September 20, 2012 - Montreal is becoming a city of singles, be they young and hip or old and grey (and perhaps still hip).
Figures released by Statistics Canada this week detailing the makeup of Canadian households indicate 40.7 per cent of people in the City of Montreal who live in a private dwelling are living on their own. That number is much higher than the Canadian average of 27 per cent, and far above comparable cities like Toronto (32 per cent), Calgary (26 per cent) Ottawa (28 per cent) or Halifax (29 per cent). Only Vancouver, where 38 per cent of residents live in one-person households, comes close.
The percentage of people living alone in Montreal is almost equal to those who are in couple-family households, at 41.1 per cent.
The reasons are myriad: an aging population that lives longer and leads to more widows and widowers; the high number of students in a university town; young families moving to cheaper homes in the suburbs; low immigration numbers.
Montreal used to take an active role in encouraging social housing, ensuring affordable homes for all, Friedman noted. But as it relinquished that role, market forces took over and “builders build what sells — not affordable homes for families with young kids, but small condos for single people or couples without kids.” With family-sized homes on the island too expensive for young families and somewhat affordable neighbourhoods like Plateau Mont Royal or Notre Dame de Grâce that have smaller residences already packed to the gills, young families have little choice but the outlying areas. Friedman notes that developers are building condos out there, too, at costs that are 30 per cent cheaper than Montreal prices, enticing even more families.
Montreal is a classic example of what urban planning experts describe as “edge cities,” Friedman noted. As more jobs become available in the suburbs, “we are seeing generations who grow up in places like Dollard des Ormeaux, go into the city just for university, and spend the rest of their lives out there.”
The immigrant influx, already low in Montreal compared to other Canadian cities, is also heading off-island for its more affordable housing.
“I think at one point, the face of Montreal will not be too different from Toronto — people who live in the city are either single or young couples, and that’s it. ... We will not have an empty city, but we will have a city where you might see in some places more singles and more retirees.”
Read more at source: Montreal Gazette