Real Estate on the Magdalen Islands | residents increasingly concerned

Residents of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine are concerned that the construction of the archipelago will turn the archipelago into a “Club Med”. The sale of a luxury home and the unveiling of an architectural project caused an uproar on social media this week.

Posted at 5:00 am

Delphine Belzile

Delphine Belzile
The press

The posting of the announcement of a home for sale in Havre-aux-Maisons on Facebook sent the Madelinots across their states. List price: $795,000, a disproportionate amount for the island market, where the average single-family home value is $154,885, according to the Institut de la statistique du Québec. The publication was shared hundreds of times by “discouraged” netizens.


SCREEN CAPTURE PROVIDED BY KEVEN BARRETTE

The announcement of a $795,000 home for sale in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine drew a lot of reactions on Facebook.

The next day, Montreal architecture firm L’Abri also posted plans for their House on the Dune, perched on Aubert Harbor, on Facebook. The agency quickly retracted her post after comments she described as “hostile.” Several statements raised concerns about the deterioration of an already fragile environment.


IMAGE FROM L’ABRI COMPANY WEBSITE

The house on the dune by the architects L’Abri

“I see it developing into a Club Med for tourists. There will be fewer and fewer residents here,” says Keven Barrette, a seasonal worker on the islands since 2010 and a year-round resident for the past two years. With real estate values ​​accelerating, he plans to leave the region to settle elsewhere.

Growing real estate speculation is squeezing the purchasing power of the Madelinots, whose average earned income is $35,585, according to the Institut de la statistique du Québec. The pressure is very real.

Last May, 37 properties worth between $250,000 and $500,000 were sold in Gaspésie and the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, almost double the 19 in May 2021, confirms data released last week by the Quebec government were published. All in all, this is the largest jump in the province in this period. Also in May, eight properties sold for more than $500,000, not since 2014.

According to the Centris website, the median price for single-family homes in the Magdalen Islands has increased by 24% over the last four quarters.

A trend slightly higher than that observed anywhere in Quebec and particularly more pronounced than in Montreal, which recorded a 14% increase over the same period.

It’s difficult for young people to settle down and get on with life in the archipelago when property prices seldom drop below $300,000, points out Joël Lapierre, a Madelinot who fears his inheritance is skyrocketing.

He sees a “change in mentality” while some tourists are closing their country. Thus, “we no longer have the right of way on the beaches that we have been frequenting since childhood,” regrets Tanya Déraspe, who comes from the Magdalen Islands.

We really like people from other places. We welcome you, but there is a problem for our descendants.

Joel Lapierre, Madelinot

“We want to go back home, but it is no longer accessible to us,” continues Tanya Déraspe, who is fortunate to inherit her uncle’s family home.

The rental market is no more inviting. Although the municipality banned the purchase of a property to turn it into a tourist residence in 2021, the housing crisis is at its worst, as evidenced by the 0.1% housing vacancy rate calculated by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Out of control ?

The mayor of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Jonathan Lapierre, acknowledges the emotions that inhabit his municipality but appeals for calm. “We can sue someone who buys [une maison] too expensive. Someone oversold it, too,” he says.

Gabriel Boudreau Savard and René Lemay, real estate agents who sold the prestigious home for $795,000, speak of a “spectacular” and “extraordinary” situation. In her opinion, this is an international phenomenon that is by no means unique to the Magdalen Islands.

As there is no hinterland, the development capacity is rather limited, Nuance Joël Arseneau, PQ MP for the Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

The high demand for a pied-à-terre in the archipelago worries the Madelinots and creates a sense of “dispossession”, adds Mr. Arseneau.

The pandemic has helped increase the value of real estate, explains Jonathan Lapierre, who recalls that the regions have become attractive destinations for people from outside.

In 2021, the archipelago welcomed 57,600 visitors, almost double the number of the previous year. We even approached the record 63,250 visitors set in 2019.

“The islands have become attractive to visitors, and they have become equally attractive to holidaymakers,” confirms Joël Arseneau.

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