Mayor Valérie Plante says Montreal has identified 300 properties that it will attempt to buy and develop into social housing, using the city’s right of first refusal.
This means the city will have, before anybody else, the chance to buy land or buildings in areas where rental housing is particularly scarce, she told reporters on Monday.
She described the right of first refusal as another tool to respond to the city’s rental housing shortage and “offer quality housing at affordable prices and to maintain the diversity in our neighbourhoods.”
The mayor stressed that exercising the right of first refusal is not the same as expropriation, as it only applies to properties that are already on the market and have an interested buyer.
Once a buyer makes an offer, the city has 60 days to step in on the sale and match whatever offer is on the table, Coun. Roger Beaudry explained.
“It’s going to make no difference,” said Beaudry, who is the executive committee member in charge of housing. “It’s going to be the city or the private owner that is going to own the land for the exact same price.”
The city acquired the pre-emptive right to acquire property in 2016, in a landmark piece of legislation dubbed Réflexe Montréal, which was aimed at giving the city more powers over its own economic and social development and urban planning.
Since then, city has only exercised this power to buy land for parks and other public infrastructure while the rental housing vacancy rate has continued to erode, finally hitting a 15-year low of 1.5 per cent citywide this year.