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  • David Boudeweel-Lefebvre

Québec's housing shortage persists

As we approach July 1, Québec's traditional moving day, the province is once again experiencing a housing availability and affordability crisis. Due to a growing population, restrictive new building regulations and inflation, the cost of housing is rising sharply, hampering access.

Currently, more and more municipalities are imposing new restrictions on the construction of new homes, whether single-family residences, multi-generational homes or apartment buildings. Conservation and heritage standards are also obstacles, making construction more complicated and more expensive. The refusal of larger cities to accelerate urban densification also means that the supply of new housing is far from meeting demand.

It's a strange paradox. At the same time that cities want to improve their public transit systems, increase social supports, and renovate aging infrastructure, they are restricting construction that would improve their tax revenues. Instead of complaining that property taxes are their main source of revenue, cities should be encouraging construction and densification.

What's more, there is a high demand for social housing, but the low supply and high rents of private units are making it more difficult to build social housing: market conditions mean the construction of social housing is even less profitable than usual for developers, compared with regular units.

New law on expropriation

Add to this reality new proposals to facilitate expropriations at the municipal level, and you have a veritable cocktail that risks further limiting the number of housing units available. In addition, this new law could significantly lower the value of many properties and discourage many new buyers.

We can't wait to see what Québec's new housing policy will look like. In our opinion, it should focus on incentives for the construction of new units. And there's no need for financial incentives for builders, just limiting the pitfalls and supporting cities in their densification would be steps in the right direction. Finally, we're also keeping an eye on any proposals on expropriation, which could also tighten up a market that's already under great strain.


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