Quebec has settled on doubling its housing construction target. The city aims to add 5,000 units annually, hoping to achieve 80,000 units by 2040.
Mayor Bruno Marchand expressed deep concern regarding the current housing scenario. “We’re grappling with a significant crisis. People can’t find homes in cities, and Quebec City’s situation mirrors that of other cities in Canada,” Marchand stated.
To make this minimal goal a reality, Quebec City will invest $605 million over the forthcoming three years, nudging private developers and amplifying its social housing fund. The city is actively modifying policies to lure developers into establishing new housing units, intensifying urban neighbourhoods. Marchand hopes the provincial government will shoulder $348 million of the total costs.
Issues like dwindling supply, escalating rents, and snail-paced construction hampering residents’ ability to find homes, and anticipating a rise in the city’s populace owing to immigrants, temporary workers, and refugees; the city is forced to perform some reform.
Highlighting the approach, Marchand noted, “We are actively endorsing all housing investments but will lean heavily on social and affordable projects.” He revealed that almost 80% of the planned $605 million would be channelled into these projects.
Key Measures Include:
- Maintaining 500 Units Annually: The city sticks to its 500 new social and affordable housing units yearly, aiming to allocate 20% of new units for vulnerable demographics like the homeless, youth, or those with disabilities.
- Preserving Affordability: By expanding territories for its pre-emptive right, Quebec City plans to extract 50 housing units annually from the speculative market. The idea is to ensure affordability by dodging exorbitant renovations.
- Condo Conversion Freeze: A city-wide embargo has been initiated to prevent housing units from turning into condos. The city reports a vacancy rate below 3%.
- Soft Densification: The city intends to appeal to developers by streamlining permit applications, adjusting zoning rules, imposing taxes on vacant and large parking lots, and scrapping minimal parking requirements, especially along public transit corridors. Quebec City is promoting ‘soft’ densification – endorsing tiny homes, allowing second dwellings like garage conversions, and encouraging constructions on vacant plots.
However, some concerns linger. Municipal councillor Jackie Smith praised the city’s commitment but raised alarms about the potential harm to green spaces. “It seems more feasible to bulldoze a forest than to build on a parking lot,” Smith observed. Addressing these concerns, Mayor Marchand assured developers would have to adhere to stringent standards before obtaining funds or permit assistance.
Funding the Initiative:
For its $605 million housing drive, Quebec City is looking at its partners for financial backing. The city expects the provincial government to contribute half – $348 million and hopes for Ottawa’s support. It has already submitted projects worth $110 million to the federal Housing Acceleration Fund.