I would be remiss if I did not point out the logical fallacies behind the mayor’s assertion that razing affordable housing and erecting a luxury high-rise will cause “downward pressure on rents”. I think a basic Economics lesson in “supply and demand” may in order. No rents are going downward when we are in the middle of an affordable housing crisis and there is a desperate shortage of affordable housing. Furthermore, the idea that those living in affordable housing along Cote St. Luc will be moving into a new luxury building with rents double what they are currently paying, thus freeing up their units, is laughable. In turn, the mayor’s contention that there will be “more, not less” affordable housing on CSL Road is ludicrous.
In addition, the suggestion that there will be increased revenue for Hampstead from the taxes on the new construction lacks the necessary analysis of all the direct and indirect costs. Has there been any attempt made to evaluate the additional infrastructure costs necessitated by the new multi-storey construction? Who will be paying for the enlarged sewer requirements, or the new substations for the electricity supplies? Who will pay for the deterioration of the roads from the increased traffic? Will the deterioration of the quality of life from the increased traffic, pollution, noise, loss of sunlight and privacy reduce the property values and tax revenue for all the adjoining single-family homes?
The only clear benefit that the demolition of affordable housing on Côte-Saint-Luc Road and changing the existing zoning bylaws to push through high-rise projects will be the profit the promoters will pocket at the expense of tenants and homeowners alike.
As for the contention that my neighbours are being offered a great deal, I doubt anyone who would hear what we are being offered would use the word generous to describe it. In fact, virtually everyone whom we share its details with is offended on our behalf.
Finally, on a personal note, the Mayor’s reference to my personal correspondence sent to him many years ago concerning completely different matters, which he took the liberty to excerpt publicly without my consent, was clearly inappropriate if not illegal.
The Mayor at the present time certainly does not have my support, since he is backing a project which will see a community of lower income children, the elderly and newer Canadians displaced. The mayor has stated that he wants to have new rental stock available for downsizing Hampstead homeowners so that they may remain in the community. Does it seem fair to displace lower income seniors who have lived in our buildings for almost three decades so that wealthier seniors can take their place? Our seniors are also part of the Hampstead community. Do their lives matter less?
Most egregiously, the Mayor is not requiring the developers to earmark a suitable number of units in the new development for affordable housing, to replace the affordable housing that would be demolished. In fact, the mayor doubled-down on this point when he spoke of the numerous projects in the pipeline for CSL Road at last week’s town hall meeting, stating that the developers will not be offering affordable housing units in these projects, nor will he be asking them to do so. If these projects proceed, the outcome will be the eventual demolition of most of the affordable housing in the municipality, in effect economically cleansing our town. Shameful.
I am hopeful that by defeating the zoning bylaw change in the upcoming referendum, Hampstead residents will prove that the majority of us who live here and love our town care about the welfare of all of our neighbours and seniors, regardless of their income level. Tikkun Olam.