Since the start of the pandemic, Montreal has been empty. Dully and heavily.
It is not only emptying because its office towers, like everywhere else, are deserted because of teleworking. No.
It is emptying itself from the inside, little by little, into its quarters where everyday life was already much more pleasant.
In short, it empties itself of its world, of its essence, of its life, of its sap. Or, at least, a growing part of his world.
For all of Quebec – Montreal being its economic metropolis and the only large “French-speaking” city on the continent, but which is less and less so – this is very bad news.
Radio-Canada reports in fact, according to the Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ), “the growth rate of the Montreal population is only 2 per 1000, one of the lowest of all the regions, compared to 18 per 1000 in 2018-2019, one of the highest that year. ”
For the metropolis, this is its biggest demographic in twenty years! The Earth calls the mayoress Valérie Plante … Is our call “very important” for her, as the voicemail boxes say that abound?
According to the ISQ, part of the explanation would lie in the drop “in the number of immigrants and non-permanent residents since the closure of international borders in March 2020, but also significant migratory flows of Montreal residents to other regions. of Quebec”.
It is therefore 35,900 people who, in 2019-2020, left Montreal to settle in another region – the “biggest deficit since the data became available, in 2001”.
In July, in a column entitled “Montreal, ghost town”, I broached the subject of the growing exodus of Montrealers. The hot data from the ISQ confirm the phenomenon. Well unfortunately.
It is therefore necessary to return to the subject.
Montreal is not doing well. The municipal elections will take place this fall. The issue of the exodus is likely to arouse passions.
For myself, a Montrealer by birth and myself, less and less attracted to my city, which I have nevertheless already loved with a mad and proud love, my hypothesis was – and remains -, this one: “L he access to a first property in town at a reasonable cost was already an impossible task. With the virus, you no longer want to try.
For those many who cannot buy property, the severe housing shortage does the rest. In this regard, the hypocrisy of municipal authorities for years, all parties combined, has taken its toll.
With their eyes closed, they have allowed evictions and Airbnbs to proliferate, these gold mines for owner entrepreneurs. The result: the “stock” of quality housing has melted like snow in the sun.
Montreal is now a city of speculators and entrepreneurs obsessed with maximizing profits. When we see new condos advertised at $ 500,000 for 500 square feet (!), We see all the rapacity.
Pay half a million for a chicken coop? No thanks.
Montreal offers less and less a real living environment, vibrant and revolving around neighborhoods that are also very much alive. And what about the decline of its commercial streets, with rare exceptions?
Under COVID-19, a new social divide among many others has even been added. On the one hand, the fortunate minority to have a court. On the other hand, the majority isolated on their balcony, or no balcony at all.
Except for its wealthy neighborhoods, the city is also dirty. Not to mention the pre-existing nightmare of endless construction sites amplified by the erratic multiplication this summer of so-called pedestrian streets.
Under the administration of Projet Montréal, whose anti-car ideology is notorious, the health crisis is in fact used as a pretext. Hundreds of parking spaces are blown up.
The “recovery plan” of the city center announced by the mayor, Valérie Plante, for its part is a poultice on an open wound.
In short, because it is a powerful indicator of a city in decline in basic terms of quality of life, for more and more Montrealers, even by birth, the health crisis is the straw that broke the camel’s back.
It is no longer disenchantment, but a request for divorce. However, it is still necessary to have the means and the possibility to leave it.