Reports on Canada’s condo boom often feature photos of Toronto skyscrapers crowding the CN Tower or Vancouver’s glassy structures framed by mountains and sea. But the second-largest city in the country shouldn’t be ignored when considering the nation’s shifting cityscapes.
As Montreal sees more and more cranes go up and developments take shape, the city has begun building a whole new skyline.
The Montreal Gazette looked at the differences between Montreal and other urban centres when it comes to new development. Though the Quebec metropolis may have been lagging behind other Canadian cities for years, it’s now playing a serious game of construction catch-up.
Most cities see significant changes to their skyline about every decade or so thanks to development through both the private and public sector.
“But the pace in Montreal has been much slower,” explained Clarence Epstein, director of special projects and cultural affairs at Concordia University, to the newspaper. The last twenty years or so saw a particular slow down in development.
“Not because of an effort to protect the city’s architecture, but because its economy hasn’t performed the same way as that of other cities, such as Toronto.”
But now both private and public sector players seem keen to add to the skyline and Montreal’s getting a new look that’s mostly made up of residential constructions.
Epstein suggests that there are multiple reasons the city’s changing it up with new builds right now: private developers have sensed there’s a market for condos in the city, baby boomers are looking to down-size, and, despite being known as a renter’s city, the younger generation coming out of university appears keen to own instead of rent.
The new buildings are sprouting up across the city in neighbourhoods such as Mile End, the Plateau region, the downtown centre and near the Atwater Market – proof that the longstanding trend of moving out to the suburbs is reversing.
And with more people living in the core, a positive economic spinoff is expected in the downtown. Epstein said, “I think the city has been hoping for that kind of densification for a while now.”