A committee of scientists advising Quebec's environment minister is calling for a moratorium on urban sprawl and a halt to highway projects in the province's six metropolitan regions.

Highway projects are a major part of the CAQ government's plans. The government is currently advocating for a new Quebec City-Levis tunnel, the third link, which would have consequences for urban sprawl.

In an opinion sent to Environment Minister Benoit Charette and made public Monday, the Advisory Committee on Climate Change argues that a moratorium on the loss of natural environments is necessary. It bases its recommendations on the latest alarming report of the United Nations on climate change.

The committee is concerned that the area of natural environments in southern Quebec is decreasing at a rate of 0.6 per cent per year.

According to the committee, highway capacity must not be increased in the six major urban regions until a public assessment mechanism has been set up to take into account mobility, urban planning and transportation supply.

At the end of April, the Ordre des urbanistes criticized the CAQ government's discourse on the third link.

The president of the Order, Sylvain Gariépy, called out Charette for having maintained that the construction of a tunnel between Quebec City and Levis would constitute "a brake on urban sprawl."

He also blamed Transport Minister François Bonnardel for suggesting that "dormitory neighbourhoods" far from employment centres did not constitute urban sprawl.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 9, 2022.