MONTREAL -- Social housing should be built on the site of the old Blue Bonnets race track, community groups argued on Tuesday.

Jennifer Auchinleck, a community organizer at the Corporation de developpement communautaire de Cote-des-Neiges, wants development on the site to be affordable because local rents are too high for many.

"This is a huge piece of public land. We really need to see a response to housing needs in the neighbourhood. So specifically a minimum of 2500 social housing units, the rest of the site we'd like to see truly affordable housing," she said.

The city of Montreal is still in the consultation phase of developing the site and hasn't committed to a number of social housing units, but in October, the Plante administration proposed that the new community would be car-free.

But on Tuesday, community groups urged the city to respond to a housing shortage and to add schools and daycares to a development plan.

More than half of Cote-des-Neiges residents are new immigrants, and 35 per cent are low income. Any plan for the Blue Bonnets site should help relieve the nearly-2500 residents who are on the list for social housing.

A development plan for the site will be ready by 2023, the city said.