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Is there a housing crisis in Beauce?

IS THERE A HOUSING CRISIS IN BEAUCE?

For a little over a year, we have been hearing talk of a housing crisis in Quebec’s major cities. Available accommodation is becoming increasingly scarce and prices are increasingly high.

What about Beauce? Statistics recently released by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) for municipalities with populations between 10,000 and 49,999 indicate that the housing vacancy rate in St-Georges is 0.3%. and 0.7% in Ste-Marie.

SITUATION IN ST-GEORGES

Asked whether St-Georges was currently experiencing a housing crisis, Mayor Claude Morin answered “Yes” without hesitation.

However, in recent years, residential construction in St-Georges has been quite active. In 2021, 229 new homes were built there. During the first quarter of 2022, the City has already issued building permits for 84 new units, which suggests another very active year.

Mayor Morin told me that three major projects are currently under study. One of them concerns 72 units located on 151st and 155th streets, on the site of the former Ciné-Parc. This project is worth a total of $10.8 million from the firm Gestion Martin Jacques. Another project, located near the Marché Métro, in the south of the city, would have 60 apartments in a seven-storey building.

Finally, the City is expected to submit a 41-unit project this week as part of the Government of Quebec’s “Affordable Rental Housing” program. This program aims to quickly build rental housing for modest or low-income households and for people with special housing needs.

This project would be located on 120th Street, on the land where we currently find the building that housed the studios of Radio Beauce a few years ago. This building was erected in 1932 by a group of Beauce businessmen to house a ladies’ shoe factory, according to Gilles Fortin, a former employee. The building in question would be demolished to make way for the 41 planned dwellings.

Together, these three projects would add 173 new housing units in St-Georges. And we must not forget the projects of other entrepreneurs who, year after year, develop new sectors of the city by erecting single-family residences and semi-detached.

In addition to the lack of housing that persists despite new construction, Mayor Morin said he saw a problem of lack of land available in the municipality. And with the increase in construction costs linked to the price of materials and land, developers will increasingly want to build at height in order to make their investments profitable.

SITUATION IN STE-MARIE

According to the Director of the Town Planning Department, Dominique Larocque, Ste-Marie is also experiencing a housing crisis. In 2021, 146 new homes were built there. Mr. Lamarre added that in five years, Ste-Marie has seen the addition of 652 new dwellings.

However, Ste-Marie experienced a particular situation following the floods of recent years and the decision of the Government of Quebec to compensate the owners of residences located in flood-prone areas who agreed to relocate. Thus, 400 residences were demolished on a voluntary basis. So everyone had to be relocated.

As in St-Georges, Mr. Larocque raised the problem of the lack of available land, because, there too, major projects totaling 146 new dwellings are in the background. Mr. Lamarre raised another problem, namely the lack of rooms to rent for the many students who attend the Cégep Beauce-Appalaches service center in Ste-Marie.

ELSEWHERE IN THE REGION

New housing construction is also doing well in several other municipalities in the region. In 2021, we spoke of a record year in St-Prosper and St-Joseph.

The director general of Notre-Dame des Pins, Mrs. Dominique Lamarre, reported 10 new housing units in 2021, specifying that it was not a record year. It is also possible to observe the addition of many new residences in St-René, but, despite my efforts, it was impossible for me to obtain precise data on this side.

Even if we are witnessing the appearance of all these new housing units, some will no doubt wonder why there is a housing crisis in Beauce? Quite simply because we are witnessing the arrival of several new foreign workers recruited by Beauce companies and all these newcomers need to find accommodation. There is also the phenomenon of people leaving small municipalities to get closer to services in urban areas.

RISING PRICES

When new homes become increasingly scarce, it should come as no surprise to see prices rise.

We are still far from the average cost of a new single-family residence of more than $500,000 as is currently the case in Montreal and close to $400,000 in Quebec City, but look no further for a residence at $150,000 in St. -Georges currently. You’re wasting your breath.

The same phenomenon can be observed for apartments for rent. From 4 ½ to $500 or $600 a month has become a rare commodity. It is not uncommon to see housing offered at over $800 and $900, or even more.

And, as long as demand is stronger than supply and the vacancy rate is so low, it would be illusory to expect prices to stabilize or fall. Especially not if we continue to observe an increase in mortgage interest rates.

View all of Pier Dutil’s opinion pieces

THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK

I dedicate the thought of the week to those who seek a solution to the housing crisis:

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