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Montreal's Peel Basin redevelopment to include thousands of housing units

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After years of debate, The City of Montreal unveiled on Wednesday its new plan for the Peel Basin, which includes thousands of new apartments and the possibility of another REM station.

Right now, the area on the banks of the Lachine Canal is mostly industrial or in disrepair. Housing groups say the redevelopment is badly needed.

"The need for social housing in Pointe-St-Charles is skyrocketing. We have more than 50 families per month that come here," said Francis Dolan, an organizer with Regroupment Information Logement in Pointe-St-Charles.

The future of the Bridge-Bonaventure district has long been debated and was once explored as a site for a baseball stadium.

Now, Montreal wants to move forward with a housing project with 7,600 units.

A rendering of Montreal's plan for the Bridge-Bonaventure sector (Source: CNW Group/City of Montreal - Office of the Mayor and the Executive Committee)

At least 1,100 units would be social housing and 1,100 would be affordable housing.

However, one city councillor says that's not enough.

"To make this neighbourhood truly affordable, I think we'd need to hit a target like 40 per cent social housing in just the Peel Basin sector. That would be like 2,000 social units in Peel Basin," said Southwest borough City Coun. Craig Sauvé.

The city also hopes to add another REM station in the development, despite having one in the works less than one kilometre away in Griffintown.

"We think it's necessary because transport is huge. We're going to be building a lot of housing, and we don't want to create a cul-de-sac where people cannot move around," said Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante.

A rendering of Montreal's plan for the Bridge-Bonaventure sector (Source: CNW Group/City of Montreal - Office of the Mayor and the Executive Committee)

But Sauvé says the city should be even more ambitious.

"The opportunity we have is to make Montreal's first car-free area. In fact, it would be Canada's first car-free area," he said.

Housing groups say it's frustrating to see vacant land combined with low vacancy rates for apartments.

"We see some families with three or four children living in a two-bedroom or one-bedroom sometimes. It's really getting impossible for families to stay in the neighbourhood now," said Dolan.

Consultations on the project are expected to start later this year.

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