Moving mountains in Montreal to tackle the housing crisis

About the Affordable Cities blog series and #BetterUrbanHousing
People living in cities across the world are facing the effects of the housing affordability and cost-of-living crisis. OECD Champion Mayors recently endorsed the new “OECD Brussels Blueprint for Affordable cities and Housing for All” at the Brussels Urban Summit where they shared innovative solutions to tackle these challenges and drive more inclusive economic growth. They continue to drive efforts that shape a more affordable, equitable and resilient urban future.

Montreal is facing an unprecedented housing and affordability crisis at a time when purchasing power is declining and the real-estate industry is facing major economic challenges. Against this backdrop, we must deploy bold and ambitious measures to improve affordability in the city.

Our administration has made housing one of its priorities since taking office in 2017, supporting the construction and renovation of thousands of homes. We can never say it enough, “having a decent, safe roof over your head is not a privilege – it’s a right”.

To meet the scale of the needs, we have made unprecedented investments in the city’s capital expenditure plan. Over the next 10 years, we will invest more than $600 million to acquire land for social and affordable housing projects, as well as residential buildings to preserve their affordability. We have also introduced programmes and provided subsidies to facilitate access to affordable home ownership for thousands of Montrealers.

Securing the supply of social and affordable housing

When it comes to social and affordable housing, everyone must pitch in if our efforts are to bear fruit. Montréal has adopted the By-law for a Diverse Metropolis, which requires all developments of 5 dwellings to include 20% social housing, 20% affordable housing and 20% family housing. This is vital to preserve the diversity of our neighbourhoods and to promote access to suitable housing for as different groups.

We also work closely with our partners to curb renovictions (the eviction of tenants to allow for large scale renovations), protect rooming houses (shared residences) and to control tourist rentals. In addition, we are using our right of pre-emption (right of first refusal on property sales) to acquire a number of properties that are suitable for the development of social and affordable housing, as well as residential buildings whose affordability needs to be protected.

Building bridges between stakeholders

Despite all the measures deployed by the city, Montréal will not be able to solve the housing crisis on its own. That’s why we’ve decided to bring together the stakeholders in Montréal’s real-estate ecosystem to identify new solutions for accelerating real-estate development and building complete, inclusive neighbourhoods.

In particular, we have created the Montréal abordable initiative, which brings together dozens of organisations recognised for their expertise in the real estate, financing and social-economy sectors. We have also set up a Facilitation Unit, made up of several key players from the private sector, to speed up the approval process for property projects and reduce the administrative obstacles they may face.

As a municipal authority, we have a vital role to play in property development. We are best placed to identify development opportunities that simultaneously meet our objectives of density, mixed use, climate resilience, urban integration and quality of life.

We are acting with determination to protect the existing housing stock and increase the supply of housing while creating new neighbourhoods that are inclusive, resilient and eco-responsible. The challenges are great, but so is our determination. As long as cities continue to be ambitious, innovative and resilient in their actions to tackle the housing crisis, we will prevail.

About the OECD Champion Mayors Initiative
Created in 2016, the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Initiative is a global coalition of mayors who meet on a regular basis to share their experience in the pursuit of inclusive growth in cities. Since its inception, over 100 different mayors from around the world have joined the Initiative, contributing their voice to the global debate, and making major strides in their cities toward youth empowerment, sustainable climate policy and support for SMEs. The Champion Mayors will meet at the Brussels Urban Summit on 13 June to drive change on improving housing affordability and cost of living for residents in their cities.

This blog is also available in french.

Mayor of Montreal | + posts

First elected city councillor in Saint-Marie district in 2013, Valérie Plante was chosen by Projet Montréal members to lead the party in 2016. Her contagious passion and energy have helped her rally people around her progressive vision. Deeply committed to participatory democracy, Valérie Plante has a bold plan for Montréal centred on increased access to public transport, improved urban planning and public services, the economy and the environment. Her commitment is to bridge the gap on these issues for all 19 city boroughs.

She became mayor of Montréal on November 5, 2017. As mayor of Montréal, Valérie Plante is a member of various advisory committees and governing boards including: Chair of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM), Executive committee member of the Union des Municipalités du Québec (UMQ), Governing board member of Montréal international, Governing board member of Fondation Montréal inc., Member of the Big City Mayors’ Caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Co-president of Metropolis, and ICLEI’s Global Ambassador for Local Biodiversity.