Don't exploit the housing crisis!
The housing crisis in Gatineau is regularly discussed in the media and at the city council. There is no denying that there is a crying lack of housing, but is it all types of housing that are in short supply? According to the first public meeting of the housing shock committee last April, affordable housing, social housing and housing with three or more bedrooms are the most in short supply.
The majority of participants, presentations and discussions focused on these types of housing. However, it is often noted that during discussions at the municipal council on real estate projects that do not meet with unanimous approval, following requests for exemptions or modifications to the urban plan and bylaws, the housing crisis argument is often used by several council members to justify their approval of requests that may be contested by their colleagues and by the citizens in general.
This argument is not always valid, far from it. Indeed, if we look at two files recently discussed in the city's wes sector and that I had the opportunity to consult, the argument was evoked a few times whereas in one case, only 1% of the dwellings, i.e. 4 out of 420, had 3 bedrooms and 67% had only one bedroom. In the other case, 100% of the 192 dwellings had 1 or 2 bedrooms. And these examples are not isolated cases. It is likely that this supply responds to a legitimate strong demand from across the river, but what our developers are offering also feeds that same demand.
As Councillor Champagne and Mayor Bélisle have already rightly pointed out, Gatineau has thus become the affordable housing pool for Ottawa residents. According to CMHC figures, 2020-2021 saw the largest number of migrants from Ontario since 1994 (16,000), which has been steadily increasing for the past few years, and the house value gap has reached a peak of 66%. It therefore becomes relevant that when the housing crisis is invoked by a council member to justify his or her support for a real estate issue, he or she should show greater rigour by supporting his or her opinion with facts.
This will avoid using the real housing crisis as an instrument to approve requests that only partially respond to it and that only exacerbate this crisis by increasing the demand from our Ontario neighbours for whom Gatineau is an increasingly interesting windfall. (Translated)