I hear almost daily from people telling us to stop giving building permits or to stop development. Even if we wanted to do that, it is totally impossible at this point and for many reasons. I wanted to explain why so that people can better understand the challenges that all municipalities in Quebec face in terms of development and municipal governance.
In order to break the document down into different sections for easier reading, I will be posting as a series over the next few days or weeks (depending on my schedule). [This is the second part of the series.]
Here are the points that will be covered:
- Population growth
- Housing shortage
- Labour shortage
- Our Obligations
- Our Resources and infrastructures
- The Law
- Dependence on property taxes
- Solution: better development
 Housing Shortage
We can see that people are looking for a certain way of life and the territory of Saint-Lazare and its surroundings are in high demand. With the pandemic, we have seen this trend increase as people are looking more and more for green spaces and tranquility. There is nothing to suggest that this trend will not continue in the coming years.
According to the CMM, since 2017, there hasn’t been enough homes for sale compared to the demand. On the territory of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM), which includes Saint-Lazare, the supply/demand ratio has been constantly decreasing since the mid-2010s and has been below the equilibrium threshold since 2017. There’s consequently a lack of housing for sale compared to the level of demand. In 2021, between 24,000 and 32,000 additional units available for sale would have been needed to reach a balanced ratio of 8 to 10 sellers per buyer according to the CMM Observatory published in May 2022.
Another factor: Remote work
The pandemic and the exodus from the city of Montreal have led to an increase in the number of new residents in Saint-Lazare. Remote working, now a viable option, has allowed people to live farther away from their place of work. “According to the latest estimates, 40% of jobs in the metropolitan area could be suitable for telecommuting and numerous surveys have revealed that it is a very popular way to organize work among employees.”(Source https://observatoire.cmm.qc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/CMM_10e_Cahier_metropolitain_web.pdf)
The median purchase price of single-family homes has increased by 50.41% for the region of Vaudreuil-Soulanges since the beginning of the pandemic (January 2020). The median price for January 2022 was $550,500 (source: APCIQ through the Centris system). The lack of inventory and the increase in demand has caused bidding wars in many cases, which have the effect of pushing prices even higher.
An increase of 11 % in the cost of rentals was also noted for the Greater Montréal area during the same period. Despite the increase in the number of housing starts, the availability of rental housing remains low outside of the Island of Montreal. As for Saint-Lazare, there is very little rental or affordable housing for families and seniors.
According to the CMM, a household is considered to be experiencing core housing need if its dwelling does not meet at least one of the standards of acceptability (quality, size and affordability) and if 30% of its gross income is insufficient to pay the median rent of acceptable dwellings (meeting all three standards of occupancy) located in the metropolitan area. In the CMM territory, 171,600 households are in core housing need, including 144,600 renter households and 26,400 owner households. One in five (19.8%) renter households are living in core housing need, compared to 2.9% of homeowners.
More than 6000 adults and children in Vaudreuil-Soulanges are currently living under the low income threshold which represents 3.7% of the population (source MRCVS).
According to the data provided at the Colloque sur le Logement Social et Affordable de la Montérégie Ouest, the construction of 403 social and affordable housing units is necessary in the MRC of Vaudreuil-Soulanges to catch up with the average of the Montérégie-Ouest and 1727 social and affordable housing units to catch up with the Quebec average.
Conclusion : The high demand for housing, including single-family homes, rental and affordable housing, and the shortage of supply puts great pressure on us to fill these needs. As mentioned in the first part of this series, when we add the projected increase in population, and the need for housing, we can see that stopping development altogether is extremely difficult and would lead to other social problems.
Coming up in the next section: Labour shortage