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City of Montreal announces new social housing project for Lachine East

Click to play video: 'New social housing complex announced for Lachine'
New social housing complex announced for Lachine
WATCH: Construction is set to begin for a new social housing project in Lachine. Work to build the complex will be accelerated to meet the growing housing needs of some of Montreal’s most vulnerable tenants. While housing rights’ groups laud the move, they argue the province still isn’t doing enough to prioritize social housing. Global’s Phil Carpenter reports.

The City of Montreal is fast-tracking construction on a new social housing project in Lachine East, the first phase of the ecological neighbourhood project announced last summer.

It is to be a a six-storey complex on 6th Avenue between Saint-Louis Street and Saint-Joseph Boulevard that will have just over 90 single and family units. The building will be part of a larger project to erect about 600 homes on that street, says Pierre Barrieau, a consultant for the developer, Solano.

“On the vacant lot across the street is where the regular market, either condo or rentals, will be,” he explains to reporters during an event to announce the project.

He says there’ll be about 500 in all on that spot on 6th Avenue and Museum Road facing the social housing units, where a Toyota dealership used to be. According to Montreal mayor Valérie Plante, the aim is to have a mix of residents in the area.

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“In this neighbourhood we want to make sure that all different kinds of people can live here,” she tells reporters. “It’s one of the strengths of the borough.”

Though the ecological neighbourhood plan, which includes nearly 8,000 housing units among other amenities on a 70 hectare site, still has regulatory hurdles to pass, the city was able to start the social housing project in the meantime.

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“Because of Projet de loi 31 we can accelerate it,” borough mayor Maya Vodanovic points out. “We can do it before and not wait until it’s all adopted.”

Bill 31, the province’s new housing legislation, allows municipalities to bypass local regulations to approve housing projects, under certain conditions.

“This is helping us accelerate the process of this project, but all projects,” Barrieau points out, “so that’s creating a larger wave that’s coming behind us.”

Click to play video: 'Trash cans to return to Lachine Canal in Montreal'
Trash cans to return to Lachine Canal in Montreal

Housing experts like Catherine Lussier of the advocacy group, Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU), agree that the Lachine project is good news. But they warn it’s not enough and that the province is not prioritizing social housing.

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“There’s no programme that’s dedicated to social housing,” she argues, “and that would really help them to deliver more than just a few projects.”

As a result, she adds, there are a number of other social housing projects that have been left uncompleted, and the future of others uncertain.

“Sometimes we have the field, we have the buildings but we don’t have the programme, we don’t have the money that is necessary to build those social housing projects that are waiting,” she told Global News.

Construction on the Lachine East social housing complex is scheduled to start in 2025.

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