Gatineau's Mont-Bleu district undergoing 'gentrification,' affordable housing advocates say

·2 min read
In 2018, Gatineau's Mont-Bleu district was hit with a tornado, displacing hundreds of people. Housing advocates say new developments built in the area since the natural disaster are too expensive for former residents to afford. (Radio-Canada - image credit)
In 2018, Gatineau's Mont-Bleu district was hit with a tornado, displacing hundreds of people. Housing advocates say new developments built in the area since the natural disaster are too expensive for former residents to afford. (Radio-Canada - image credit)

Almost three years after being struck by a tornado, Gatineau's Mont-Bleu district lacks affordable housing, according to community organizers.

"We have families who have been in emergency housing for over a year," said François Roy, coordinator at Logemen'occupe, which advocates for improved living conditions in urban parts of the Outaouais.

"This should not be the case," he told Radio-Canada in a French-language interview.

The problem, he said, is that housing built or rebuilt since the natural disaster of September 2018 is too expensive and doesn't match the needs of the community.

Traditionally, Mont-Bleu was home to many large families and people with low incomes, Roy said.

"Following the tornado, we saw the construction of high-end housing, particularly one or two bedroom apartments, which are therefore not accessible to large families," he added.

"What we're seeing is gentrification, a gentrification of the neighborhood."

Stephan Godin, the father of a young woman living in the neighborhood, told Radio-Canada that rents have soared for some units.

What we're seeing is gentrification, a gentrification of the neighborhood. - François Roy, coordinator with Logemen'occupe

His daughter, who signed her lease in early 2020, pays around $780 per month. Godin said similar units are now offered for $1,100 or more.

"In the last year, it has increased a lot. This is absurd," he said in French.

Isabelle Miron, a municipal councillor for the district of l'Orée-du-Parc, said she's monitoring the situation closely and will support organizations fighting for affordable housing.

"I'm afraid that some people who were dislodged by the tornado no longer have the means to live in the [nearby] Daniel-Johnson neighborhood now," she said in an interview.

According to the councillor, the city's housing strategy responds to social-housing issues, which can be observed throughout Gatineau.

The city's strategy encourages promoters of new developments to integrate affordable housing initiatives into their projects.

"What we can do, I think we do well and we do it in consultation with the organizations," Miron said.

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