In 2009, the group Mes Aïeux invited citizens to leave a message for future generations in the tree of hope and to make a donation to the Centre to "build towards the future without jeopardizing it". Photo courtesy of LG2.

Original idea and collaboration

Employees and volunteers at Equiterre had been working in an unsuitable environment for several years. In 2002, Equiterre’s management decided to move its offices in order to offer its artisans a healthy, accessible, safe and inspiring working space. Even before the vegetable-based ink confirming the decision had dried on the 100% recycled paper, Equiterre had made a second major decision: it would turn its moving plans into an educational project. The seeds for the Centre for Sustainable Development had been sown. 

Equiterre, however, had no money, no lot, nor did they have expertise in property development! Because of this, they had to enlist the help of partners of all kinds. Property developers, lawyers and building managers gave time; governments, companies and foundations gave funds; citizen groups gave the project its soul, an essential tool for overcoming challenges.

In total, more than 45 partners and private sponsors contributed to the development and financing ($27 million) of the Centre, including the ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP), the city of Montreal, the arondissement Ville-Marie, the Société de développement commercial du Vieux-Montréal, the ministère des Affaires municipales, des Régions et de l’Occupation du territoire as well as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Hydro-Québec is the Centre’s main sponsor.

Beyond constructing the building, a vast coalition of organisations had to be formed, often with groups that didn’t have the reputation of working together. Partners also had to be convinced of the reliability of non-profit organisations. Indeed, given their mandate, these organisations rarely meet the strict criteria of banks designed for private businesses. The excellent reputation of these groups, the support of one of the largest private foundations in Canada and the vast knowledge of the Caisse d’économie solidaire made this feat possible. 

Tree of hope and grassroots mobilisation 

In May 2009, a grassroots mobilisation campaign was launched with the group Mes Aïeux as ambassadors to the project [French only]. On this occasion, the Centre invited the citizens of Quebec to leave a message for future generations. They were asked to write about what they did every day to make the world a better place and to share their thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams.

The Centre has made a commitment to store these messages and to deliver them to the next seven generations; a first time in 25 years, then in 50 years, and so on. After all, building towards the future without jeopardizing it involves words as much as actions.

Read all messages (PDF) [French only].

Groundbreaking and inauguration

Planning, estimating costs, preparing meetings, signing contracts, researching: thousands of hours were invested…

Finally, in March 2010, a groundbreaking ceremony announced the start of construction [French only].

Since October 2011, the construction site has given way to an environmental and technological showcase in the heart of the Quartier des spectacles. It is a place to meet and share ideas for organisations holding events there as well as for citizens participating in their activities.