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Quebec refuses to review $30 million loan to Airbnb king

Quebec refuses to review $30M loan to Airbnb king

and Jean-François Cloutier MISE À DAY

The Legault government yesterday refused to put an end to a controversial loan it granted to the multinational Sonder, which specializes in Airbnb-style accommodation. 

< p>In the National Assembly, the oppositions demanded that the government of François Legault suspend financial assistance to Sonder and recognize “the negative impact of short-term tourist accommodation on the housing crisis”.

The Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ), however, refused to debate a motion presented on this subject.

On Tuesday, our Bureau of Investigation reported that Sonder, a company that operates 389 apartments in Montreal, had been granted a $30 million loan, including $5 million forgivable (which does not have to be repaid), by Investissement Quebec. 

“The CAQ is financing the housing crisis, it's scandalous. We gave the government an opportunity to correct their mistake, they did not want to take our outstretched hand,” said Ruba Ghazal of Québec solidaire, who tabled the motion, with the support of the Liberal Party and the Parti Québécois.

So far, 6 of the planned $30 million have been committed by the government, but have not yet been drawn down by the company.

According to the CEO of Investissement Québec, Guy Leblanc, it will be “the decision of the government” whether or not to pay the additional funds.   

Minister minimizes

In an interview with our Bureau of Inquiry, the Minister of Tourism, Caroline Proulx, defended Sonder, which is not “the same business model than Airbnb,” she said.

“Probe, they only operate in commercial areas. They are not removing rental housing on the territory of Montreal,” said the minister.

But the minister is mistaken, since 101 Sonder apartments in the metropolis have been created in residential buildings. Several are displayed on the Airbnb platform.

The company notably rents 47 units in a building in Griffintown which was originally intended to accommodate traditional housing, but which has become a hotel-apartment.

< p>Apartments there cost between $150 and $2,000 a night, during the Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend.

– With Sylvain Larocque

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