Mergers cost Montrealers $400 million annually according to Westmount mayor
Published Monday, November 12, 2012 10:15PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 13, 2012 1:44PM EST
MONTREAL—According to Westmount Mayor Peter Trent, the forced mergers of 2002 cost Montreal island taxpayers $400 million dollars a year, an amount that could dwarf the long-term cost of corruption.
In his new book The Merger Delusion, Trent says that Montrealers were lied to and that “swallowing the suburbs made an even bigger mess of Montreal.”
In his 700 page book, Trent pulled no punches, writing “this was a catastrophe, there's no other way to describe it.”
He points out citizens were promised that services would cost less because there would be economies of scale. Instead the cost of delivering services rose by $215 per resident as the salaries of all city workers' rose, and the number of people working for the city also rose by 1500.
“And you know what, they weren't policemen, they weren’t blue collars, they were pencil pushers,” Trent said in an interview with CTV Montreal.
He says the worst example of how the megacity failed was the water meter contract.
“It was a $500 million contract, the biggest Montreal has ever accorded, and it was approved in 53 seconds,” said Trent.
With Montreal long been riddled with corruption, Trent said the problem just grew in the megacity. He adds that construction companies gave former Mayor Gerald Tremblay money to fight the demergers.
“The construction companies loved the megacity,” said Trent. “Because all of a sudden, it doubled or tripled all their contracts.”
But the Louise Harel, the former municipal affairs minister who brought in the forced mergers, said that Trent can’t let go of an old fight.
But Trent argues what's happening at city hall is largely proof of the megacity's a failure. Among his ideas to fix it: reduce costs, cut jobs and give more powers to the boroughs.