Martin C. Barry
Although the City of Laval got the go-ahead last week to build 124 new units at the long-neglected Val-Martin social housing project thanks to $18.2 million from Quebec and Ottawa, the number still falls far short of a 1,000-unit goal to match Laval’s needs, according to Mayor Marc Demers.
Federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos and Quebec Minister of Municipal Affairs Martin Coiteux were at the Habitation Raymond-Goyer in Chomedey on Jan. 16 to announce more than $407 million in funding over two years for the creation of additional affordable and social housing across the province.
Needed: 1,000 units social housing
Questioned by the Laval News about the city’s projected requirements in social housing, Demers cited a report issued by Laval a few months ago. “The needs are about 1,000,” he said, while pointing out that Ottawa, Quebec and the city agree this is only the first installment of several over the next few years which should bring the number of completed social housing units in Laval much closer to the target.
Nonetheless, Demers was visibly pleased with the commitment made by Quebec and Ottawa, following years of buck-passing and foot-dragging over which government bore more responsibility for social housing. All the while, the Val-Martin housing project deteriorated to the point a large number of its units became mould-infested and uninhabitable and had to be boarded over.
“What’s happening today is strongly symbolic of the willingness of the three levels of government to take on a problem that unfortunately afflicts society all across the country, in the province and in Laval,” said Demers. “Laval will stand out as a symbol showing there is willingness to solve the problem of affordable social housing.”
$407 million for the province
The two governments maintain that their investments will help improve access to affordable and social housing for households in need, particularly by supporting seniors and victims of family violence while addressing repairs of existing social housing. The work, which will begin in the summer of 2017, will be carried out over a two-year period.
Under the agreement, $286 million is being committed by Ottawa and $121 million by Quebec. The announcement was made near the site of Immeubles Val-Martin. Also on hand were Vimy MP Eva Nassif, as well as Francine Charbonneau, Minister responsible for Seniors and Anti-Bullying and Minister responsible for the Laval region and many other elected officials.
“Our government is committed to investing in affordable housing, strengthening our communities and helping to create jobs and grow the middle class and those working hard to join it,” Duclos said, adding that the federal government hoped to provide better lodging for families, seniors and individuals while laying a strong foundation for a sustainable economic future.
Val-Martin serves as example
“This agreement will help Quebec build and renovate more social and affordable housing units, while keeping all the flexibility needed to prioritize and develop major projects,” said Coiteux. “The case of Immeubles Val-Martin is a great example of what we can do with this funding. The funding announced today is in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars invested every year by the Government of Quebec in support of Quebec households in need of affordable housing.”
“Our government is working alongside the Quebec government in order to give people living in Quebec greater access to affordable housing, and to make improvements to social housing. We are committed to grow the economy while strengthening our communities, including Vimy,” said Eva Nassif, MP for the riding of Vimy where the Val-Martin housing project is located.
Was hard work for Ouellette
Chomedey MNA Guy Ouellette said he felt it was an especially important moment. “In the 10 years I’ve been in politics, it’s 10 years we’ve been talking about Val-Martin and 10 years we’ve been pushing this file,” he said, while adding that he found it meaningful that the federal and provincial officials chose Laval to announce the funding envelope for the entire province.
The province wide funding includes $48.4 million to support the construction, repair and adaptation of affordable housing for seniors; $22.2 million to support the construction and renovation of shelters and transition houses for victims of family violence; $94.5 million to help address the demand for repairs as social housing units age and to improve efficiency and reduce energy and water use; and $242.4 million as part of the commitment to double current funding levels under the IAH Agreement to increase the supply of affordable housing in Quebec.