The City of Montreal abruptly halted its grant program aimed at uplifting blighted neighbourhoods Monday, citing a drought in funding from the province.
The programs affected all fall under the Renovation Québec funding banner, a larger provincial government program which aimed to help municipalities fund projects that would improve housing conditions and provide jobs in rundown areas.
Those areas, the boundaries of which are outlined on the city's website, are located in 13 of the 19 boroughs of Montreal.
Renovation Québec started in 2007 and was available to municipalities across Quebec.
Funding for approved projects was split between municipalities and the provincial Société d’habitation du Québec. Montreal’s portion amounts to $11.5 million a year. But the province cut funding to the SHQ's portion of the program in the spring budget.
The move will affect five programs in Montreal which help with major residential renovations, demolition, foundation stabilization and purchasing property in designated areas of the city and a top up on provincial Accès Logis funding for social and community housing projects.
Also affected is the city’s Urban Housing for Families program, which provides financial assistance for the construction of family-suitable housing in and around the city’s core. It was deemed an "integral part" of the city's five year plan to retain families, adopted by city council last summer.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said the city had no choice other than halt applications to the program since, without the provincial portion of the funding, it won't be able to deliver.
He said the city will work with the applicants it already has to distribute the city funds budgeted for Renovation Québec grants.
"The program continues, but it's a shared program. Quebec's portion isn't there anymore," he said.
Retaining families vital for city's future, Bergeron says
Richard Bergeron, leader of Projet Montréal, said putting the programs on hold is unacceptable and could be selling the city’s potential short.
“There’s no more important issue [for] the present and the future of Montreal than this one [to] retain Montreal families on our territory,” he said this morning at a news conference.
The city currently has around 1,300 applications for the affected programs.
Those applicants will be notified by letter over the summer with more information on how the city plans to proceed.