What a political mistake that the procrastinating administration of Projet Montréal is now making late in the game to sell a lot for affordable housing on the huge 76-hectare Hippodrome site to avoid losing the land in Quebec for non-development l next year, but still delaying social housing needs for later.

I ask myself the following question: Why did it take almost three years after the conclusion of the public consultations to finally make this superficial commitment? Why is there still no funding for infrastructure in Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa? Why is there no site development and housing estates? Why is there no sign erected outside the site giving hope to many for their housing needs and marking the site as a profitable 50/50 Montreal/Quebec initiative?

The city is talking about giving the land to a non-profit organization, perhaps with little experience and unable to raise sufficient funds. Rather, I am saying to offer the building land to experienced developers to bid, build and sell homes at a specified ceiling price with ample parking for the near-future environmentally friendly electric cars that few would buy without. I call on Quebec to provide an income tax deduction for annual mortgage interest on affordable housing so that potential buyers can pass a bank stress test and get a mortgage at the lowest rate with a down payment. And yes, ask Ottawa to provide the same.

However, suspicious, I finally wonder if the CAQ could grant Montreal an extension to develop the Hippodrome before the elections in order to increase their popularity, a gesture perhaps pre-programmed for a long time. I therefore ask all the leaders of the provincial federalist parties to promise, if elected, that they will give Montreal not only more time, but also the funding necessary to develop the “new Blue Bonnet houses”.

Michael Shafter

Montreal

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