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Business vacancies skyrocketing in Montreal’s West Island


POINTE-CLAIRE — You don’t have to drive far in the West Island to notice an urban blight has taken over many municipalities.


“For Lease” and “For Sale” signs are abundant in the commercial and industrial districts of many neighbourhoods.


“It concerns me because this is something you don’t want to get worse,” Joseph Huza, the President of the West Island Chamber of Commerce, told Global News as he took us on a tour.


The vacancy rate in the West Island sits at 20 per cent for industrial and commercial properties: that’s double the ten per cent rate that is considered healthy.


“What this also represents is a challenge.”

“[Or] an opportunity for people who are looking to come into an area where they can probably get a discounted rate and probably renew and things of that nature,” Huza said.


Several factors help explain the high vacancy rate.


The first is that rapidly growing off island development is attracting a lot of new businesses and investors to set up away from the congested traffic on the island.


Secondly, some West Island municipalities are slow to offer hybrid zoning — changes in the zoning bylaws that would allow mixed industrial, commercial and retail businesses to open on the same lots.


“If you’re the owner of a company and you’re deciding where to lease or buy, I’m guessing the West Island is no longer your number one choice,” Glen Grossman, a real estate broker Terramont Real Estate Services Inc., said.



However, there are some signs of renewal.


Cogeco Data Services is opening a 100,000 square-foot facility in Kirkland.


Erik Langburt, a real estate broker at Cushman & Wakefield recently closed a deal involving the lease of 10,000 square feet of office space in Dorval.


“As the U.S. economy starts to strengthen, we feel we’re going to see some more strength in the suburbs and certainly the West Island and Ville St-Laurent,” he said.


For Huza, a surge in new businesses is certainly welcome, but also poses one of his biggest challenges.



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