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This decision comes at a time when the City of Prévost, a member of the Union of Municipalities, is being sued by the gas distribution company.

Under pressure, the UMQ distances itself with Éenergir

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The president of the Union of Municipalities of Quebec, Martin Damphousse. (Archive photo)

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Criticized for its proximity to Énergir, the Union of Municipalities (UMQ) is distancing itself and will financially help the City of Prévost in its legal battle against the gas company, a decision which was taken during the last board of directors of municipal organization, Radio-Canada learned.

In the last two years, Énergir, formerly Gaz Métro, has paid more than $82,000 to the UMQ, notably for various partnerships, granting of scholarships and a joint presence within a cycling team at the Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie.

The president of the UMQ, Martin Damphousse, is also president of the SÉMECS (Mixed Economy Company of the Eastern South Crown), a group made up of three regional county municipalities (MRC) which sells biogas to Énergir .

Environmental groups and professors of public administration ethics have recently denounced this proximity, especially at a time when Prévost, a member municipality of the UMQ, is facing a lawsuit from the gas company concerning its by-law limiting natural gas. /p>

A few days ago, Mr. Damphousse himself admitted that he felt uneasy about the current situation and had promised to survey the municipal world.

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The subject was also discussed during the last UMQ board of directors, which was held on December 8th. According to our information, dissatisfaction has been felt among some of the 50 members of the CA on which the mayors of large Quebec cities sit.

Some have questioned this proximity. We want to avoid finding ourselves at odds, underlined a source familiar with the matter.

Questioned by Radio-Canada, the x27;UMQ has confirmed that it no longer has a business relationship with Énergir.

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Énergir wants to be part of the decarbonization of municipalities.

No financial partnership or visibility agreement is planned between Énergir and the UMQ.

A quote from Léa Carrière, spokesperson for the UMQ.

Still according to our sources, certain mayors would have liked a strong and public position against Énergir in order to show the independence of the municipalities, but the UMQ preferred not to publicize the case too much, hoping for a happy outcome in the Prévost case.

Taking the lead, the UMQ will however review some of its private partnerships in the coming months to avoid problems with the appearance of a conflict of interest.

If the gas company is no longer a financial partner, it still participates in the decarbonization journey of municipalities alongside the UMQ, Énergir confirmed to Radio-Canada.

Alongside other energy experts, we are working to develop and improve an efficient decarbonization path, explained Elaine Arsenault, spokesperson for Énergir.

The UMQ is also preparing to submit a plan for municipalities in order to decarbonize their buildings.

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The Minister of Municipal Affairs, Andrée Laforest

Contacted ago A few days ago, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Andrée Laforest, was not available for an interview.

However, her press secretary, Élodie Masson, stressed that she is letting the members of the UMQ agree among themselves on the appropriate follow-up with Énergir.

During the board meeting, members also approved financial assistance under the municipal legal action fund which will be paid to Prévost in its battle against Énergir. The amount could reach $15,000.

At the time of the Prévost municipal council which took place on December 11, Mayor Germain applauded the decision of the UMQ members, and he also felt that his city and Énergir could finally reach an agreement. Meetings have taken place in recent weeks between the two parties.

We have a verbal agreement. There was a misunderstanding on their part, underlined the mayor, who believes in an agreement before the holiday season.

Our lawyers talk to each other to draft a text of agreement. It's nitpicking about this and that, but surely before Christmas it will be sorted; we won't hear anything more about it. […] I think our regulation will become a flagship regulation, he said.

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Founded in 1909 under the name of the Shawbridge village corporation, Prévost becomes the first municipality in Quebec to adopt a by-law aimed at the decarbonization of buildings of its territory.

Several municipalities have shown their support for Prévost since the adoption of the municipal by-law aimed at banning natural gas appliances in new constructions, but also in existing buildings (for appliances at the end of their life).

The municipal council of the City of Laval notably unanimously adopted a proposal from Councilor Alexandre Warnet to support the city of Laurentides against Énergir, he underlined in a publication made on the LinkedIn network.

Prévost, however, is not the only municipality to have adopted a by-law aimed at limiting natural gas. The City of Montreal is working on its own, and, very recently, the City of Candiac also adopted its by-law.

A few days ago, Mont -Saint-Hilaire has done the same: it will prohibit the installation of appliances operating with gaseous fuels in buildings on its territory.

In the meantime, Énergir is taking steps to contact municipal officials. According to the Registry of Lobbyists, the company makes representations to various government authorities, in certain cases in collaboration with Hydro-Québec.

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In the last two years, Énergir, formerly Gaz Métro, has paid more than $82,000 to the UMQ, notably for various partnerships, the granting of scholarships and a joint presence within a cycling team at the Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie.

Énergir's goal is to ensure that the government recognizes the place of natural gas and renewable natural gas in Quebec's energy portfolio.

Several cities are covered by this mandate, such as Montreal, Laval, Prévost, Boucherville, Candiac, Longueuil, La Prairie, Mont-Saint-Hilaire or Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville.

Representatives of Énergir will also meet the towns of Candiac and Mont-Saint-Hilaire very soon, the company confirmed to Radio-Canada.

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