Protesters rally to draw federal parties' attention to affordable housing crisis
Protesters in Montreal assembled Sunday afternoon, and are hoping the housing crisis will become a central part of the federal election campaign.
The Popular Action Front for Urban Redevelopment (FRAPRU) organized the citizen mobilization with the Regroupement Information Logement de Pointe Saint-Charles (RIL), the community development corporation (CDC), Action-Gardien.
These organizations advocate for low-income tenants who find it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing.
Protesters pointed to the thousands of homeless people in Canada's major cities that they say shows the widening gap between those who can afford to live downtown and those who cannot because of rising rents and booming real estate developments.
Advocates for social housing hope to challenge the leaders of the various federal political parties to make a commitment to include housing development in their electoral platforms and make it a priority.
Protesters took particular aim at private real estate projects such as the construction of luxury condos, or major projects such as the creation of a new baseball stadium in the Peel Basin.
"The proposition to put a stadium and 4,500 luxury condos in that area is completely disconnected to the needs and the preoccupation of the people of Pointe St. Charles, so we think it's a bad idea to put a stadium there," said Sebastien Laliberty of the RIL.
Protesters fear that these proposed projects will result in the displacement of less fortunate people, who have lived in these neighbourhoods for years, if no alternative is provided for them.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did produce a 10-year housing strategy in his party's first mandate, but many critics have pointed out that much of the investments won't kick in until the second mandate if there is one. The NDP has also come out with a relatively strong social housing strategy that critics say lacks detail.
Advocates are calling on all federal parties to commite to spending $2 billion a year on social housing, which they say should not include grants or loans to private developers favouring non-profit public housing agencies.