MONTREAL -- The race for Montreal mayor is shaping up to be a close one between the two frontrunners, Valérie Plante (Projet Montréal) and Denis Coderre (Ensemble Montréal), according to a Léger poll commissioned by Le Devoir.

The survey finds that former mayor Coderre has more support among those over the age of 35, while current mayor Plante is popular with younger people between 18 and 34-years-old.

According to the poll, Coderre is currently leading with 37 per cent of voting intentions, with most support in the eastern and western boroughs. Plante isn't far behind with 36 per cent, appealing to those living in the central boroughs.

"There is a real generational issue in this race that is emerging. It could have a direct impact on the message of the two main candidates," Christian Bourque, executive vice-president at Léger told Le Devoir.

It's a much tighter margin than in a previous Léger poll commissioned by Le Journal de Montréal, which saw Coderre holding 39 per cent of voting intentions and Plante having 29 per cent.

LANGUAGE MATTERS

"Denis Coderre may not have had the start he was hoping for. There was the controversy surrounding cell phones while driving, which shook some Montrealers," Bourque explains. "Voters tend to judge not what a political leader says about an issue, but how he or she talks about it."

He notes that Coderre's tone of voice in recent months could have cost him a bigger lead, forcing Montrealers to wonder if he really has changed since he was last in office.

Plante, Bourque adds, hasn't faced many controversies except for questions surrounding issues of public safety.

When it comes to language, Coderre is equally popular between francophones and non-francophones, while Plante has more support with francophones.

In addition, eight per cent of respondents say they plan to vote for Mouvement Montréal Leader Balarama Holness, including 15 per cent of non-francophones.

Five per cent say they may choose Ralliement pour Montréal Leader Marc-Antoine Desjardins.

THE ISSUES

The biggest debates Montrealers care about right now are the cost of rent and buying property, according to the poll.

"What's interesting is that this is not just a municipal issue. There are federal laws and tax credits that can be applied," Bourque said. "It won't be easy. It's not like clearing snow from the streets. It's more complex."

Second is gun control and whether the Montreal police (SPVM) should receive more or less funding.

"The closer you are to where shootings have taken place, the more important it becomes," Bourque tells Le Devoir. "In some areas of Montreal, it's the number one issue."

The third most important topics cover economic recovery, construction, homelessness and taxes.

Other issues that people are interested in including heat islands, the environment, the French language and road sharing between vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.

TIME FOR CHANGE?

According to the poll, 48 per cent of respondents want to see a change at City Hall, while 33 per cent support a second mandate for Plante.

Having said that, 46 per cent say they like what the mayor is doing, while 49 per cent say they do not -- many of these people currently support Holness.

An equal 43 per cent say they were satisfied and dissatisfied with how Coderre ran the city when he was mayor from 2013 to 2017.

An additional 14 per cent admitted they are still undecided as to who to vote for or do not want to answer the question.

"We saw it in the federal election, more than 60 per cent of Canadians wanted a change. However, we saw the result on Monday night. At 48 per cent, it's not a strong enough wave to carry Coderre," Bourque told Le Devoir.

The Léger survey was conducted among 500 Montrealers between Sept. 14 and 19.

An online survey does not have a margin of error, but the maximum margin of error for a sample of 500 respondents is +/- 4.4 per cent.