Territorial planning and its contribution to the attractiveness and competitiveness of metropolitan regions.

Summary of discussions at the Montreal Platform, 2009 session

Claire Lanly, 2009

This seventh platform for exchanges on urban agglomerations focused on territorial planning and its contribution to the attractiveness and competitiveness of metropolitan regions.

The five cases reported were those of  :

  • The Montreal metropolitan region

  • The Quebec City metropolitan region

  • The Lyon-Saint-Étienne metropolis

  • The region of Brussels capital

  • The cross-border area of Franco-Valdo-Geneva

First of all, what are the themes that territorial planning takes up, or more exactly on which the services responsible for drawing up these territorial planning schemes consider themselves legitimate and work to submit proposals to political actors to support the dynamic? economic area oriented towards sustainable development  ?

Regarding the attractiveness of the metropolitan area for businesses, renowned local businesses and private and public research centers are networked at the initiative of the public authorities to facilitate exchange and local partnership but also international cooperation (See “  metropolitan clusters  ” in Montreal and particularly AéroMontréal on the CMM website  ; See also the partnership formed between the urban community, consular chambers, employers’ organizations and the university for the strategic platform “  Grand Lyon, the ‘entrepreneurship   ”).

The articulation with the territory is done primarily by the identification of a land and real estate offer available, or in the course of development, for the companies and thus through projects of development or urban redevelopment (Cf. Quartier international de Montréal or even the website of “  Grand Lyon, the entrepreneurial spirit  ”). However, responsible local officials are very sensitive to the scores awarded to their metropolitan region by rating agencies and often orient themselves towards territorial marketing initiatives, highlighting the territory’s strengths in terms of international links but also the quality of life for executives (including the ease or difficulty of traveling within the metropolis and abroad in terms of leisure). However, the different local tax bases and methods of taxing business activity also induce regional specializations, which are particularly sensitive in cross-border areas (Cf. Franco-Valdo-Geneva).

On the other hand, other essential questions remain in the domain of the unexpressed or, at best, are dealt with by other levels:

All the examples presented highlight the collective work process to develop a common vision as much as the result produced and politically validated, if only because the process is still underway. The debates of the 7th platform mainly focused on the difficulties of entering into a more global approach to the territories. This systematic search for local consensus to highlight the territory’s assets vis-à-vis the outside world largely explains the areas of uncertainty mentioned above. Conflicts over skills can also be a cause (Cf. training apparatus in Belgium controlled by the linguistic communities and not by the regions). However, can the elected officials of a territory forget that the development of human capital is an essential asset in terms of competitiveness within the developed world, which involves training programs and improvement of social cohesion for the benefit of of the populations of the territory  ? Others also noted that consensual location choices could turn out to be major strategic mistakes in the long run.

Beyond this quick summary, it seems interesting to come back to each of the cases presented by questioning the reported metropolitan governance methods and the way in which the planning / projects linkage is organized, or not, the theme of the previous session. For the sake of clarity, we will try to address successively three cross-cutting questions, which are nevertheless closely linked, which are approached differently in the different metropolises presented  :

However, it will be easier to learn from the two Quebec cases than to analyze them separately, which is why they will be presented successively.

1- The Montreal Metropolitan Community (CMM)

The CMM is a supra-municipal planning, coordination and financing institution created in 2001. It assumes 5 of the 6 competences provided for by the law of 2000  : Economic development, Town and country planning, Social housing, Equipment, infrastructure, metropolitan services, Public transport and metropolitan arterial network, Environment (urban waste, cleaning up the atmosphere and wastewater), excluding that of artistic and cultural development. However, these powers can be exercised directly by ministries or government agencies of Quebec  : this is particularly the case in the field of investments in transport infrastructure (highways and public transport), the operating deficit of which is nevertheless covered by the metropolitan finance.

The CMM covers the territory of 82 municipalities, some of which are grouped into 12 regional county municipalities (MRCs) and 2 urban agglomerations, ie 14 inter-municipal groups that have been maintained. This area of ​​4,360 km² (57% of which is agricultural, natural and aquatic areas) seems relevant with regard to metropolitan functioning (economy and daily life of 3.6 million inhabitants) and made it possible to have a 2025 vision approved (joining the 10 best North American regions in GDP / capita), an economic development plan based on a strategy of “  metropolitan clusters  ” (elsewhere cluster or competitiveness pole), a metropolitan planning and development plan and various development plans. action which are essentially subsidy programs for operators. About half of its budget is thus committed to affordable housing (note) 1.

A recent institution, it questioned the working methods to be put in place to bring together policies considered to be of metropolitan interest, while meeting the demand of certain elected officials to maintain control over land use at the level of RCMs this (note) 2 with regard to the institutional complexity between the various local communities, but also because of the divisions and specific competences of the administrations of the province of Quebec.

The hypothesis thus emerged of another sharing of planning skills based on a «   new metropolitan planning tool   » centered on «   objects of metropolitan interest  ", factors of attractiveness and competitiveness for the city. Greater Montreal. The sectors for the protection of the built and natural heritage are thus identified, the limit of the metropolitan urbanization perimeter with regard to the protection of agriculture, and especially the optimization of the transport networks of people and goods with the corollary of densification. from the use of land to the right of stations and interchange centers, all in an integrated approach falling within the scope of the Metropolitan Community of Montreal.

For the implementation, action plans are envisaged on targeted sites accompanied by «   development agreements   » with the government of Quebec for their funding and «   monitoring   » of the whole with regard to the objectives. continued to improve the attractiveness and competitiveness of greater Montreal.

2 - The Quebec City Metropolitan Community

Compared to the CMM, the Metropolitan Community of Quebec is more modest, both in terms of territorial scope (28 municipalities for a municipal territory of 3300 km², with 5 agglomerations or MRCs, the whole bringing together 730,000 inhabitants) and of competences since ‘she did not take that of affordable housing.

In terms of planning, it has adopted its strategic vision of development, a legal obligation, which is made up of very general consensus guidelines, nevertheless highlighting the need to intensify the urbanization of the sectors served by public transport and to promote new transportation choices. It is accompanied by a plan of the major economic development issues over a 2005-2010 perspective.

Unlike greater Montreal, it seems that the flight of inhabitants outside the established metropolitan perimeter is significant, which questions the relevance of the choice of perimeter made by the Quebec government for its capital.

Even more, it is the difficulty of working together which seems to characterize the local landscape with a strong mutual mistrust. However, collective learning is taking place little by little in the field of public transport which today is not interconnected on both sides of the Saint-Laurent River  : establishment of an inter-network ticket in 2003, tariff integration under development. In the medium term, more structuring projects appear to promote public transport (reserved lanes on bridges, for example). However, with reference to the question of the relevance of the metropolitan perimeter, it should be noted that it is envisaged for all projects concerning public transport to go beyond the territory of the CMQ.

Also in the areas of spatial planning, the services are struggling to offer elements of consistency, except perhaps the work on a landscape atlas facilitating the orientations to be taken for the protection of natural and built landscapes. make the mark of this territory. However, this work is used to mediate emerging conflicts (conflicts of use between protected agriculture and residents, location of wind turbines).

The comparative presentation of the cases of Greater Montreal and Quebec City shows that elected officials seized on a legal constraint in a different way.

The elected officials of Greater Montreal, elected at the second degree who seem led by the Mayor of Montreal, being in the North American competition, have taken charge of the metropolitan fact and show a desire to pilot projects concerning the «   objects of » metropolitan interest   ”within the framework of“   development agreements   ”with the government of Quebec and its specialized agencies. A pragmatic evolution of the law is envisaged to better distribute the competence of development between the metropolitan community, normally responsible when there is a metropolitan plan, and the other levels of communities: only the strategic sites of densification around the poles would come under the responsibility of the Metropolitan Council, the rest of the territory falling under the land rights of the RCMs, agglomerations, even isolated municipalities.

This competitive positioning issue does not mobilize elected officials from Quebec, a smaller metropolis but also the seat of the provincial government. A policy of small steps is nevertheless being taken to deal with the main dysfunctions of the central zone on both sides of the Saint Lawrence River, or to resolve problems based on the first studies carried out by the metropolitan planning services. This situation is broadly similar to that of French agglomerations in the double aspect of the irrelevance of the perimeters selected and also in terms of slow and mistrustful learning of inter-municipal cooperation.

It should also be noted that the issue of developing and distributing affordable housing, although within the full competence of the Metropolitan Community in Montreal and mobilizing approximately half of its annual budget, is not considered to be «   object of interest. metropolitan   ”, a factor of attractiveness and competitiveness. Does this mean that questions of solidarity, which are too polemical, cannot mobilize outside electoral campaigns and are always pushed into the background?

3- The Lyon Saint-Etienne metropolis

Various public or institutional actors have decided to take charge of the influence and competitiveness of the Lyon metropolis with alliance systems organized in associations, the objectives of which are quite easy to find by consulting their websites.

We will mention on the one hand the Urban Region of Lyon (Rul), an association formed since 1989 between the Region, the 4 departments concerned and the main inter-municipal authorities, including of course Greater Lyon and Saint-Etienne Métropole (note) 3 , and on the other hand the network «   Grand Lyon, the entrepreneurial spirit   » bringing together the urban community, the University of Lyon and the consular chambers and employers’ organizations of the Rhône around the objective of integrating the club of the 15 leading European cities.

The Lyon urban region covers nearly 800 municipalities and has a population of 2.9 million inhabitants. The legitimacy of these actors seems to be closely linked to their more or less declared area of ​​competence, the dominant third of the territory of the Rhône-Alpes Region for one, since it includes the regional capital, Lyon, perimeter of the Greater Lyon Urban Community. for the other. This interpretation comes from the projects that these networks have set for themselves and their institutional capacity to bring them to the French context.

The planning competence of Greater Lyon shows that beyond the actions of external promotion of the Lyon capital (in which the city of Lyon itself takes an important and sometimes uncoordinated place  : see the brand «   ONLYLYON   ») Quickly brings the subject back to questions of land availability for the establishment of businesses (see above). The region’s transport organization competence appears to be decisive in the RUL project, which aims there (as in Quebec) to interconnect regional, urban and departmental transport networks, first by providing information to users and pricing, then by the organization of an express system (RER) from the rail network based on its financial capacities to guide the action of the SNCF operator.

The logistics scheme for regulating the establishment of logistics platforms and their connection with more ecological modes of transport, rail and water, is struggling to find its means of action, which only regulatory planning documents could frame the localisation. These are the responsibility of the study unions of Territorial Coherence Schemes (Scot), eight of them being brought together within the Lyon InterScot. Quickly formed to develop a planning document allowing mayors to maintain control over land rights, and therefore in a defensive mode, these unions do not seriously contribute to the common vision of the Lyon urban region.

However, the town planning services and agencies are trying to orient them towards a vision of organizing the densification of uses around stations, aided in this by the “  station contracts” that the Region finances in exchange for improved service. and the timing of trains. Another attempt is that of regulation through voids (protection of natural and agricultural landscapes).

Other actions to promote this urban region, such as tourism promotion oriented towards natural sites and built utopias, join these concerns for the protection of natural and built landscapes. But localist reflexes are often the strongest when organizing promotional events. Thus, two applications for the title of European capital of culture, those of Saint-Etienne founded among others on its city of design and Lyon, met at the last minute, ended in failure …

We will retain from this Lyon metropolitan approach the relative effectiveness in terms of sharing a vision on the territory and its elements to be valued, an approach calling on subsidiarity between actors gathered in fairly informal structures. It is difficult to speak of planning but rather of medium-term sectoral approaches where strong actors, Region or Greater Lyon, can establish their legitimacy through the direct financial resources and incentives that they can mobilize in order to lead beyond the area concerned: the improvement of regional transport services is particularly notable in this case, subject to commitments on the development of space near stations.

Other areas nonetheless escape this pragmatic dynamic  : territorial solidarity stops at the gates of inter-municipal authorities and only the improvement of intra-regional mobility allows populations excluded from the labor market in Saint-Etienne to hope to find a job. in the short term. The legal framework for spatial planning in France, supported by the local state, appears to be totally out of step with the challenges of the territories concerned.

4 - The Brussels Capital Region (RBC)

(note) 3 The Brussels-Capital Region is the result of a reorganization of the Belgian federal state in 1989, which distributes competences related to people between three linguistic communities (Flemish, French-speaking and German-speaking) and those which are decentralized at regional level (Flemish, Walloon and Brussels), including regional planning. It should be noted that certain powers of the Communities have been delegated to the Brussels Capital Region. It forms an enclave in the Flemish Region. Its perimeter is therefore intangible. It covers only 19 municipalities, including Brussels which has a largely predominant weight with a budget equivalent to that of the Region, and brings together a population of just over a million inhabitants with a substantially equivalent linguistic division, the French-speaking population. being today the most disadvantaged, largely resulting from immigration.

All agree on the fact that the metropolis goes far beyond the border of the BCR both because of the location of certain major facilities such as the international airport located in the Flemish region, or the motorway ring almost entirely located outside the perimeter, as well as classic phenomena of peri-urbanization through single-family homes, a phenomenon facilitated in Belgium by local taxation based on the land base of housing, which sharpens inter-municipal competition. Thus there are 62 municipalities with 1.6 million inhabitants in an urban area perimeter (statistical unit) or 135 municipalities with 2.9 million inhabitants in the area covered by the express transport network.

In the Belgian context, the metropolitan dialogue does not find a stage in which to be exercised outside the federal state, which is itself very weakened as a place where intercommunity political clashes are played out. However, together with the RTFB, it supports the development of the express transport network. For the BCR, it seems impossible to forge bilateral relations, even informal, with municipalities in the Flemish or Walloon regions, without the backing of these regions. However, large-scale projects competing with projects in the Brussels-Capital Region are developing there. Thus a large tertiary center between the RBC and the airport in the Flemish region.

In terms of competitiveness and international attractiveness, it is nevertheless necessary to underline the capacity to articulate within the BCR a vision of the future, carried by the international notoriety of Brussels as the seat of the Commission of the European Union, documents spatial planning and priority development projects organized according to a polycentric vision of regional functioning and supported by the Region as an institution, a partner today recognized by the Commission services. A significant modal shift in favor of public transport has taken place thanks to the closure of certain rail infrastructures. Likewise, neighborhood contracts with a strong social component make it possible to renew the city on its own by controlling the creeping tertiarization and by favoring housing, a source of tax revenue, let us remember. The only truly flagrant failure appears at the level of French-speaking education, the responsibility of the Community, where discrimination between schools is obvious.

In short, a certain efficiency of an institution with its own prerogatives and those delegated to it by the Communities, despite financial limits linked to the bases of local taxation and, above all, within inappropriate imposed borders?

5 - The cross-border region of Franco-Valdo-Geneva

A Franco-Valdo-Geneva agglomeration project is being studied on a cross-border territory of 1900 km², bringing together 204 municipalities (92 Swiss, 112 French), 770,000 inhabitants and 390,000 jobs. It stems from the obligation felt by the canton of Geneva to change scale in order to maintain its international attractiveness by finding the means to deal with the shortcomings observed, in particular in terms of land availability for companies and mobility for the daily life of employees.

The borders of the canton of Geneva are too narrow both on the Swiss side towards the canton of Vaud and particularly the district of Nyon as on the French side. A pre-existing institutional scene, the Franco-Geneva Regional Committee (CRFG), was reactivated and organized to establish an agglomeration project (note) 4 articulating a long-term vision (strong and «   sustainable   growth) Based on international activities), based on two pillars “  social organization  ” and “  spatial organization  ”, and structuring projects with organized political guidance.

The steering committee is joint (9 members for each country) and takes into account the institutional specificities of Switzerland (representatives of the 2 cantons and sub-cantonal institutions, including the City of Geneva, the association of Geneva municipalities, the City of Nyon and the district of Nyon) and France (2 representatives of the State, 1 of the Regional Council, 1 of each General Council and 4 of the communities of agglomeration or communes).

The Swiss Confederation is not represented on the steering committee but finances the development of the agglomeration project, which conditions its financial intervention for transport projects and cross-border urban projects called Perimeters of coordinated agglomeration development (PACA). The French Interministerial Delegation for Regional Planning and Competitiveness (DIACT), for its part, has retained this territory in its «   call for metropolitan projects » but does not provide any financial support. The agglomeration project is also selected by the European Union under the Interreg program.

Different PACA are currently being studied, in the form of test study mandates, on the Swiss side, or of definition markets on the French side, and some must move forward rapidly given the achievements of cross-border transport infrastructure, achieved through largely Swiss funding. Thus projects to extend the tram to Annemasse and improve CEVA stations (Cornavin - Eaux Vives - Annemasse). The challenge of these studies is to build a consensus in an approach that would be non-top-down but bottom-up …

However, faced with the dynamic driven by the canton of Geneva, the commitment on the French side and particularly the competent local authorities seems unrelated to the challenges of this territory on the fringes of the Rhône-Alpes region (note) 5 and the departments of Ain and Haute-Savoie, which combines a lack of relative attractiveness for businesses and an increase in land prices, marginalizing residents who are not frontier workers.

(note) 1 Since 2001, all the municipalities in the CMM territory have participated, according to their respective fiscal potential, in the financing of the municipal contribution paid under the Low-Rent Housing (HLM), Supplement rent (PSL) as well as programs supporting the construction of projects managed by housing cooperatives or non-profit organizations (NPOs) whether or not they have such housing units in their territory (47 municipal offices of housing and a Housing Corporation benefiting from partial coverage of the operating deficit for 27,000 low-income housing and 8,500 PSL  ; Financial participation in the creation of new units  : 11,500 financed from 2001 to 2008).

(note) 2 Which is contrary to the current law  : metropolitan communities take jurisdiction over land law as soon as a metropolitan development plan is adopted, which is the case in Montreal.

(note) 3 Greater Lyon, the Rhône-Alpes Region, Saint-Etienne Métropole, the Departments of Ain, Isère, Loire and Rhône and the agglomeration communities of Porte de Isère, Pays Viennois, Villefranche-sur-Saône, Grand Roanne and Bourg-en-Bresse

(note) 4 The Agglomeration Project is broken down into 3 scales  : «   GENEVE AGGLO 2030   »  : the political vision, building together sustainable development, a shared vision by 2030.

(note) 5 Thus no particular mention of «   large project   » concerning this territory does not appear on the website of the Region, while this mention appears in that of the Franco-Valdo agglomeration project -genevois ([(http: //www.projet-agglo.org-) www.projet-agglo.org-> (http://www.projet-agglo.org) www.projet-agglo .org])