Island municipalities and Montreal peace pact

Written by  //  June 13, 2008  //  Government & Governance, Montreal  //  Comments Off on Island municipalities and Montreal peace pact

We applaud this necessary step in the long frustrating saga of merger-demerger-agglomeration, while awaiting clarification of the status of the hated “welcome tax” outside the municipality of Montreal

New plans for the agglomeration are mainly positive

The deal would give the city more money and the suburbs more influence
HENRY AUBIN, The Gazette
The Charest government’s latest – and almost certainly final – proposal for changing the rules of municipal governance on Montreal Island is generally positive.
The changes would have different effects on each of the players – the central city of Montreal, the demerged suburbs, the boroughs. Let’s look at each.
For the central city, the Liberal bill represents a long stride forward.

Peace on the Island – at last and at a cost
Like every previous major bit of the merger-demerger process, the accords unveiled Thursday reveal a badly flawed process: Mayors and ministers have been haggling behind closed doors for months (while Liberal MNAs kept silent for fear someone might think they were representing their voters). Decisions about governance should be made by widespread open debate, not by insiders huddled together.
That said, we’ll take it. Some parts of this – single tax bills in the demerged ‘burbs, more money from the province for the city, more fairness in defining shared costs, special status for downtown – we like better than other parts, such as the central city’s new right to step into certain borough affairs almost at will, and the unspecified nature of Montreal’s new tax powers – but this deal is, overall, plainly much better than no deal at all.

New tax deal a win-win for Montreal, suburbs
(CBC) The City of Montreal will soon have the power to levy additional municipal taxes under a new deal struck with the provincial government to reform the island’s agglomeration council.
Under the deal, Montreal’s role as the province’s largest metropolis and economic engine will be recognized by law, and the island will be given fiscal means to generate larger tax income.
The city will have the power to tax some goods such as cars or swimming pools and parking property, but won’t be allowed to impose a municipal sales tax or entertainment tax, said Municipal Affairs Minister Nathalie Normandeau.
The deal amounts to a series of amendments to Bill 22, tabled last year by the Liberals in an attempt to end squabbling between Montreal and its demerged suburbs over shared services and taxation powers within the island’s agglomeration council.
Montreal and demerged suburbs have been at odds since the latter communities demerged from the mega-city in 2006.
Demerged suburbs will regain some powers such as responsibility for arterial roads. They will also have a role in the island’s new auditing committee and will be granted more resources for research.
The deal is a good start to resolving the longstanding merger-demerger debate, but some points still need discussion, said Westmount Mayor Karin Marks.

Peace was declared yesterday by the municipalities of Montreal Island, and with it comes new tax powers, greater autonomy and special status for the city of Montreal.
Mayor Gérald Tremblay, the mayors of the 15 island suburbs and prominent Quebec cabinet ministers announced they had brokered an accord to revamp the agglomeration council that manages island-wide services and has been a source of acrimony since the suburbs demerged from Montreal in 2006.
Taxpayers in the suburbs would now receive one tax bill instead of two, while their cities and towns would regain control over maintenance of major roads in their areas and be spared millions of dollars in shared costs with Montreal.
And, under a separate deal with Montreal, Quebec agrees to grant a long-standing wish of Tremblay and previous Montreal mayors for more clout and for the power to raise revenue through new forms of taxation.
Montreal acquires new power to tax assets and property in its territory and to claim royalties for use of resources.
The deal also allows Montreal to walk away with $25 million a year in aid from the province starting in 2009, the power to unilaterally set the rate it charges for the “welcome tax” on property sales above $500,000 …
Both deals, signed at Montreal city hall yesterday, provide a package of amendments to Bill 22, legislation that was tabled in the National Assembly last year to resolve a power feud between Montreal and the suburbs.
The Montreal deal would overhaul the governance of the downtown Ville Marie borough.
It would also bestow status on the city as the metropolis of Quebec, which would be written into the city charter.
As well, the deal would allow city council to centralize any borough responsibility in case of danger to health or safety by a majority vote for up to two years.
And in response to criticism of the way the city bypassed its independent public-consultation office to approve the redevelopment of Griffintown this spring, the deal would extend the boroughs’ power to initiate changes to the city’s urban plan to the city council and require such changes to be sent to hearings by the public-consultation office. Full article

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