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I don't really foresee the volume of foreign capital required coming in to Mtl. and thus upsetting its affordability. There are too many vacant locations as is, and not enough population and economic growth to massively reverse the situation.

 

The one-in-six rule: can Montreal fight gentrification by banning restaurants? | Cities | The Guardian

 

The one-in-six rule: can Montreal fight gentrification by banning restaurants?

 

A controversial law limiting new restaurant openings in Montreal’s Saint-Henri area has pitted business owners against those who believe they are fighting for the very survival of Canada’s ‘culture capital’. Who is right?

In downtown Montreal, traditionally low rental rates are coming under severe pressure amid a deluge of new restaurants and cafes.

 

Matthew Hays in Montreal

Wednesday 16 November 2016 12.30 GMT Last modified on Wednesday 16 November 2016 12.31 GMT

 

 

In Montreal’s Saint-Henri neighbourhood, the hallmarks of gentrification shout loud and clear. Beautiful old brick buildings have been refurbished as funky shops, niche food markets and hipster cafes. Most notably, there are plenty of high-end restaurants. More than plenty, say some local residents – many of whom can’t afford to eat in any of them.

 

Earlier this month, the city council agreed enough was enough: the councillors of Montreal’s Southwest borough voted unanimously to restrict the opening of new restaurants. The bylaw roughly follows the “one-in-six” rule, with new eateries forbidden from opening up within 25 metres of an existing one.

 

“Our idea was very simple,” says Craig Sauvé, a city councillor with the Projet Montreal party. “Residents need to be able to have access to a range of goods and services within walking distance of their homes. Lots of restaurants are fine and dandy, but we also needs grocery stores, bakeries and retail spaces.”

 

It’s not as though Saint-Henri is saturated with business: a number of commercial and retail properties remain empty. In that environment, some residents have questioned whether it’s right to limit any business. Others felt that something had to be done.

 

Tensions boiled over in May this year, when several restaurants were vandalised by a group of people wearing masks. At the grocery store Parreira Traiteur, which is attached to the restaurant 3734, vandals stole food, announcing they were taking from the rich and giving to the poor.

 

“I was really quite shocked,” says co-owner Maxime Tremblay. “I’m very aware of what’s going on in Saint-Henri: it’s getting hip, and the rents are going up. I understand that it’s problematic. They were under the impression that my store targets people from outside the area, which isn’t really the case. I’ve been very careful to work with local producers and artisans. Why would you attack a locally owned business? Why not a franchise or chain?”

 

Not everyone is sure the change in regulation will work. “The bylaw seems very abstract to me,” says Peter Morden, professor of applied human sciences at Concordia University who has written extensively on gentrification. “I wonder about the logic of singling out restaurants. I think the most important thing for that neighbourhood would be bylaws that protect low-income and social housing.”

 

Alongside restaurants, chic coffee shops have become emblematic of Montreal’s pace of change.

 

As the debate rages, Montrealers are looking anxiously at what has happened to Canada’s two other major metropolises, Toronto and Vancouver. Both cities have experienced huge spikes in real-estate prices and rents, to the point where even upper-middle-class earners now feel shut out of the market. Much of Vancouver’s problem has been attributed to foreign property ownership and speculative buying, something the British Columbia government is now attempting to address. This has led to concern that many of the foreign buyers – mainly Chinese investors – could shift their focus to Montreal.

 

For now, the city’s real estate is markedly cheaper than that of Vancouver or Toronto: the average residential property value is $364,699, compared with Toronto’s $755,755 and Vancouver’s $864,566, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. And rent is cheaper, too: the average for a two-bedroom apartment in central Montreal is $760, compared with Toronto’s $1,288 and Vancouver’s $1,368.

 

Montrealers have little desire for their city to emulate Vancouver’s glass-and-steel skyline.

 

The reasons for this are debatable – the never-entirely-dormant threat of Quebec separatism, the city’s high number of rental units and older buildings, its strict rent-control laws and a small-court system seen to generally favour the rights of tenants.

 

But regardless of why it’s so affordable, many Montrealers want it to stay that way. There is widespread hostility towards the seemingly endless array of glass-and-steel condos that have come to dominate the Vancouver and Toronto skylines. If Montreal does look a bit grittier than other Canadian cities, it owns a unique cultural cachet. The inexpensive cost of living makes it much more inviting to artists, which in turn makes the city a better place to live for everyone; its vibrant musical scene is the envy of the country, and its film, dance and theatre scenes bolster the city’s status as a tourist attraction. In this context, Montreal’s restaurant bylaw is designed to protect the city’s greatest asset: its cheap rents.

 

“I would argue this is a moderate bylaw,” says Sauvé. “We’re just saying one out of every six businesses can be a restaurant. There’s still room for restaurant development.”

 

He says the restaurant restriction is only part of Projet Montreal’s plans, which also include increased funding for social housing. “Right now, the city sets aside a million dollars a year to buy land for social housing. Projet Montreal is proposing we spend $100m a year. The Quebec government hasn’t helped with its austerity cuts: in the last two budgets, they have cut funding for social housing in half. There are 25,000 people on a waiting list.”

 

Perhaps surprisingly, the provincial restaurant lobby group, the Association des Restaurateurs du Quebec, doesn’t have an issue with the bylaw. “We understand the impact gentrification can have,” says spokesperson Dominique Tremblay. “We understand the need for a diversity of businesses. Frankly, if there are too many restaurants on one street, it’ll be that much harder for them to stay open. There won’t be enough customers to go around.”

 

Even despite having been robbed, Tremblay says he recognises the anxiety that swirls around the subject of gentrification. “People feel a neighbourhood loses its soul,” he says. “I get that. I’d rather we find a dialogue, not a fight.”

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La ville n'est pas à feu et à sang. Il y a des morons qui n'ont pas de vie sociale et qui se trouve une "cause" en pitchant de la bouette pis des roches sur des petits magasins, ok. Ils vont continuer un bout encore, oui, probablement. Mais on est loin d'une menace à la sécurité nationale. Honnêtement, je ne suis pas tellement inquiet. Ça va passer. Tant que Mtl demeure une ville relativement plus égalitaire que les autres en Amérique Du Nord, cela constitue un tampon assez efficace.

 

Le militantisme est plus marqué ici, pcq il y a un héritage de combat social ET pcq il y a PLUS de pauvres qu'ailleurs. Mais il y a aussi pas mal de services qui tempèrent le ressentiment, même si ça déborde un peu. Du moment que les gouvernements comprendront qu'ils doivent soutenir les initiatives d'économie sociale, je pense qu'il n'y a pas à trop paniquer. Mais bien sûr, nous ne sommes pas à l'abri d'un désengagement marqué des pouvoirs publics, ce qui, ça, pourraient littéralement changer la donne et propulser une partie des désargentés dans les bras de mouvements très radicaux.

 

Il faut rester vigilants.

Edited by MtlMan
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Of course Trump loves the undereducated angry subclass...unless they were to damage his buildings. This is part of a global phenomenon, the economic gap increasing; fear of poverty and its inevitable companion, anger, rising. I agree that we are protected by the greater parity we share here, but the greater the income gap, the greater potential for social upheaval.

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La seule façon de faire diminuer le phénomène dans un premier temps c'est d'éviter d'en faire la une des journaux. Ces gens font des gestes d'éclat pour frapper l'imaginaire populaire. Ils ont donc besoin de la complicité des médias (volontaire ou pas) pour entretenir une sorte de psychose du chaos. Je suis malheureusement d'accord pour l'installation de caméras qui devraient aider à identifier les fauteurs de troubles. C'est comme les graffitis, il faut intervenir rapidement et punir sévèrement les délinquants.

 

D'un autre côté on peut comprendre qu'il y a une certaine peur de la part d'une frange de la société, qui craint à tort ou a raison d'être évincer un jour de son quartier. C'est pareil dans Pointe St-Charles, Verdun et certains autres secteurs comme St-Henri notamment. Il faut alors répondre par davantage de programmes de logements sociaux, plus de services pour les familles et un bon soutien à l'emploi, afin de mettre aussi ces gens dans le coup. Personne ne veut être laissé pour compte et la perte d'espoir est toujours un des premiers précurseurs de la violence.

 

Ici en ce qui a trait au logement social, une des meilleures formules est l'achat de rangées de maisons déjà existantes et qui ont besoin de rénovation, pour ensuite les transformer en coopératives. On pourrait ainsi multiplier ce genre d'intervention un peu partout où c'est possible, tout en protégeant le tissu social. Très souvent ces personnes sont attachés à leur quartier, à leurs habitudes et ne veulent pas être dépossédés par de nouveaux arrivants. Comme il y a de la place en ville pour tout le monde, c'est bien davantage une question de sensibilité et de bonne volonté, qu'un problème de budget limité.

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Je pense qu'il y a encore beaucoup de pauvreté a St-Henri et que le problème ne concerne pas le logement mais les opportunités de travail. * Les anarchistes qui se donne la peine de briser des vitrines et saccagé des commerces sont des gens avec de l'ambition mal placée, *toute l'énergie qu'ils dépensent pour détruire le bien des autres pourraient servir à réparer nos routes, *nettoyer nos parcs ou laver les graffitis sur les murs. *Je pense que se sont des gens qui ont besoin d'aide à priori et non des gens méchant. *Si ils travailleraient, ils pourraient eux aussi se payer un logement, sinon la colocation est une autre option si tu veux habiter un quartier plus cher. *Je continue d'encourager les commerces de St-Henri et de la rue Notre Dame peu importe, c'est de cette façon que les anarchistes comprendront le message.

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Quelle dommage de découvrir que uniforme St-henri sur notre-dame a fermer ses portes c'était une vrai institution dans le quartier. On a augmenter leur loyer peut être? Petit a petit les petits commercants disparaissent.

 

Mais ils sont remplacés par des Dairy Queen qui font le bonheur de plusieurs ici! C'est fantastique. C'est ce qu'on appelle le progrès.

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