The mayor of Pointe-Claire, Quebec said he felt singled out by Pierre Poilievre after the Conservative leader held a press conference in the parking lot of the Fairview Pointe-Claire shopping centre to address the country’s housing crisis on Thursday.

“(Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau has caused this problem by funding local bureaucracies that block homebuilding,” said Poilievre, who also criticized the City of Montreal over numerous delays to housing projects. 

The conference took place underneath the aerial tracks of a future express train line, with the focal point being to denounce the amount of bureaucracy and delays which have stalled thousands of Montreal housing projects.

“Here we are next to a federally funded future transit station, and the local owner wants to develop apartments and housing in this parking lot, but local bureaucracy is blocking that construction that would allow seniors and students to live next to a massive transit station that would take them to McGill University or to the airport,” said Poilievre on Thursday.

During a press conference last week at the Federal Port in Montreal, Poilievre also accused Mayor Valérie Plante and Quebec City Mayor Bruno Marchand of being incompetent in their handling of housing.

Pointe-Claire Mayor Tim Thomas responded to Poilievre by saying that too many housing units had already been constructed without enough thought, saying he was elected to “slow down development.”

“This is sensible, responsible urban planning in a community where developers have been given too many red carpets, and not enough red tape,” said Thomas. “I was elected to slow down development.”

Thomas said that the city of Pointe-Claire added more houses than any other neighbourhood in the West Island municipality. 

He also said that he would like to see the Fairview Forest preserved, as it is the last natural space in the city that remains unprotected.

A citizen’s group has been protesting in front of the Fairview Forest since 2020, aiming to have the space officially protected.

“I think there are a lot of ways to develop without sacrificing green space,” Geneviève Lussier, a spokesperson for Save Fairview Forest, told the Montreal Gazette. “It’s a miracle that the forest is still there and that it stayed wild as long as it has been. With the influx of population in that area, we need to maintain that green space as is.”

Lussier expressed her frustrations with Poilievre coming to Pointe-Claire to denounce delays in housing development.

“I think we’re better off with a decentralized method of decision-making,” she said. “I don’t think the federal government has the best knowledge about each specific municipality. There are reasons that municipalities have those powers.”

Poilievre said that his government would incentivize municipalities via the gas tax transfer, which comes up for renewal in March. 

His plan is to offer bonuses to cities that construct beyond a predetermined goal and penalize those who fail to meet it.

Additionally, he said that all new transit projects would be obligated to include a housing component.