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Old June 28th, 2003, 11:37 AM
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Housing crunch near

Montreal - Officials with the city of Montreal are bracing themselves for another wave in the region's housing crisis over the coming days.

Because the vacancy rate for rental housing is so low, affordable apartments are scarce.

Some predict 400 people will have nowhere to live after moving day, next Tuesday, July 1.

Michel Prescott, the city executive committee member in charge of housing, says Montreal is prepared to offer short-term, emergency accommodations to anyone who needs it.

Last year, the city made room for around 300 people in hotels and a high school.

Meanwhile, the SPCA is warning a record number of house pets will likely be abandoned as thousands of people move over the next few days.

The animal protection organization says Quebecers have the worst record in Canada when it comes to leaving cats and dogs behind when moving.

Pierre Barnotti is the director of the SPCA.

He says the problem stems partly from irresponsible pet owners, and partly from landlords who refuse to rent apartments to people who keep a cat or dog.

"When you consider that 46.3 per cent of Quebecers, own a pet it's a huge discrimination against a huge chunk of people and it has to stop," Barnotti said.

Ironically, Quebec has the fewest pet owners per capita of any province, yet more animals are abandoned here than anywhere else in Canada.

Barnotti says people started calling the SPCA two months ago, complaining they couldn't find an apartment where they'd be allowed to keep their pet.

"(As a result) we are receiving animals at the SPCA, (like) cats being stacked in rabbits cages on top of one another," he said.

Barnotti says Ontario landlords seem to be more welcoming to pet owners.

A law protects them from the discrimination of landlords.

Barnotti says he wants the new Charest government to pass the same kind of law in Quebec.
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