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Despite the housing shortage, building in the province is an obstacle course: Quebec Chambers of Commerce

Quebec's Chambers of Commerce say that building a house in the province has become a difficult 'obstacle course' and that construction projects need to be streamlined. (Darren Calabrese, The Canadian Press) Quebec's Chambers of Commerce say that building a house in the province has become a difficult 'obstacle course' and that construction projects need to be streamlined. (Darren Calabrese, The Canadian Press)
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The Quebec federation of chambers of commerce says building housing has become "an obstacle course," even though there is a shortage of accommodation.

The federation met the press on Monday, along with three chambers of commerce representing the Lanaudière, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Abitibi-Témiscamingue regions.

"Construction projects take too long to see the light of day, and it's an obstacle course from the decision to build and convert to the shovel in the ground'," said federation president and CEO Charles Milliard.

Val-d'Or Chamber of Commerce director Hélène Paradis recounted the case of employers "who are buying houses to house their workers."

One of them even bought a hotel to temporarily house workers until they find a more suitable home or accommodation, she reported.

Her colleague, Moulins Chamber of Commerce president Pierre Berthiaume reported a vacancy rate of 0.5 per cent in Mascouche and 0.2 per cent in Terrebonne.

For the Rimouski-Neigette Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jean-Nicolas Marchand says that to achieve a 4 per cent vacancy rate, 5,000 additional homes would have to be built in Rimouski alone.

Solutions

The Chambers of Commerce Federation has put forward a number of recommendations to help solve the problem.

Among other things, it would like municipalities to relax zoning rules to make it easier to convert houses into duplexes or add a bachelor suite, for example.

The federation also suggests that municipalities make it easier to access the list of land available for building.

It also suggested that planning advisory committees should be more "flexible," to encourage direct meetings with businesses, so that questions and requests for clarification can be answered immediately, rather than through lengthy correspondence.

Milliard would like the Quebec government to launch a "major national housing project" as soon as possible in 2024 to tackle the issue of streamlining the processes that lead to housing construction, leading to a real action plan and legislative and regulatory changes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on March 18, 2024. 

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