On December 5, 2014, the Québec National Assembly assented An Act respecting the Société du Plan Nord. The long-awaited Bill provides for the creation, organization and governance of the Société du Plan Nord whose mission will be to contribute, together with representatives of the region, local and Native communities as well as the private sector, to the integrated and coherent development of the area covered by the Northern Plan (known as well as Plan Nord), in keeping with the principle of sustainable development and in accordance with Québec’s policies relating to Plan Nord.
The highlights of the measures adopted by the Bill include the following:
- The Société du Plan Nord may coordinate and develop or operate infrastructure projects, alone or in partnership. In addition, it may assist and support local and Native communities in their development projects and carry out or contribute to research and development activities as well as activities to acquire knowledge of the area covered by Plan Nord.
- The Société du Plan Nord will establish a strategic plan setting out the objectives it is pursuing and the priorities it has established in accordance with Québec’s policy directions relating to Plan Nord.
- An open access to government-designated infrastructures that are either fully or partially privately owned, for which construction began after April 1, 2015 and that are located on public land in the area covered by Plan Nord.
- The Société du Plan Nord will contribute to maximizing the economic spinoffs generated by the development of natural resources in the area covered by Plan Nord, in accordance with Québec’s intergovernmental and international trade commitments.
- The Société du Plan Nord will contribute to setting up mechanisms to allow 50% of the area covered by Plan Nord to be used, by 2035, for purposes other than industrial purposes, for the protection of the environment and for the preservation of biodiversity.
- A marketing office will be established. Its purpose will be to communicate to Québec enterprises the supply and equipment needs of enterprises operating in the area covered by Plan Nord.
The Bill will come into force on January 4, 2015, except for certain provisions which will only come into force on April 1, 2015, including the establishment of the Société du Plan Nord.
In short, the Bill further confirms the Québec government’s commitment to making Plan Nord a central component for Québec’s future economic and social development.