- Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says the city council will force developers to cancel plans for a condo tower because they will not include social housing after initially promising to do so.
- Instead, developers will only be able to construct a 4-storey building.
Mayor Valérie Plante is holding developers accountable after they scrapped a proposed social housing project to be included in a new development at the former site of the Montreal Children's Hospital. There was an agreement to build a 180-unit social and affordable housing building but the developers abandoned the plan to build even more luxury condos.
High Rise Montreal, in partnership with Batimo, Claridge, and Devimco, accepted the city's condition to build social housing two years ago.
The sprawling development is set to include luxury condos, public spaces, and a library. Social housing, however, wasn't factored into their plans despite the agreement.
After purchasing the space from the government and the city back when Denis Coderre was still mayor, developers began planning for the project that originally did not include social housing. Mayor Plante quickly changed that and developers agreed to include the 180 units.
The city is responding by blocking the construction of a sixth luxury condo tower and is telling developers that they can now only build according to their original plan. This news is extremely disheartening for those who were hoping downtown Montreal would offer more affordable housing.
Mayor Plante told CBC News that while the agreement was never legally binding, she was hoping that the developers would go ahead with building social housing.
Negotiations between the city and High Rise Montreal were ongoing and in fact, quite heated leading up to this decision.
In June, the city of Montreal installed a bylaw that requires developers that build a building more than 49 units to reserve 20% of the space for social and affordable housing.
Devmico, another developer on the same project, scrapped plans to build a public elementary school on the site last year.
Devmico claims that they couldn't wait around for the government to approve their designs so they cancelled the construction of the school.
In a statement, the Peter-McGill Community Council,* a non-profit dedicated to bettering life for residents of the downtown neighbourhood, said that the area "is suffering from a growing shortage of social and affordable housing, due in part to the rapid construction of condos over the last few years."
The group "welcomes the public announcement made by the Mayor regarding the social housing tower on the Children’s Square with optimism."
"The inclusion of social housing for families on the site would effectively guarantee the social acceptability of the Children’s Square project, especially in conjunction with the construction of the Peter-McGill cultural & community centre."
New plans have apparently scaled-down the size of the planned public green space, as well.
Developers claim that this new project will be the "most sought-after" real estate in downtown Montreal.
The large-scale project is set to be ready sometime in 2020.
It's no secret that Montreal is in desperate need of social housing and this news is sure to be disappointing for advocates who wanted to see more affordable developments in an ocean of luxury condo buildings.
*This article has been updated.