Google plans to build $735 million CAD data centre in Québec

Google

Google has unveiled plans to build a proposed $735 million CAD data centre in Beauharnois, Québec.

According to a company blog post, Google intends to acquire property in Beauharnois, which lies southwest to Montréal, and build the facility following government approval and the completion of certain conditions. Google said the new data centre would employ at least 20 people in skilled roles.

“The growth of a company the scale of Google in Québec confirms our status as one of the world’s most dynamic and greenest technology hubs.”
– Pierre Fitzgibbon

The Québec government issued a statement Monday noting the plot of land Google hopes to acquire comprises 62.4 hectares and is currently owned by Hydro-Québec. The land in question is currently zoned as agricultural land, and the province is planning compensation measures in order to mitigate any repercussions the project may have on agricultural activities.

This move represents Google’s latest to expand in the province of Québec. The tech giant’s activities in the province data back 17 years, when Google opened its first Montréal office.

Google said Québec is an important region for helping the company achieve some of its sustainability goals, as Québec is one of the largest producers of hydropower. Google is looking to run its entire business on clean electricity every hour of every day by 2030.

“Once the proposed project commences, it is estimated to generate well-paid jobs, both during construction and in the operation of the future data center,” said Pierre Fitzgibbon, Québec’s Minister of Economy and Innovation.“The growth of a company the scale of Google in Québec confirms our status as one of the world’s most dynamic and greenest technology hubs.”

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Since opening its first Montréal office in 2004, Google has made subsequent commitments to the province’s tech ecosystem, such as partnering with organizations like Mila. Google has donated $3 million USD to Mila so far, with its latest grant committed in November. In February 2020, Google announced plans to open a new office in Montréal, which is expected to house 1,000 employees once completed. That was part of a plan to open a total of three new offices in Canada.

A report conducted by Public First in 2020 found Google’s search and advertising products helped generate an estimated $23 billion in economic activity for more than 500,000 businesses in Canada in 2019. This economic impact is roughly equivalent to 1.1 percent of Canada’s entire GDP.

The news of the data centre also comes as Google has opened up a number of its typically US-focused accelerator programs to Canadian founders and startups. Most recently, Google for Startups selected two Canadian startups to participate in the first cohort of its climate change-focused accelerator program. This all comes a year after Google opened its first Canada-focused accelerator in Kitchener-Waterloo, though the program ran virtually last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.