First housing summit in Laval, Que. looks at solutions to make homes more affordable

Click to play video: 'First ever Quebec housing summit searches for solutions to housing crisis'
First ever Quebec housing summit searches for solutions to housing crisis
WATCH: Leaders in Quebec's housing industry are trying to come up with solutions to deal with the ongoing housing crisis – Aug 26, 2022

Housing activists, mayors, academics and many others gathered in Laval, Que., for the first housing summit to find solutions to the crisis that has plagued the province for years.

Low vacancy rates, soaring rents and increasing home values are pushing many people, including those in the middle class, out of the home ownership market, according to Stéphan Corriveau, executive director of the Community Housing Transformation Centre.

“It’s not a one single magic wand that would fix it all,” he told Global News.

One of the issues Corriveau and others say needs to be addressed is a lack of affordable housing units –tens of thousands are needed across Quebec.

Aref Salem, Montreal Opposition Leader, says the site of the old Hippodrome should have been developed years ago as was originally promised.

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“There is thousands of units that we can have there but there is nothing happening,” he told Global News.

Click to play video: 'Housing advocates calling for action after broken promises for Blue Bonnets Raceway'
Housing advocates calling for action after broken promises for Blue Bonnets Raceway

Corriveau says real estate speculators artificially drive up the value of homes by purchasing multiple units but leave them vacant, squeezing out other potential buyers.

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“They cannot get a house anymore at a reasonable price. Would it to be to buy it or to rent it, it’s almost becoming impossible,” he said.

READ MORE: Montreal home sales down 18% from last July: Quebec real estate association

The Laval mayor proposes a special tax be levied on the owners of unoccupied housing units.

“What I would like to propose is (to) tax those people to give an incentive to use the lands instead of just keeping it, waiting for the cost to rise,” said Mayor Stéphane Boyer at the summit.

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There is also a consideration to increase the capital gains tax on the sales of secondary (or more) homes by a single owner and use the money to help first-time buyers purchase a home.

“If you think of housing as an investment, well at the end of the day, people who can’t invest end up having nothing,” Corriveau said.

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