Skip to main content

‘Together, we can achieve the extraordinary’

Municipal mayors and Concordia researchers came together to present on Quebec’s green energy future on January 31
February 16, 2024
By Ian Harrison, BComm 01

A group of professionals stand for a portrait in an office setting From left: Martin Damphousse, Mayor of Varennes; Maja Vodanovic, BFA 94, Mayor of Lachine; President Graham Carr; Dominique Bérubé, vice-president, Research and Graduate Studies; Olivier Desmarais, senior vice-president, Power Corporation; Karim Zaghib, CEO, Volt-age; Paul Chesser, BA 94, GrDip 97, vice-president, Advancement; Paul Genest, senior vice-president, Power Corporation; Ursula Eicker, director, Next-Generation Cities Institute; Michel Angers, Mayor of Shawinigan.

The capacity of Concordia researchers to work with community stakeholders across the province of Quebec on green energy solutions was showcased at a recent event on campus.

Held at the Next-Generation Cities Institute (NGCI), the event — a series of presentations by Ursula Eicker, Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Cities, and three municipal mayors — was part of a milestone Campaign for Concordia celebration: a gift of $4 million from Power Corporation of Canada announced by President Graham Carr.

The gift will support Volt-age — a project first made public last April when the Government of Canada awarded Concordia the largest research grant in the university’s 50-year history.

The Concordia-led initiative will seek to innovate novel energy sources, secure new infrastructure and deliver affordable, green energy under diverse conditions across Quebec and Canada.

VIEW PHOTOS: Concordia celebrated the new gift at a ceremony on January 31, 2024.

A proof of concept for urban renewal

Mayor of Lachine Maja Vodanovic, BFA 94, a close collaborator of Eicker’s at Concordia, spoke about her borough’s Lachine-Est eco-neighbourhood project and her hope that it can become a proof of concept for urban renewal.

The redevelopment of the former industrial area of close to 64 hectares will result in a mixed-use district with strong public transportation access, integrated green infrastructure and a possible new energy source — geothermal.

The success of such ambitious projects, remarked Vodanovic, largely depends on networks of partnerships “that reach across civil society and include key stakeholders, such as research universities.”

Three professionals are seated in blue chairs appear to be participating in a question and answer period. Mayors Vodanovic, Damphousse and Angers answering questions following their presentations.

‘Spoiled by hydroelectric power’

The city of Shawinigan, once a cradle of industry in Quebec and Canada, has undergone a radical shift since the departure of manufacturing plants and the secure union jobs that left with them. Concordia has been a valuable partner in this transition, noted Mayor Michel Angers, a reference to a thematic campus centered on energy transition unveiled last May.

“When I announced this collaboration to a group of students and teachers at the only English-language high school we have left in Shawinigan, they were visibly excited to know that Concordia was actively involved with their city,” said Angers. “I want to especially thank Graham Carr for his sincerity and vision, and Power Corporation, for its involvement with the Volt-age project.”

Damphousse, the Mayor of Varennes, spoke about the Montreal suburb’s aggressive green energy plans, which includes a $1-billion biofuel plant, and alluded to the work of  Volt-age CEO Karim Zaghib, whose research at Concordia has helped make Quebec a pioneer of lithium-ion battery innovation.

As president of the Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ), Damphousse also outlined the goals of Plan Énergie. Adopted last September, the plan empowers municipal stakeholders to help the Government of Quebec on a range of energy and energy consumption reforms.

“Historically, we have been spoiled by the overabundance and relative affordability of hydroelectric power in Quebec, but it is urgent that we innovate, diversify and change our behaviours,” said Damphousse.

“This effort has to involve partners like Concordia, all levels of government, community groups and ordinary citizens, and private partners like Power Corporation.”

Back to top

© Concordia University