Days after federal election ends, municipal election in Montreal heats up

While one election campaign has ended, another one is ramping up in Quebec.

Voters in Quebec will head back to the polls in November for municipal elections, and in Montreal the front runners were out on the campaign trail with a number of pledges.

On Wednesday, incumbent Mayor Valerie Plante focused on housing, which was a central priority of her first mandate and something she said is even more important as home prices have skyrocketed.

She said she doesn't want Montreal to become unaffordable like Vancouver and Toronto.

She committed to get 60,000 new affordable housing units built, partially funded by federal funding, but also using the city’s powers to acquire land for private development.

Plante is promising $800 million dollars over the next decade to do just that.

To keep the homes affordable, she says the city would impose a selling price at 90 per cent of the average market value. With 60,000 units added to the housing supply, her party would try to control the resale value to avoid sellers flipping homes and destabilizing the market.

“People won’t be able to buy an affordable unit and then flip it because we will remain the owner of the land,” Plante said.

“So, we will make agreements with the private sector or the organizations that are building because the City of Montreal doesn’t build, but we’re buying land.”

Her main opponent, Denis Coderre, argued this an extravagant promise that she won't be able to keep. 

Coderre pledged to clean up the city, telling a news conference his team would free funding for boroughs to add more closed waste and recycling bins for parks, or increase trash pickup in the summer.

He's also promising, if elected, to ensure all offensive graffiti is cleaned up in under a day.

As part of his pledge to voters, he said he wants to tackle the vermin, saying he would have a plan to exterminate rats near construction sites requiring open sewers.

During the news conference, the front runner was also asked to respond to criticisms from Plante about his plan for buildings higher than Mount Royal. He said it's not about blocking views to the mountain, but tackling urban sprawl and being climate focused.

“In a place like Montreal, especially downtown where there’s not a lot of pieces of land, the only way to truly also have an answer against climate change is density,” Coderre said.

“We’ll have soft and smart density ... we need to do it wisely.”

A new Leger poll suggests the race is tightening, putting Plante and Coderre in a statistical dead heat — Coderre with 37 per cent of declared voters and plante at 36 per cent.

This marks a radical change from just a few months ago when Coderre led by 12 points.

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