A lack of rental and diversity of home ownership options has created an imbalance in housing supply in Montréal’s West Island. The “Bringing affordability to the suburbs” project aimed to improve understanding of how low-density infill housing can increase affordable housing options within established neighbourhoods. This approach promotes residential infill strategies, such as building reuse and “greyfield” redevelopment, and gentle densification, including accessible dwelling units.
3 Key Findings
Community support is vital to create low-density infill housing.
Community workshops point to gaps in information about community housing projects.
Councillor support for legal accessory dwelling units is a prime opportunity to expand housing in established neighborhoods.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Creating diverse housing stock
Thriving communities need a range of housing stock for households with various incomes. This project promoted accessory dwelling units, such as carriage houses or legal basement suites, to expand affordable options. Introducing this low-density, suburban infill housing requires the support of elected officials and the community.
The project gained that support by:
- Providing elected officials with the information to champion affordable infill housing.
- Helping community members learn about affordable infill housing.
- Facilitating partnerships between community members, private firms, housing professionals and other groups.
- Creating the missing affordable, accessible housing for groups such as seniors and young people.
Sharing information about infill housing
Communication was central to the project’s success, with 4 virtual stakeholder workshops that explored creative residential infill strategies suitable to a suburban context. Education materials included:
- workshop materials
- a policy guidebook
- a dedicated web page on the project
Citizens played a key role in attracting councillors to the workshops by sending open letters and making personal invitations through a phone tree. Harnessing the power of these community members strengthened advocacy efforts. Councillors who attended the workshops saw accessory dwelling units as a prime opportunity to expand housing supply in established neighborhoods.
The workshops attracted community organizations aiming to create community housing projects, including Perspective Communautaire en Santé Mentale and Fonds d'aide de l'Ouest-de-l'Île.
How this research can be used
This project helped identify opportunities for and barriers to affordable housing development in the West Island. It can influence housing strategies or policies to encourage infill housing. The project is applicable in any suburban context, making it of potential interest to policymakers at all levels of government, community groups, housing providers and others.
Now that the workshops are complete, the resulting policy briefs are being distributed to elected officials, community groups and residents via social media, newsletters and mailing lists.
The project generated greater support for accessory dwelling units among elected officials and residents alike. As a result of the project, the Table de Quartier Sud de l'Ouest de l'Île plans to pursue a pilot project aiming to remove barriers to the development of accessory dwelling units in the West Island.
Activity Stream: Research Project
Title of the Research: Workshop series: bringing Affordability to the Suburbs
Lead Applicant: Table de Quartier Sud de l'Ouest de l'Île
Project Collaborators / Partners:
- West Island IUHSSC
- City of Pointe-Claire
- Action Jeunesse de l'Ouest-de-l'Île
- Villa Beaurepaire
- Perspective communautaire en santé mentale
- West Island Citizen Advocacy
- West Island Association for the Intellectually Handicapped