Google looking to expand in Quebec with construction of data centre in Beauharnois

In this Sept. 24, 2019, file photo a sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif. Google Canada is hoping to expand its operations in Quebec. Monday, May 10, 2021. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

Google Canada announced on Monday its intention to acquire property in the Greater Montreal area to build a data centre facility with an estimated price tag of  $735 million.

The land Google hopes to purchase is located in Beauharnois, southwest of Montreal in the Montérégie, but is zoned agricultural.

The Quebec government said in a statement Monday that it will rezone 62. 4 hectares of land belonging to Hydro-Quebec out of the agricultural zone to allow for the initiative to go ahead.

The government also said compensation measures will be put in place to mitigate the impact of the project on the territory and its agricultural activities.

“Thus, an equivalent area of ​​land outside the agricultural zone belonging to Hydro-Québec, and adjacent to the land that Google will buy, will be included in the agricultural zone and then be ceded or entrusted in the long term to the UPA-Fondaction agricultural trust to support its activities aimed in particular at preserving Quebec’s agricultural heritage,” the statement reads.

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Both Google Canada and the Quebec government said the construction of the data centre will bring well-paid jobs to the region.

“Based on industry standards for data center builds and our own experience, once construction begins on a data center, that construction phase at its peak can provide work for 300-500 people and ultimately an operational data center can employ dozens of people, at least 20-30 in skilled roles,” Google Canada said in a blog post.

Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon welcomed the news of Google’s growth in the province.

“The expansion of the activities of a company of Google’s stature in Quebec confirms our status as one of the most dynamic and greenest technology centres in the world,” he said.

In 2004, Google opened its first office in Montreal with only three employees. Last February it announced it was growing the Montreal office with a new space on Viger Street. which is expected to welcome 1,000 employees once construction is finished.

The Beauharnois site will allow the company to meet growing demand.

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“Every day, demand for Google services is increasing and our physical infrastructure follows the same rhythm,” the company said. “Once acquired, this site in Beauharnois will ensure we have options to expand our data centre infrastructure into Canada, when our business requires it.”

Google said it also hopes to run its entire business on clean electricity by 2030.

“As one of the world’s largest producers of hydropower, Québec is an important region for helping us achieve this ambitious sustainability goal.”

There is no set timeline for the project.

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