Activists in Côte-des-Neiges push borough to commit to more social housing in Blue Bonnets project

Protesters in Côte-des-Neiges want the borough to commit to more social housing in the area. Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. Global News

Activists gathered in Côte-des-Neiges Monday evening and made their way to borough council to deliver a petition with nearly 2,000 signatures to push councillors to up their commitment to social housing on the former site of Montreal’s Hippodrome, also known as Blue Bonnets.

READ MORE: Montreal’s Hippodrome housing development moves forward

The borough has promised 20 per cent of any future project built on the land would become social housing.

Protesters say they want at least 2,500 social housing units because it’s the number of households on a waiting list to access social housing in the area and the need is growing.

“It’s enormous, to be frank,” said Claire Abraham, a community organizer with Project Genesis.

“We’re calling for 2,500 social housing units but really, we consider that a minimum if we’re going to respond to the needs of the neighborhood.”

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Abraham says that in Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame de Grâce alone, 30 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line.

“There are more than 7,000 households that pay at least half their income towards the rent.”

READ MORE: Project Genesis pushes to replace Montreal’s derelict Hippodrome with social housing

Snowdon city councillor Marvin Rotrand said it would be years before any development can be done on the site. Cavendish Boulevard needs to be expanded and infrastructure needs to be developed before the land can be sold, he said.

But Abraham insists now is the time for the borough to step up its efforts.

“Today marks one year since the Projet Montreal administration was elected,” she said. “So we feel like it’s high time for our elected representatives to push for this sort of local development in our neighbourhood.”

Global News reached out to borough’s mayor, Sue Montgomery, but she was not available for comment.

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