Montrealers should expect a higher increase in their municipal taxes than in recent years, but under 8%, said Valérie Plante on Monday.
In a review interview for her fifth year in power, the mayor argued that she is trying to “find a balance” in view of her budget at the end of November, but that the metropolis’ dependence on property taxes is problematic.
The subject worries many Montrealers, who have received their municipal assessment in recent weeks, often skyrocketing.
“I don’t want to raise taxes on citizens, that’s not my goal in life,” she said. Objective: “to find a way to respect Montrealers’ ability to pay — with inflation and the new property roll — but also to ensure that the City is able to provide services to citizens,” she said. said, sitting on a couch in her office. She referred to an 8% increase (which is Canadian inflation in June, at its highest point) as “out of the question”. But “we can’t freeze taxes either,” she added, recalling increases of 2% or less in recent years.
A year after her re-election, Valérie Plante said that her greatest pride in the past 12 months was precisely to have brought the debate on municipal taxation to the fore. “This archaic model no longer holds up,” she dropped, sharp.
One of the solutions, according to Mme Plant: agree with Quebec on more generous and more stable transfers to the metropolis. Every year, “I look for money for things I do,” including homelessness, housing and the fight against climate change, she lamented. On a personal level, “it’s very difficult. It’s difficult because we see them, the needs, and we hear them”. A glimmer of hope, all the same: “it’s going well” with the Deputy Prime Minister, assured the mayor.
Another solution: find new sources of income, in particular through the taxation of non-ecological management (eco-taxation). A forum on the issue is scheduled for Monday. Mme Plante did not want to put a proposal on the table until he heard the outcome of this event.
The bridge-tunnel, antidote to the car?
The congestion that has hit the metropolis more than ever since the start of the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel project could be the trigger to encourage a greater number of motorists to turn to public transport, according to the mayor, who rejoices.
“I hope that the work on the bridge-tunnel will make many people want to use public transit,” she said. If they are stuck in their car for long minutes, or even an hour or two, they may think it’s time to try public transit. Public transit is the keystone. »
The number of cars keeps increasing in Montreal, so it’s normal for the network to be saturated.
Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal
In addition to wasting motorists’ time, traffic jams affect the transport of goods and disrupt the supply chain, which has consequences for the economy, noted Mr.me Plant.
Even if the transport companies have implemented measures to encourage commuters to opt for public transport, the mayor expressed regret that certain projects did not see the light of day sooner. She notably cited the extension of the blue line, and a tramway in the axis of avenue Notre-Dame, which has already been mentioned in the past.
“If we had that, imagine how different the situation would be. People would have already done the modal shift, or they would have options,” she said. “These projects, in development with the federal government and the Quebec government, should have been done before. »
For the future, however, she was optimistic about the progress of public transit projects. She points out that the work for the extension of the blue line is in progress, in particular the publication of a call for tenders for the tunnel boring machine, that the City is participating in the development of the stations of the REM de l’Ouest, that the project de l’Est is still on track and that its proposed pink line between downtown and Lachine is included in the 2022-2032 Quebec Infrastructure Plan.
REM downtown, “in a second stage”
By the way, M.me Plante welcomed the possible extension of the REM de l’Est to Rivière-des-Prairies. The Press revealed on Friday that this possibility was being studied by the working group which took over from CDPQ Infra in May 2022 and which brings together the Government of Quebec, Montreal and the Société de transport de Montréal (STM). Extensions to Laval and Lanaudière are also being studied.
“I’m very happy that it’s there,” she rejoiced, visibly satisfied with her shot. “Rivière-des-Prairies, that was one of our requests. It is a very landlocked sector for which there are few options [de transport en commun]. By bus, coming from Rivière-des-Prairies to the city center is an hour and a half. »
When it comes to downtown, however, the enthusiasm of Mme Plant fades. The current “reference route” of the REM de l’Est is not connected to the heart of Montreal, but rather to the blue and green lines at Boulevard Lacordaire.
“I think you really have to consider it in a second step,” she said. “A link to the city center remains relevant. Now, what we wanted initially was to take over the work of CDPQ Infra, create a new version, show what it could look like. »
Bulk balance sheet
What is your main regret of the last year?
Securing the Camillien-Houde route is not going fast enough for my taste. It was a commitment we made during the last term. […] We are working on making a proper park path, but we have an issue because of the configuration at the top, with the pass [de roc].
On this subject, could you come back to a ban on car transit through the mountain, as in 2018?
Did you want to take advantage of this first year in office to make unpopular decisions, as governments often do?
I have never governed with such a timetable. I understand that, but it’s part of a certain way of doing politics. Whereas from the beginning, we have been hyper-transparent.
Have you decided if this mandate will be your last?
At this point, I have absolutely no decision, but I think I will continue. As long as the population is going to say that the mayor, we want her, we want her to be there, I think I will continue.
These responses have been reworded for clarity and brevity.
Average residential tax increase in Montreal
- Budget 2022: 2%
- Budget 2021: 0%
- Budget 2020: 2.1%
- Budget 2019: 1.7%
- Budget 2018: 3.3%
Source: City of Montreal