Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Housing: a controversial amendment debated at length

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Housing Minister France-Élaine Duranceau (Archive photo)

The Canadian Press

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Minister France-Élaine Duranceau had to defend a controversial amendment in her bill 31 on housing which was criticized by opposition parties. They fear that the modification will have perverse effects in terms of urban planning.

The amendment in question, if it is included in the bill, will allow municipalities with at least 10,000 inhabitants and a vacancy rate of less than 3% to disregard their own planning regulations for construction a minimum of three accommodations.

A municipality may also deviate from its rules if the construction project is mainly composed of social or affordable housing or housing for students. The municipality that wants to use this measure will only have to hold a public meeting. This exceptional regime will last for five years.

This means that you can increase the number of units, the number of floors, you can reduce the number of parking spaces. You can choose an exterior covering which is not provided for by town planning regulations. This makes it possible to skip all the approval stages for a given project, said the minister during the detailed study of Bill 31 on Wednesday.

France-Élaine Duranceau affirms that these modifications are necessary to accelerate the construction of housing. An argument which did not convince the opposition.

PQ MP Joël Arseneau fears that this will have perverse effects. I have the impression that we are giving the right to all municipalities to do whatever they want and that worries me a little, he said. -he launched.

Liberal MP Virginie Dufour proposed a modification to limit excesses of the density and height standards of buildings that the minister's amendment would allow. The government side finally rejected his proposal.

It's frankly very worrying […] I have a slight fear of seeing what will our urban landscape look like in five years, replied Ms. Dufour to the government's refusal.

Solidarity activist Andrés Fontecilla also expressed reservations, fearing that without limiting this amendment, we would end up with horrors that we have unfortunately experienced too well in the past.

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People have demonstrated against Bill 31 in several large cities in Quebec since the presentation of the bill, which aims to update certain provisions legislation relating to housing law. (File photo)

The minister had to defend herself against the numerous criticisms addressed to her. According to her, the housing crisis requires exceptional measures.

In the context of the crisis, I rely on the good judgment of everyone world to unlock the projects. As we managed the pandemic, there was a crisis and we had to act and at a given moment, you trust the people on the ground and you move forward in the crisis by looking for concrete solutions, she said to defend his initiative.

France-Élaine Duranceau still admitted that there were risks with such an amendment, but, according to her, the benefits would be significantly greater.

After several hours of deliberations and proposed modifications, the vote on the amendment did not even take place on Wednesday evening.

Bill 31 has made a lot of waves since it was introduced last June. The minister immediately announced her desire to tackle lease transfers, which aroused the ire of tenant groups.

During another detailed study session of the bill in October, representatives of the three opposition parties left in a crash to denounce blackmail and arrogance from Minister Duranceau. Work resumed shortly after.

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