Montreal Must Implement New Bill 31 Powers 

At the peak of lease renewal season and with July 1st looming, Ensemble Montréal is urging the Plante administration to use the new powers granted to it under the adoption of Bill 31: An Act to amend various legislative provisions with respect to housing. The party believes that new municipal powers to override zoning and urban planning bylaws could rapidly increase the supply of housing across the city and remedy the 27% drop in new construction, thus easing pressure on the housing market. 

For example, variances under Bill 31 make it possible to rapidly replace an existing building without having to obtain an urban planning advisory committee opinion or a demolition committee authorization, bypassing possible referendums. The Official Opposition is also asking that these new powers be delegated to the boroughs, so that they can ensure that any variances granted are socially acceptable and respect the specific characteristics of the built environment. 

“It’s a race against time for the City of Montreal, as it only has five years to use this superpower. The housing crisis is an exceptional situation that calls for exceptional measures. I call on the Plante administration to get moving and become a pioneer among municipalities by seizing this opportunity to accelerate housing starts,” said Julien Hénault-Ratelle, housing spokesperson for the Official Opposition at Montreal City Hall, at a press conference held Thursday.

The administration broke its promises, and we’re in crisis

Ensemble Montréal believes recourse to the exceptional measures provided for in Bill 31 is all the more urgent given that the Plante administration is not meeting its own housing targets. The By-Law for a Diverse Metropolis, touted as an essential lever to achieve its promise to build 60,000 affordable housing units over 10 years, has delivered only one social housing project. 

Added to all this are the large-scale, high-potential projects that have been stagnating for years: the southern section of the Îlot Voyageur is still not out to tender, the Bridge-Bonaventure project has produced only one master plan in six years, and at the Hippodrome site, they continue to race around in circles seeking a vision. The picture’s no better for the Cellule facilitatrice and Chantier Montréal abordable projects which, in the absence of any progress reports, seem fruitless so far.

As for tenants, they’ll have to suffer patiently in the face of abusive rent increases, since the Projet Montréal administration has also failed to keep its promise to introduce a public municipal rent registry.

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