04/09/2015 05:13 EDT | Updated 04/09/2015 05:59 EDT

1,000 Wealthy Chinese Entrepreneurs To Get Their Own Montreal Enclave

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A Beijing-based holding company is moving forward with a plan to build a $1-billion commercial and residential centre in Montreal’s southern suburbs with the aim of attracting 1,000 Chinese entrepreneurs to the area.

A source close to the project told Huffington Post Quebec an official announcement will be made in the coming weeks in the presence of Canada’s ambassador to China.

The project from Min Ying Holdings will take shape in Longueuil, on Montreal’s south shore and near a sizeable Chinese community in nearby Brossard.

It will involve the construction of a smaller version of Yiwu International Trade City, a commodity exchange and “consumers’ paradise” south of Shanghai, and will also include development of housing for an expected 1,000 Chinese entrepreneurs and their families. Initial plans had homes starting at $800,000 — luxury prices by Montreal standards.

The source also said a change will be made to the quota for entrepreneur immigrants coming to Canada, the apparent result of lobbying by former Bloc Quebecois MP Roger Pomerleau.

The idea behind the project is to make Chinese-Canadian trade relations easier, project insiders say.

“Business people from across Canada and the U.S. will travel to [the Montreal area] to conclude their agreements rather than traveling to China," an unnamed source told TVA Nouvelles in 2013.

Pomerleau said the idea is to bring 1,000 Chinese companies to Montreal “to trade directly by eliminating middlemen. … It would be like a sales office, a showcase for the products. All production is done in China."

An influx of wealthy people could create significant economic benefits for the Montreal area, a source told HuffPost Quebec. "These people are going to want to buy big houses and BMWs.”

Critics of the project have argued it could harm local retailers, and question Min Ying Holdings on the basis that the company is registered in Macau, a known tax haven.

With files from Patrick Bellerose, Huffington Post Quebec

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