2014). In order to direct this
project, the city selected a committee for the
design and application of the plan, CAMEO (Comité
d’aménagement et de mise en oeuvre). This body
would also be in charge of supervising the strategy
by collecting information on the various projects
geared towards the city’s development, conducting
consultations with the community, and advising the
city on efficient processes and decision-making.
Following this approach to reconstruction, the
project of the Centre Magnétique is geared towards
comprehensive economic planning, responding
to the local social and economic needs voiced
by involved entrepreneurs in the community.
In a paper on Social Sustainability commissioned
by the Homes and Communities Agency as part
of Future Communities – a partnership program
established by the Young Foundation to “explore
practical ways in which new housing settlements
can succeed as communities where people
want to live and work” – the authors evoke the
challenges of creating sustainable communities that
are adaptable to current situations of population
growth, migration and climate change (Woodcraft
et al., 2012). Highlighting what European new
towns have defined as necessary conditions in
order to flourish, the document points to social
infrastructure – schools, shops, neighborhood
parks, community groups and local transport – as
the basic needs for growth in new communities.
Given that the case of Lac Mégantic deals with
an existing community, it is important to base
these structures on the existing systems in place,
spirit of innovation, thus representing physically
the a vision for a sustainable Lac-Mégantic.
BREEAM Communities identifies social and
economic wellbeing as that which comprehends
health, a striving local economy, and a balanced
definition of social health. Within this optic the
Centre Magnétique stands as a proverbial first stone
in the sustainable reconstruction of Lac Mégantic’s
downtown. Relying on alternative sources of
energy and focusing on the possibilities for creating
and animating efficient collective spaces for the
community demonstrates the efforts to make use
of the public realm and involve the population to
of a social mix within the population, and present the
ecological and economic value to rebuilding green
D’Arche, Bernard and Cécile Branco. Centre
Magnétique. Facebook Page. Web. 6 April
“Centre Sportif.” Ville Lac Mégantic. 2014. Web. 15
Colantonio, A. and Dixon, T. “Measuring Socially
Sustainable Urban Regeneration in Europe
(Oxford Brookes University: Oxford Institute for
Sustainable Development, 2012)
“Governance.” BREEAM Communities. Presentation
by Helen Pineo. PPT.
D’Arche, Bernard and Cécile Branco. “Innovation2
en 5 phrases.” Compte-Rendu d’Innovation2.
Janvier 2015. Print.
Reinventer la ville. October 2014. Print.
Rousseau, Marie-Hélène. “Lac Mégantic : la
traversée, malgré la tragédie.” Radio Canada
avec La Presse Canadienne. 10 August 2013.
Seminoff, Corinne. “Musi-café reopening in Lac
Mégantic a big boost to town’s recovery.” CBC
News Canada. 15 December 2014. Web.
“The Centre.” Centre Magnétique. Web. 6 April 2015.
During a trip to Montreal organized by the Centre
Magnétique team, community members from the
town visited various collaborative spaces in the
city, picking up details to inspire the development
of the project in Lac Mégantic. The link between
entrepreneurial societies and the wellbeing of the
city is central in measuring the impacts of start-up
incubators and co-working spaces made available
to a community. Indeed, as reported in a review
posted by the Centre Magnétique, the visit allowed
the entrepreneurs to see what collaborative
spaces looked like, how they worked, and what
one could represent at the heart of Lac Mégantic:
a signal to the whole of Quebec that the province
contains untapped potential for a startup economy
in technology and entrepreneurship (D’Arche and
Branco, 2015). Over the weekend, activities and
roundtables were held to explore the challenges
of coordinating exchange between stakeholders
involved in the reconstruction of Lac-Mégantic and in
A subsequent conversation, which took place at the
time that our team of McGill students visited Lac-
Mégantic, shed light on ways in which the Centre
Magnétique could impact communities beyond its
walls, by better connecting with the whole town
plan, and with the culture of Lac-Mégantic’s existing
community. While some conversations focused
on the benefits of co-creation and community
building for Lac-Mégantic, others were geared
towards defining an ideological image for the
Centre Magnétique through the services it would
provide for the whole community of Lac-Mégantic.
For Lac Mégantic, a collaborative center like
the Centre Magnétique would inspire a culture
of openness and collective thinking. In terms of
physical construction, opting for local materials and
alternative sources of energy to supply buildings’
resources, as well as including elements such as
green roofs, modular workspaces and communal
conference rooms, invigorates the project with the
to 2014 average monthly temperatures of Lac-
Mégantic and using the base temperature of
18°C, the annual HDD of Lac-Mégantic is 4846.
Comparing this value to HDD values of common
PH building locations such as Berlin, 3113, or
Vancouver, 3177, we may observe that the level
of insulation required for low energy demand in
a PH building in Lac-Mégantic is comparatively
quite high. The following guidelines are
suggested to help achieve the PH energy
performance and environmental quality in cold
climates in North America (Straube, 2009).
We recommend sourcing the materials needed
for Centre Magnétique from local industries as
much as possible, especially considering the
local production of particleboard within Lac-
Mégantic. Our overall goal is to source 80% of
the passive house materials from Canada, with
50% sourced within the province of Quebec.
We will establish an energy strategy using a
calculated baseline energy demand from the
building and surrounding area; countering
this demand with photovoltaic panels, wind
power, geothermal sources, and Passive
House recommended materials will allow us to
significantly reduce on-site energy use. Further
basic reduction measures, such as strategic site
layout, innovative use of topography, shading,
solar orientation, and green roofing, will further
reduce energy needs. We aim for a reduction in
carbon emissions of approximately 50% relative
to the structures that previously occupied the site.
We plan to use decentralized energy, combined
heat and power systems, and low- or zero-carbon
resources and energy
Description and Goals
Our goal is to establish an energy strategy
for successful long-term implementation in Le
Centre Magnétique. The use of local resources
and efficient materials allows for a near-
zero emissions, sustainable structure. In this
context, Passive House building standards and
BREEAM standards guide our recommendations.
With the use of Passive House materials, building
envelopes are highly insulated, airtight, and free
of thermal bridges. Roof slabs, floor slabs, window
frames, and glazing are all well insulated and
prevent heat from leaving the building. Airtightness
ensures that the ventilation system works as
efficiently as possible. A heat recovery ventilation
unit allows for heat contained in the exhaust air to
be re-used. The interior environment of buildings
is thus healthier than typical interior spaces
as the ventilation system ensures a regulated
air supply. Our goal is to integrate some of the
Passive House standards and recommended
materials for the Centre Magnétique.
Location and Energy
Although the Passive House concept has been
implemented for over 20 years, most PH projects
have been built in Western Europe, hence there
are fewer precedents for PH building in very cold
climates. Climate, along with local culture and
construction traditions, is a key factor to consider
in the construction of a PH building. The heating
requirements for a PH building are directly
proportional to the number of heating degree days
at the location. Heating Degree Days (HDD) quantify
the amount of heating that a building needs based
on the outside temperature and the ideal interior
temperature for human comfort (18°C). According
An average household in Quebec consumes 57GJ
of energy per year. The prime location for the
wind turbines would be atop of the National Park
of Lac- Mégantic. Since it may be impractical to
install large wind turbines there, smaller, vertical
wind turbines could be considered. Both horizontal
and vertical wind turbines would be suitable for
Lac-Mégantic, depending on the final location
chosen and the average wind speed. For a large
and open space, one or two large horizontal wind
turbines would not only produce energy but also
provide a visual attraction. Smaller, vertical wind
turbines are not affected by the direction in which
wind blows, and so could be implemented on the
outskirts of the city. Due to the smaller size, the cost
of maintenance vertical wind turbines would be
lower, because each part would be more easily fixed
or replaced. However, since vertical wind turbines
are not directionally bias, they are less efficient.
The town of Lac-Mégantic helped finance a wind
energy project built at St. Robert Bellarmin. This
site became active last December and contains
12 wind turbines. Wind energy has broad support
within the municipality, indicating that the proposal
of further projects will likely have strong uptake.
Additionally, Lac-Mégantic also opened a call
for projects for an energy district, specifying the
desire to use renewable resources (Lac-Mégantic:
Système d’énergie communautaire, 2015).).
Solar Energy Production and
To achieve a zero net energy building, energy
generation must happen in place. We will implement
electric solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to accomplish
this goal. Several sources were consulted to
know approximately how much energy would be
produced. From PV Maps Canada (NRCAN, 2014),
the average monthly solar irradiance in Sherbrooke
energy sources. The typical total energy intensity
in a year in commercial buildings in Quebec is
1GJ/m2 /year, equivalent to 278kWh/m2/year
(CICES, 2005; SCIEU, 2009). In the residential
sector, according to the Energy Trends in Canada
from the National Energy Use Database (NEUD),
energy intensity is of 208kWh/m2/year, of which
63% is typically used for space heating (163kWh).
In comparison, Passive House specifies that
for a building to be accredited, it needs to
consume only 120kWh/m2/year, from which
only 15kWh/m2/year should be used for heating
purposes, drastically lowering energy use by
minimizing the energy necessary for heating.
Since excavations will inevitably happen in the
downtown area, geothermal energy can be easily
installed. This technology is familiar to the citizens
of Lac-Mégantic as the local CEGEP and the Centre
Sportif both use geothermal sources to heat
their buildings. Different systems of geothermal
energy could be used to provide both heat and
electricity; . To supply heat directly to a building,
individual systems will be installed in buildings.
Heating individual buildings will be relatively
small scale and easy to implement. For electricity
generation, deeper routes will need to be installed.
A geothermal HVAC system is much more
economical than a conventional forced-air system
given the life cycle of each (McQuiston et al, 1982).
A typical forced-air system must be replaced
every 13 years, whereas a geothermal compressor
must only be replaced once every 35 years. A
geothermal heating system essentially does not
emit carbon dioxide as a bi-product. Although
electricity is needed to power the compressor,
Lac-Mégantic’s electrical requirement is supplied
with hydro-power, as in the rest of Quebec.
contaminate the site and lay the foundation (nutrient-
rich soil) for the building of a strong landscape and
ecosystem. Land remediation is in progress at the
site and in downtown Lac-Mégantic. In the long-
term, we will maintain the landscape and promote
biodiversity in the immediate and surrounding area.
Ecological resiliency plays a strong role in the
strength of the site and its ability to respond to
change, natural disaster, etc. We stress the value of
ecological resiliency in Lac-Mégantic and consider it
to be the core of the land use and ecology strategy.
Our goal is to manage the land of the site and
surrounding area in a sustainable way to provide
the community with a resilient space for future
generations. Key to the project is assessing the
typology of the land to protect and enhance the
existing environment. We will focus on decreasing
the vulnerability of environmentally sensitive areas
- the lake for example, and contaminated sites
from the oil spill - using innovative approaches.
When greening the landscape of the site, we
will ensure that eutrophication of the lake will be
avoided. Additionally, we will implement the use
of blue infrastructure for storm water and sewer
management, and green infrastructure to clean
the air and to produce locally sourced food.
The soil in the area has been heavily contaminated
from the oil spill. Beginning in June 2014, the
contaminated soil has been gradually replaced
with clean soil. The removed contaminated
soil four to five meters deep (around 200 000
tonnes) has been treated with biodegradation
technology and moved 116 km West of Lac-
Mégantic to a closed mine in Asbestos, Quebec.
The soil will be used in a sustainable way at the
mine, fertilizing residual materials and waste.
(MDDELCC IMars 2015)
Further decontamination of soils from the
is 122kWh/m2, Solar panels have an efficiency
of 14% at standard test conditions, which would
produce a monthly value of 17.13kWh/m2. Actual
monthly values vary, amounting to 205.6kWh/m2 in
the entire year, which is very similar to that of the
residential energy demand.
Based on a standard relationship between
building size and roof area, electricity generated
by solar panel accounts for more than half energy
consumed by a typical commercial building in
Quebec, while producing more than enough for
residential purposes. The key point to realize is that
these are typical values, not accounting for high-
energy efficiency strategies. It was noted that in
residences more than 60% of energy consumed is
used for space heating (NRCAN, 2011). Therefore, if
we minimize that energy by using PH principles, the
leftover energy could be easily supplied by solar
Land Use and Ecology
The short-term need identified by the land use
strategy is remediation and decontamination:
the contaminated areas will be re-mediated and
conserved for long-term health and resiliency.
The long-term ecology strategy will have two
main focus areas: environmental management,
and the protection of valued ecosystem
services through ecological resiliency. Through
routine land surveying and the construction of
blue and green infrastructure, environmental
management and conservation goals can be met.
of the environment and ultimately the health of the
community. By pushing environmental initiatives to
improve the biodiversity of the area, introduce and
soil, and recycling water, our vision of ecological
resiliency can be met. In the short-term we will de-
Through the implementation of green infrastructure
within the frame of the building as well as
landscaping the surrounding area of the building,
we will foster biodiversity in the form of both
abundance and evenness of species. Biodiversity is
the core to healthy ecosystem function and serves
many human services including the provisioning
and regulation of the environment as well as
providing recreational services. Monitoring the
biodiversity levels in the lake will be necessary
under the five- and ten-year evaluation plans.
richness and evenness in the area surrounding the
proposed centre is essential to our goal of ecological
resiliency. Biodiversity affects plant productivity,
which is important resiliency (Loreau, 2010). By
sampling areas in different habitat zones (such as
close to the lake, close to residential buildings, and
close to transportation infrastructure) we can get an
idea of what types of species are living in the area
and how abundant they are. We can then return to
these areas during our re-evaluation dates to gather
data to determine if there is biodiversity gain or loss
in the area from the building of the centre.
The Shannon Diversity Index will be used to
measure species evenness and abundance in the
area. Using the formula from Figure 1, and taking
the exponent of this value, we can obtain the real
number of species in the sampling area. This gives a
diversity value or richness value to the environment
we sample around the Centre Magnétique. To obtain
the relative evenness in this sample of species, we
can divide the entropy by the natural logarithm of
the total number of species.
demolished building sites in the downtown area is in
progress. Fall 2015 is the estimated completion date
for removal of all contaminated soils. Spring 2017 is
the estimated completion of treating the soil to a
standard that can be used at the mine in Asbestos..
Approximately 100,000 to 200,000 liters of light
crude oil spilled into the lake from the derailment.
Under the provincial Environmental Quality
Act, Quebec ordered Maine & Atlantic Railway,
Canadian Pacific, Western Petroleum Co and World
Fuel Services Corp. to clean up the crude. During
this time, fishing restrictions were put in place
extending down the Chaudière River. The oil in the
lake regardless of the clean-up efforts will have
long-term impacts on the aquatic ecosystems in
place. Monitoring the lake, the biodiversity levels
and functioning will be essential going forward.
We envision the land used for Centre Magnétique
to be productive for many years to come; we have
short-term and long-term plans to re-evaluate the
a preliminary assessment for potential impacts from
development to better prepare for future problems..
1 year, 2 year,
5 year, 10 year
Assess soil quality
2 year, 10 year Erosion control
1 year, 2 year Eutrophication assessment
in the lake
5 year, 10 year Measure biodiversity index,
species richness, species
1 year, 2 year, 5
Water purity measurements
5 year, 10 year Water table level analysis
Table 1: Time intervals for environmental monitoring
and interventionsover time
riparian corridors near the lake, and line the streets
that lead to the centre with trees. We will activate
water through the use of fountains and memorial
systems, and air-conditioning condensation will aid
in the reuse of water. We will divert purified water to
the lake through blue infrastructure.
Green infrastructure will be constructed to clean the
air of emissions. An urban garden can be considered
for building occupants, if the occupants agree on its
long-term maintenance and health. Planting trees is
our strategy for excess water management through
strong infiltration uptake. All landscaping should be
done without pesticide or fertilizer use to emphasize
the importance of a natural landscape.
Risks to species
A 30-kilometer stretch of the Chaudière River was
contaminated with approximately 100,000 litres of
the crude oil from the Mégantic lake in 2013. The
river provides habitat for the Atlantic Sturgeon, which
is designated as a threatened species. Monitoring
this threatened species now and in the future will
be crucial to its long-term survival at this location.
Oil is absorbed into the fatty tissues of marine life
and does not disintegrate. Additionally, Polycyclic
Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) were found on the
surface of the water due to the presence of crude
oil. These pollutants poison fish and cause cardiac
arrest. Species conservation efforts have been
noted, particularly this July, when 5,000 new trout
were released into the lake. Further conservation
efforts should be implemented. Bird species in the
surrounding area of the lake were apparently not
affected by the oil spill.
Blue and Green Infrastructure
The continued conservation of the landscape
requires an understanding of the evolving
connection of the city with its natural setting. The
significance of water as an element of the urban
ecosystem has lost its visibility among the city’s
amenities. We propose to reintroduce the value of
water and implement recycling techniques that will
enhance the community and provide an important
resource for the landscape. Examples of blue
infrastructure that will be implemented include
swales and retention ponds to collect storm water
run-off and filter water before entering Mégantic
Lake. A flood risk assessment should additionally
be completed under the BREEAM standard before
the aforementioned infrastructure is constructed.
We propose a water framework focused on
retaining, filtering, activating, reusing and diverting
water within the site area and the building. To retain
water, we will introduce permeable surface areas in
the parking lot and swales near the lake. To filter
water, we will implement green rooftops, landscape
Figure 2: Economic benefits of green infrastructure
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transportation are available. Rather than frame
the need to reduce car dependency through
parking limitations, the discourse should focus
on the benefits of having a compact, walkable
downtown; if parking areas were concentrated
within the periphery of the city, this would allow
for more lively pedestrian-oriented streets in the
town centre. The relatively small geographic size
a setting that is conducive to walking, and could
be complemented by an electric bus shuttle for
residents who are either mobility reduced, or
unwilling to walk during unfavourable weather.
Lac Mégantic currently has an extensive cycling
path entitled the “Grand Tour du Lac Mégantic”
that covers sixty kilometers in length, forming
the circumference of the lake. Although this is a
valuable form of infrastructure, it is also possible
to encourage cycling as a mode of transportation
beyond simply a recreational activity. This could
be achieved through extending and integrating
the cycling network along both the main and
secondary road axes within the town, connecting
the outlying residential areas with the downtown
centre. In order to facilitate this transition to
cycling as a more reliable mode for commuting,
the town could provide both bike parking
facilities as well as bike maintenance stations.
Furthermore, encouraging a bicycle culture could
have secondary economic benefits, such as the
creation of cyclist oriented cafes or bicycle shops.
Lac Mégantic also provides adapted and public
transit through the company Trans-Autonomie,
which is largely focused on providing service for
mobility-reduced persons. This service requires
Given the importance of transportation in everyday
of both individual and communal mobility. Within the
context of Lac Mégantic, there is an opportunity to
reimagine how thoughtful transportation systems
can positively influence the lives of citizens. This
requires an open understanding of the implications
and services that already exist within the town, as
well as what can be done to move forward. The
ultimate goal is to maintain a vibrant and dynamic
community, while promoting well-being and
reducing the environmental impact of residents.
Urban Design and Planning
There is an inextricable relationship between
the built environment and the ability to provide
opportunities for active and public transportation.
High density, mixed-use developments, combined
with safe and appealing streets, create a framework
that induces walking through greater accessibility
and connectivity. Supporting this, the provision of
cycling infrastructure, such as bicycle paths and bike
parking facilities, allow for the opportunity to cycle as
a viable mode of transportation. The higher density
also implies a greater concentration of people,
and therefore a greater potential for communal
transportation such as public buses or carpooling.
This also highlights the benefits of considering
transportation from the initial stages of development,
rather than modifying infrastructure over time
as needed – by creating a mutually reinforcing
relationship between the built environment and the
transportation network, there is an opportunity to
Changing individual transportation behaviour is
often best approached through a combination
of both incentives and disincentives. One of the
greatest ways to limit car use is to restrict the
amount of parking available for residents, which
is only a realistic strategy if alternative forms of
with other regional centres. To begin, Lac Mégantic
could improve the private bus services currently
being offered by creating direct lines to Sherbrooke,
Quebec City, or Montreal. Reducing the amount of
time it takes to access Lac Mégantic, especially the
Centre Magnétique, is critical for creating a positive
business climate for future growth. Likewise,
owners to access the town without necessitating
a private vehicle is an important way of ensuring
equity within the economic system. This approach
could also be complemented by a local ridesharing
application that would connect residents who are
going to similar destinations; although this is a less
formal approach, it equally provides the opportunity
to have beneficial interaction within the business
a commuter train could be introduced to provide a
consistent and reliable way of accessing the region.
Energy-use and Environmental
Since transportation accounts for twenty-five per
cent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions
(Environment Canada, 2014), it is imperative to
provide alternative forms of transportation to car
use. The ultimate goal is to reduce both the total
amount of Vehicle Kilometres Traveled (VKT), the
amount of fossil-fuel energy consumed to achieve
the desired mobility of the local population, and the
emissions produced as a result of this mobility. On
average, passenger cars emit 368.4g of Carbon
Dioxide into the atmosphere for every mile driven
(EPA, 2008). By providing alternative transport
options, such as cycling and pedestrian networks,
public transportation services, carpooling and lift
sharing clubs, it is possible to minimize the amount
of energy consumed and emissions produced from
individual travel. Furthermore, the provision of these
alternatives is most beneficial if they are used to their
full capacity – promoting and advertising alternative
forms of transport is equally important, given that
the change in behaviour ultimately has to come
from both the local population and the municipality.
that users reserve their spot twenty-four hours in
advance, and the bus route itself bypasses several
important locations. Again, there is a need to shift
the community’s perception of public transit as an
option for the disadvantaged population towards
something that is more attractive to the general
public as a whole. The city could expand its public
transit network to include a dedicated bus schedule
that does not require reservations, and provides
more frequent and abundant stops. For example, the
bus network could be connected to local industries
such as Bestar or Tafisa, where employees could
become less reliant on their personal vehicles
to get to work. Similarly, Lac Mégantic could
also provide monetary incentives through these
industries to promote carpooling – the ultimate
goal being to reduce the environmental impact of
the local population’s mobility, while also engaging
in forms of transit that foster a communal spirit.
Social and Physical Well-being
to shift the public’s perception of both active and
public transit. It is important to make the connection
between these alternative forms of transportation
and the benefits that will be experienced by users.
For example, both walking and cycling promote a
healthy lifestyle by indirectly providing opportunities
to exercise. Likewise, both active and public transit
favor social interaction, rather than isolation. In
order for these benefits to be fully internalized by
residents, Lac Mégantic could introduce programs
that promote active and public transit within the
educational system, as well as advertise the
benefits of reduced car use to the general public.
Given the economic impetus of redeveloping Lac
Mégantic, it is important to provide a network that
supports accessibility, both for local businesses as
well as for individual entrepreneurs. For this aspect
of transportation, the municipality could implement
a long-term strategy to foster a greater connection
Canada. Environment Canada. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector. 2014. Web. <https://
United States. Environmental Protection Agency. Average Annual Emissions and Fuel Consumption for
Gasoline-Fueled Passenger Cars and Light Trucks. 2008. Web. <http://www.epa.gov/otaq/consum-