Rimouski wants commitments for social housing | Elections Quebec 2022

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Rimouski wants&nbsp ;commitments for social housing | Élections Québec 2022

Rimouski has one of the lowest housing vacancy rates in Quebec (archives).

The City of Rimouski and the organization Serviloge challenge candidates for the October 3 election in the riding of Rimouski. They want firm commitments to be made in favor of the financing of social and affordable housing.

Serviloge, a non-profit organization (NPO) specializing in social real estate, is trying to complete two projects of 44 and 47 rental units. Despite the funding already announced by Quebec and Ottawa, it is struggling to launch construction sites because of the explosion in construction costs.

The realization of these projects would even be threatened, according to the president of Serviloge, Francine St-Cyr.

We presented the project in June 2021, we received a response [for funding] in December 2021 and the agreement was received in June 2022, so after a year and a half or so, and the construction costs have increased in arrow, she explains.

The 44-unit project is funded by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's (CMHC) Rapid Build Program. In May 2021, it was valued at $12 million. The latest estimates are now at nearly $20 million. CMHC has already announced $7.7 million in assistance and the City of Rimouski must finance 10% of the project.

Serviloge is therefore asking Ottawa to increase the financial assistance or in Quebec to close the funding gap.

A project of 44 social housing units is planned inside the convent of the Sisters of Notre-Dame du Saint-Rosaire, in Rimouski.

The 47-unit project is funded by the Government of Quebec's Affordable Housing Program and costs $22 million. This is the first phase of a project of a hundred social housing units behind the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. If this project has already been approved, the envelope granted by Quebec is not yet known. This is without taking into account that according to this program, the City must assume 40% of the costs, which is far too much for a municipal budget supported by 50,000 inhabitants.

Rimouski and Serviloge are therefore asking for more flexibility and the adaptation of the program according to the reality of the regions.

The mayor of Rimouski, Guy Caron, found it difficult to hide his frustration with the lack of concrete commitments from some parties on social and affordable housing.

[Housing] is the critical issue in Rimouski and in several municipalities, in Montreal too, and we don't talk about it! exclaimed the mayor in a press scrum. And this is clearly an issue for which Quebec has a great responsibility.

Guy Caron indicates that he has not yet heard a structured proposal from the candidates in the riding in this regard.

The mayor of Rimouski, Guy Caron (archives)

All parties were invited to this joint press conference by Serviloge and the City.

Present, the candidates of the Parti Québécois (PQ), Québec solidaire (QS) and Climat Québec reiterated their respective commitments.

Samuel Ouellet, of the PQ, has formally committed to advancing the rental and health services project on the grounds of the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.

With a housing vacancy rate of 0.2%, we can't wait any longer. There is an urgent matter that is very important, underlined the PQ candidate.

If elected, Mr. Ouellet promises to ensure that a person in the Council of Ministers makes sure to make the link between the different departments so that the project is adequately funded.

Relatively spared by Mayor Caron's grievances, solidarity Carol-Ann Kack recalled that a government formed by Québec solidaire would deliver 50,000 social housing units, including 25,000 in a first term. This commitment would result in 550 housing units in Bas-Saint-Laurent during a first solidarity mandate.

It takes political will to make these investments in this sector and we does not see this appetite on the part of the current government, said Carol-Ann Kack.

Pierre Beaudoin, from Climat Québec, believes that harmonization and synchronization various provincial and federal funding programs are needed to limit construction delays, which often lead to increased costs.

With information from Michel-Félix Tremblay

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