Growing Concern: The Evolution of Urban Agriculture in the Context of Montréal, a Gentrifying City
Urban Agriculture , Urban Political Ecology , Eco-Gentrification , Montréal , Negotiated Planning
Urban agriculture is a growing trend in cities worldwide but there is concern in the literature that urban agriculture can contribute to the phenomenon of eco-gentrification. Eco-gentrification is the process whereby the environmental improvement of a neighbourhood increases land values, contributing to the gentrification process. When this occurs, urban agricultural projects increase land value and may attract new residents as part of the gentrification process, which can then displace older and less-affluent residences in the neighbourhood. Montréal, Québec is one such city where eco-gentrification may be occurring. Montréal is home to a rich history of urban agriculture and some of the world’s first rooftop gardens, and urban agriculture is only growing in popularity. My main research question asks whether the eco-gentrification process is occurring in Montréal through urban agriculture. I am particularly interested in knowing why developers might be interested in including urban agriculture and how the local city government is implicated in this process. To answers these questions, I drew on theoretical insights from urban political ecology and also grey literature from government, industry and non-profit sources. I also conducted 15 semi-structured interviews with key informants, including developers, urban planners, and community actors. I found that there was some interest from developers to include urban agriculture in their projects, but there were many challenges associated with them doing so, especially around cost and logistics. The push for urban agricultural integration into new developments was found to often be instigated through negotiated planning, and through community groups and residents in certain situations. In addition, this study showed significant concern from community residents about the possibility of urban agriculture exacerbating already existing gentrification problems in Montréal. However, there is a plethora of different forms of urban agriculture that exist in Montréal, all with different ii aims, levels of community involvement, and consequence. Prior research has demonstrated that intention and method matter when it comes to the consequences of individual projects. Future research should study the impacts on particular neighbourhoods particularly where public incentive through funding or bylaw amendment is offered.