Canada/Montreal aims for 200,000 new homes around mass transit systems by 2050

Published on 13/06/2024 | La rédaction


Faced with a serious housing crisis and stagnating public transit, Mayor Valérie Plante's administration has set itself the goal of building 200,000 new homes around a transit network four times larger by 2050. She presented this long-term development plan to citizens and the media on Tuesday.

In its Plan d'urbanisme et de mobilité 2050, which runs to hundreds of pages of text, diagrams and plans, the City intends to equip itself with the urban planning tools needed to unleash Montreal's development potential in terms of housing, sustainable mobility, safety, quality of life and climate resilience.Montreal's development potential in terms of housing, sustainable mobility, safety, quality of life and climate resilience. In short, to make Montreal a great place to live, work and play, while taking into account the urban, environmental and social challenges of the next 25 years.

We are providing the metropolis with a planning tool dedicated to ensuring a fairer, greener and more equitable future for Montreal. It has been designed for the benefit of all those who live, work and occupy Montreal.

A quote from Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal

In more concrete terms, we're aiming for the construction of 200,000 new housing units over the next 26 years, 20% of which would be off-market, i.e. managed by cooperatives.-In other words, they would be managed by cooperatives or community groups to protect them from real estate speculation and soaring rents.

In addition to this ambitious goal, the city has set itself the target of decarbonizing Montreal's buildings by 2040.

The city also plans to increase the public transit network from 80 km to 360 km, in order to increase the density of housing along these infrastructures. These include bus rapid transit (BRT), streetcars, trains, subways and the Réseau express métropolitain (REM).

Under the proposed vision, a vast network of streetcar lines would be built along Saint-Michel, Henri-Bourassa and de l'Acadie boulevards, Rosemont, Sherbrooke and Notre-Dame streets, and Côte-Vertu road, to name but a few. Extensions to the metro network are also proposed, but not the REM.

Linking real estate development and public transport

The main thrust of this urban plan is to closely link real estate development with future public transport networks. In other words, new neighborhoods are to be designed from the outset in terms of their accessibility to these infrastructures.

We can no longer do as we did before and say, "We've created 20,000 new housing units in a corner. [...] Well, I think there are going to be 20,000 new cars arriving at the same time". That's impossible!

A quote from Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal

As well as increasing the density of housing and public transport, the Plante administration has set itself the goal of greening 40% of Montreal's territory, including 125 kilometers of green corridors. A bold objective, if ever there was one, at a time when the construction of new housing and transportation infrastructures will require a great deal of space.

By 2050, 30% of the public street right-of-way will also have to be dedicated to sponge infrastructure - to reduce the risk of flooding in vulnerable areas - and to sustainable mobility.

For the first time in Montreal's history, we are simultaneously thinking about urban planning in terms of a mobility plan for the population, following the best practices shared by other major metropolises.

A quote from Sophie Mauzerolle, responsible for transportation and mobility on the executive committee of the City of Montreal.

Aware that all these projects will require the financial participation of other levels of government, and that the municipal administration has no control in this area, Mayor Plante has decided to take the initiative.Nevertheless, Mayor Plante believes that the 2050 Urban and Mobility Plan represents a serious and valid basis for future development of the metropolis for the governments of tomorrow.

The draft urban and mobility plan will be submitted for public consultation in the coming months, with a view to adoption in 2025.

An idealized vision?

At a time when traffic jams and major road infrastructure rehabilitation projects are multiplying across the city, the Plante administration plans to tackle the problem of mobility by increasing the number of cars on the roads.The Plante administration plans to tackle the problem of mobility by increasing the ratio of trips by public or active transport to 70% over the next 26 years, by linking 44% of employment hubs to these modes of transport.

The publication of this plan, drawn up following some one hundred consultations held with citizens since 2017, comes at a difficult time in Montreal, to say the least, where the cumbersome bureaucratic machine is being denounced by real estate contractors who have to wait months, sometimes years, to obtain building exemptions and permits.

Delays in issuing these documents have lengthened by 34% since 2018, reported the daily La Presse in November 2023.

While the Plante administration talks of exemplary, integrated, green and innovative projects, housing starts in Montreal fell by 37% last year, according to the CMHC.

City Hall promises 200,000 new housing units over the next 26 years, but only 5,200 were started in 2023, 8,900 fewer than in 2022.

Another problem: in October 2023, data compiled by CBC News revealed that 150 real estate projects had been completed in Montreal since April 2021, for a total of 7100 units. Of these, almost none were social housing units, as contractors preferred to pay fines to the city rather than build social housing.

In terms of structural transportation - the addition of nearly 300 kilometers of network over the next 26 years - let's not forget thatit will have taken nine years, if all goes well, to complete the 67 km of the REM and as much to extend the metro's blue line by just 6 km.

And where will all this money come from? Let's not forget that the mayors of the CMM recently had to announce an increase in annual vehicle registration fees from $59 to $150. to come into effect on January 1, just to cover the operating deficits of their respective transit authorities.

While Valérie Plante's administration is not lacking in vision and ambition for the metropolis, the difficult situation on Montreal's streets - housing shortage, bureaucracy, itinerancy, drugs, mental illness, etc. - has made it difficult for the city to keep up.rance, drugs, mental illness, congestion and construction sites - remains a daily reality for many Montrealers, despite the best of urban plans.


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