Laval mayoralty candidates debate housing co-ops

By Tracey Arial

Seven said they’d be there, but in the end, only four candidates for Laval mayor participated in a debate about housing cooperatives last week.

The event was organized by the Regional Development Cooperative of Montreal-Laval, the Federation of Intermunicipal Housing Cooperatives (FECHIMM) and the GRT Réseau 2000+ de Laval. It took place last Thursday morning from 10-11:30 a.m.

“We don’t know what happened, but we thought they’d all be here,” said Francyne Morin, spokesperson for the Regional Development Cooperative of Montreal-Laval, which helps entrepreneurs set up businesses using the cooperative model.

“We need whoever becomes mayor to understand the importance of our sector. It doesn’t make sense that more than 800 cooperatives exist in Montreal and yet only 42 have been established in Laval.” 

Based on their comments during the debates, the cooperative movement is well understood by Nouveau Parti des lavallois’s Guy Landry, Movement lavallois’s Marc Demers and independent candidates Jacques Foucher and Marc-Aurèle Racicot. All four spoke about how important co-ops are for jobs, long-term employment, employee satisfaction, economic resilience and community involvement.

Several candidates mentioned specific ways to promote the sector. Foucher suggested creating a municipal development office specifically for co-ops. Landry spoke about limiting government red tape. Demers said that something has to be done to lessen the prejudice that city officials have towards those who choose the cooperative model and said that he is open to assigning people to promote co-ops within government.

Racicot spoke about the need to treat all entrepreneurs equally, regardless of which model they choose: independent workers, franchisee, corporations or co-ops.

Parti au service du citoyen’s Robert Bordeleau intended to be there, but he said his 90-year-old mother had a little problem and he had to go see her instead.

Neither Action Laval’s Jean-Claude Gobé nor Option Laval’s Claire Le Bel attended.

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