Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante is hoping her proposed social housing bylaw will be a game changer for low-income earners.
“We’re really confident that this bylaw is actually going to create more affordable and social and family units,” Plante said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Plante unveiled an ambitious plan that puts the onus on real estate developers to include social or affordable housing in all new multi-unit construction starts.
Promoters will be required to reserve 20 per cent of all new units for social housing — which is government subsidized — or pay a in-lieu fee to the city. For each real estate project, 10 to 15 per cent will have to be affordable housing units for low-income earners or developers will have to make an equivalent financial contribution to the city.
Developers will also have to reserve five per cent of all units for family housing, which means units with three bedrooms or more. They can also offer land to Montreal for social housing construction.
“We’re going to create much more options for Montrealers,” Plante said.
Montreal’s business community is worried that the mayor’s plan to get more people into affordable housing could backfire.
“The developers will be paying and then it will be reflected in the price so anyone buying in Montreal will chip in,” Michel Leblanc, CEO of Montreal’s Chamber of Commerce, told Global News.
Critics fear that the social housing requirements could jack up the price of new homes and drive potential buyers off the island. Developers could follow — especially as new transit projects such as the REM are being built.
“In 10 minutes you will be able to move from the south shore to downtown Montreal so we see the competition,” said André Boisclair, CEO of the Urban development institute of Québec.
City officials insist demand for downtown housing is strong and will remain so and the proposed bylaw will help low income earners.
“Affordability is super important,” said Craig Sauvé, a Montreal Executive Committee Member.
The mayor is hoping to have the bylaw enforced by 2021.