April 24, 2022 – Verdun, Quebec
Hundreds of people took to the streets today, in the Verdun district of Montreal, to protest the rise of gentrification and the housing crisis that has swept the city.
The protest which was organized by Regroupement des comites logement et associations de locataires du Quebec (RCLALQ) denounced rent increases and demanded urgent action against the housing crisis that has swept the region. Tenant advocacy groups warn that the rising cost of rent is making it impossible to find an affordable place to live.
On this beautiful Sunday afternoon, an estimated five hundred of people gathered outside Verdun metro station for the 10th annual tenants day and to demand the provincial government put an end to the current housing crisis. Speakers spoke about the lack of action from Housing Minister Andrée Laforest, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante and and Quebec premier François Legault, asking for them to step down so that this crisis may be put right.
Verdun is situated in the south western part of Montreal, where gentrification has spread like wildfire in recent times. In recent years, it has become commonplace for property developers to buy apartment buildings, evict the tenants, and charge triple the previous amount to new renters. One renter, who asked to remain nameless, said she had been in a constant battle with her current landlord for the past three years since the apartment complex was sold and has had to deal with constant construction noise, dirt and even cockroach and bedbug infestation in her home located on the corner of Wellington and Fortune in neighboring Point Sainte Charles. Across the street from this complex, that is in the midst of being transformed from social housing to luxury condos, is a food bank – Share The Warmth, that has been helping the communities less fortunate people for more than a decade now.
One by one, people in attendance took turns telling their stories as the protest paraded itself from outside Verdun metro station, down to Wellington, where the ever-growing number of marchers proudly chanted slogans and waived placards denouncing the exorbitant rent costs that now plague the area. Wellington, the main street in Verdun, has undergone massive changes in recent years, where rents have triple and continue to rise. It remains one of the hardest hit areas in the city, and areas such as St.Henri, Griffintown and Rosemont fear the same fate soon awaits them as well.
Another demonstrator spoke about how the Lachine canal, a once bountiful green space within the cities confines, is now nothing but wall to wall condo buildings. Everywhere the eye can see, another luxury condo complex is being constructed, which has contributed to the now out of control rental prices that have caused many residents to lose their homes. Last year, scores of tents housing homeless Montrealer’s popped up through the city, leading to Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante’s forceful removal, using Police officers, in an attempt to force shut down the unsightly tent collectives. In one instance, a man that had been made homeless as a result of gentrification fell into the Lachine canal and drowned.
The thoroughly peaceful protests concluded just outside of the Verdun auditorium, where people rejoiced with soft drinks and hotdogs, before some live music from Union Thugs and a circus performance capped off the day.
Quebec’s Housing Minister, Andrée Laforest, did not reply to our interview request or return our calls.