Real estate developers will soon have to create or fund social and affordable housing if they want to build in Montreal.

Projet Montreal passed a new housing bylaw Wednesday, following through on a campaign promise to give Montrealers more affordable housing.

“When I envision Montreal 10 years, 20 years, 50 years from now, what I hope to see are diverse neighbourhoods where everyone belongs, no matter their financial status,” said Mayor Valerie Plante.

The new bylaw aims to regulate the real estate market and improve upon its current vacancy rate of 1.9 per cent, the lowest in years.

Contractors would have to enter into an agreement with the city to build affordable and social housing units, family housing units, give land to the city or make a financial contribution.

“On a big project for example in downtown Montreal, it's going to be more interesting financially for them to give us the land so we can develop social and affordable housing,” said Plante.

The number of units required to be social, affordable or family will depend on how many are being built overall and where.

For example, for a building with 50 or more units downtown, a contractor would have to build:

  • social housing equal to 20 per cent of the project
  • affordable housing equal to 10-15 per cent of the project
  • family housing equal to 5 per cent of the project

“If we want to have skilled labour and we want to have artists and we want to have students, affordability is super important,” said city councillor Craig Sauve.

The city expects condo prices to rise by 2 to 4 per cent because of the bylaw, a concern for the Quebec Association of Construction and Housing Professionals (APCHQ).

“Four per cent of a condo unit priced at $350,000 represents the equivalent of a second down payment. It's $14,000, so that second down payment could convince a lot of families to take their car one way to Laval and Longueuil, and establish themselves in another city,” said APCHQ spokesperson Francois Vincent, adding that he worries that will push more of the middle class out of Montreal.

"The last study shows that between 2017 and 2018, 24,000 people left Montreal. It's the equivalent of the Bell Centre."

The Montreal Chamber of Commerce believes, though, that it's an amount the market can absorb.

“If you look into the variation of housing prices over the past year, a 2 to 4 per cent increase is unlikely to create an immense movement,” said Chamber of Commerce president Michel Leblanc.

The bylaw must first go through a period of public consultation and won't be adopted until 2020. The city is aiming to have the rules in place by 2021.


With files from Angela MacKenzie