Laval City-Watch

Council zoning decision paves the way for development of Trudel Studios

Elected officials from both sides of the Laval city council floor enthusiastically greeted council’s overwhelming decision last week to approve a zoning change in the Saint-François district that will allow the development of a sprawling film production complex to be known as Trudel Studios on a tract of land currently owned by the city.

During the same council session, the council members were presented with the report of a commission that oversaw a month-long public consultation on related issues which took place from December last year until this past January, while hearing views from 360 residents.

New zoning regulations

Council’s decision to approve rezoning for the project, which was first proposed by its developer two years ago, took into account new zoning code norms which came into effect in November 2022. They require that more green space should be part of the film studio project once it is completed.

A conceptual rendering of what the Trudel Studios main building might look like, which was submitted by the developer at an early stage of the project.

“After consulting the population twice rather than just once, we are giving the green light for the creation of this important cinema production complex in Laval,” Mayor Stéphane Boyer said in a statement. “Should it be built, this project will enable the creation of hundreds of jobs, while also developing an altogether new industry on Laval’s territory.

Most residents in favour

“It should be recalled that since the very first time it was presented to the population, the project was enhanced to include more green space and to improve the integration of the building into the sector,” he continued. “The public consultations and the surveys done in the past few months demonstrate that a majority of the citizens support this project.”

During the public consultation, 243 interventions were officially registered, including 32 during public meetings and 211 which were submitted in writing. Out of all the interventions, 173 expressed approval for the project, 21 were neutral and 49 were against.

Some unsettled issues

The mayor said he remains fully aware that some of the people responding during the consultation were against the project. “If a project of this size potentially involves major benefits, I understand that it can also raise preoccupations,” he said, noting that the city plans to undertake more studies starting this year to ensure the harmonious integration of the project into its surroundings, some of which are agricultural.

Before the project can proceed, it will need to be certified as conforming to provincial and Montreal Metropolitan Community (CMM) urban planning regulations. As well, the developer will have to submit detailed plans before obtaining a construction permit.

Major production centre

When completed, Trudel Studios is expected to be among the largest film production complexes in North America, with seven interior studios, including one that measures 60,000 square feet, making it the largest of its kind on the North American continent.

In the meantime, among those opposing the project is a lobby of people who object to farm land in east-end Laval being put to a use other than for the cultivation of agricultural products. Should the project continue as planned, the city would sell the 2.2 million-square-foot lot for more than $32 million to the promoter, Michel Trudel, a former senior management official at Mel’s Cité du Cinéma studios in Montreal.

Councillor Piché in favour

The local city councillor for Saint-François, Isabelle Piché who sits with the Action Laval opposition party, issued a press release last week saying she would support the project, while taking into account that the majority of residents from the area appear to be in favour, based on a survey Action Laval conducted in the area.

“I cannot ignore the fact that the majority of the citizens of my district are in favour of the by-law project, although I nonetheless took the time to raise several concerning issues that came up in the letters and memoranda that the commission received,” she said. “I find it very important for these issues to be included in the recommendations to the executive-committee,” she added.