Deadlines for building permits | Desires and reality

Two contradictory winds blew in Montreal on Tuesday when it comes to housing.

On the one hand, there was this warm breeze, carrying hope and promises, pushed by the administration of Valérie Plante. At a press conference, she pledged to reduce the endless delays in granting construction permits to developers.

The “target” was set at 120 days.

But that same morning, my colleague Philippe Teisceira-Lessard revealed that it would take giant steps to achieve this objective. Delays have more than doubled in the city center and in several boroughs in recent years, reaching up to 610 days.1 !

The brutal (and icy) wind of reality, one might say.

Reality, in fact, today seems to be catching up with the Plante administration. As if there was a growing gap between his aspirations and the ways of doing things in the districts, on the ground.

Questioned about the revelations of The Pressthe mayor protested2.

This is not satisfactory, it is unacceptable. As mayor of Ville-Marie, nor as mayor of Montreal, I cannot accept delays like these.

Valérie Plante, Tuesday

At the same time, she stressed that the new target of 120 days for the issuance of a permit will not be a firm deadline. “You know the logic of the districts, which are autonomous. »

With this short sentence, Valérie Plante put her finger on one of the major problems of the metropolis. This “autonomy” of the 19 districts comes with a lot of duplication which is far from promoting efficiency.

For citizens and journalists, it is often difficult to obtain basic information on who does what, and how, from one district to another. I will tell you about the construction of speed bumps in a future column…

But to return to housing, the method that will be used to achieve this 120-day target remains cryptic.

The City is committed to “standardizing the monitoring tool and the way in which delays are measured in the 19 boroughs and to submitting a report annually,” it indicates in a press release. It will adopt a new “administrative standard”.

Should we be reassured?

This announcement was received with caution by several real estate industry honchos I spoke to on Tuesday. Main reason: the 120 day standard will only apply to “as-of-right” projects.

These projects, which require no exemption or change in zoning or use, are not the norm. There are often somewhat irregular setback margins to be approved by the boroughs. A few additional floors to be authorized. A distinct brick color to debate over. Advisory committees to convince. Citizen referendums…

It often takes developers years – up to four years in the most extreme cases – before they successfully comply with zoning. A real way of the cross.

Only when all obstacles have been removed can an application for a building permit be made.

The hope, for many, is that the City and the boroughs will also work upstream to streamline their processes Before the permit stage.

This is a bit of what the City promised to do on Tuesday.

She presented (and endorsed) the final report of Chantier Montréal Affordable, a group of financiers, leaders of non-profit organizations (NPOs), promoters and representatives of the City. This committee has been working for two years to identify ways to boost the supply of low-cost housing.

According to his analysis, at least 120,000 housing units would have to be built within a decade in Montreal to hope to return to a certain form of affordability. At the same time, the quantity of “non-speculative market” housing should be significantly increased, with construction starts and the purchase of already existing rental properties.

By 2026, we propose to create 8,000 “off-market” units, thanks to 3,500 acquisitions (made by NPOs and paramunicipal organizations) and 4,500 new constructions.

This would be equivalent to removing 8% of Montreal housing from the speculative market.

The target has been set at 60,000 units by 2034 (12% of the market) and 224,000 units by 2050 (20% of the total). This is commendable and has already been seen elsewhere, such as in Vienna, Austria.

To materialize, the Montreal plan would require major contributions from higher levels of government. And if recent trends are anything to go by, it’s far from being in the pocket. But it is necessary to aim high, given the housing crisis which is getting worse month by month. We are talking about a long-term plan here.

In the short term, the City must (finally) get going and respect its promise to grant permits more quickly. This is one of the levers it already has and it will not require any investment from Quebec or Ottawa. It’s within reach.

Montreal also plans to inject $3 million over three years, starting in 2025, to help community organizations start their affordable housing projects, we learned on Tuesday.

Three million. On a budget of 7 billion. Next year.

It’s little and it’s far, but it’s enough.

1. Read “Endless Delays”

2. Read “This is unsatisfactory, this is unacceptable”

source site-60