Ms. Mary Deros, Ms. Stéphanie Valenzuela and Mr. Sonny Moroz, elected members of the Official Opposition at Montréal City Hall, are launching a heartfelt cry that three social housing projects promised by the administration be built at long last in their respective districts. In total, more than 180 units are currently on ice as a result of changes in priority at the Service de l’Habitation.
In Parc-Extension, the situation concerns a building located at 8600-8618 Avenue de l’Épée, which was acquired by Montréal in 2019 at a cost of $1.8 million. About thirty social and community housing units were to be developed in collaboration with the Brick by Brick organization. However, although the project was approved by the Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension urban planning advisory committee last February and the demolition of the building was voted on in April by the borough, nothing is moving.
“I’m extremely disappointed for the families of Parc-Extension who have been waiting for these units for three years. The project is well underway. I don’t understand why the funding isn’t there in a neighbourhood that’s in dire need of social housing and where the latest social housing project dates back to 2015,” said Mary Deros, City Councillor for the Parc-Extension district.
In the Snowdon and Darlington districts, the 121 units that were to be developed in the former Armstrong factory and the 30 or so units at 2520 chemin Bates, dedicated to people with special needs, have also been slow to materialize. In the latter case, notably, ground-breaking was expected in the spring of 2021.
“At the Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce council meeting on June 20, Mayor Katahwa stated that the two social housing projects were postponed because they ‘weren’t ready’. However, when we talk to the organizations, they tell us the opposite. We’re talking about more than 150 units in the most densely populated borough, where more than 2,400 households are on the waiting list for social housing,” said Stephanie Valenzuela, City Councillor for the Darlington District.
To the Opposition councillors, these needs are fundamental and must be prioritized. Several questions arise: Is there any follow-up with the organizations involved, so that they’re not left in the dark? What are the possible financing alternatives to get these units built? Does the administration intend to put the projects back on the priority list? Will the funding voted by City Council under the Contribution Fund for Including Affordable and Social Housing remain available for these projects?
“I find it hard to see how the administration can promise to build 60,000 units of affordable housing when they’re having trouble delivering units they promised almost four years ago. We have to review our methods, especially in terms of financial arrangements, otherwise we’ll find ourselves stuck like we are now in a situation where everyone’s passing the buck,” concluded Sonny Moroz, Official Opposition Housing Critic and City Councillor for Snowdon.
Ensemble Montréal councillors have requested a meeting with the city’s housing department in order to obtain more details on the obstacles encountered in implementing these projects.