Friday , January 15 2021

More than ever, Montrealers are leaving for the suburbs

Urban sprawl is increasing around Montreal, and the pandemic is no stranger to it. In 2019-2020, the metropolis lost net nearly 36,000 citizens, and especially to the benefit of the suburbs.

According to the latest socio-demographic bulletin from the Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ), a total number of 63,000 Montrealers left for another administrative region between July 2019 and July 2020. In large part, they decided to take the management of an adjacent territory, including Montérégie, Lanaudière, Laval and the Laurentians.

In comparison, the Island only received 27,000 “newcomers” from other regions of Quebec. The net rate of -1.9% is the lowest ever recorded in Montreal since the ISQ compiled this type of data.

This percentage continues to sink into the red. Montreal has been collecting a “net rate” worse than the previous year for five years in a row. Last year, losses in the region amounted to around 27,000.

Pandemic effect

According to ISQ researchers behind the report, Martine St-Amour and Simon Bézy, we must not look very far to explain this strong exodus.

“The pandemic has led to the deployment of teleworking on a larger scale, so that more workers have the possibility of establishing themselves at a good distance”, one exemplifies.

Fortunately for Montreal, remarks the director general of the organization Vivre en ville, Christian Savard, “Montreal was in very good shape” before the health crisis.

Yes, the metropolis is losing feathers, but its total population continues to climb at a steady rate. And the reason is quite simple, notes Christian Savard. “When you take the figures for international immigration, that corrects the trend,” he emphasizes.

For example, according to 2018-19 figures, the Quebec metropolis welcomed more than 28,000 immigrants.

Gains in the region

In the other regions of Quebec, 2019-20 rhymes with an increase in the population pool. The Laurentians recorded the largest net gain in the province, with an increase of 1.5%.

In absolute numbers, the Montérégie is ahead. The South Shore region recorded 10,000 more arrivals than it recorded departures.

Lanaudière closes the top three.

What solutions?

Christian Savard agrees that the shortage of affordable housing available encourages people to move to nearby suburbs. Last year, Montreal recorded its lowest vacancy rate for homes in fifteen years.

“People want to live in Montreal, but are no longer able,” says the CEO of Vivre en ville.

He invites the City and the Government of Quebec to launch a “major project” to build social housing.

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