The city of Montreal now officially has new powers within the Quebec government after a law was adopted unanimously Thursday at the National Assembly.
Municipal Affairs Minister Martin Coiteux said the new law with allow Montreal to fully take on its role as a local government.
The move was welcomed by Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who is facing a municipal election in November.
“It changes that we have more tools to work with,” said Coderre, who called it an historic day.
Projet Montreal leader and mayoral hopeful Valerie Plante said she doesn’t think the status goes far enough.
“We know right now all the revenue the city of Montreal gets relies on the taxation that we have, which is the property tax, so I’m disappointed that there is nothing about that. This is what Montrealers are asking for,” she said.
Bill 121, An Act to increase the autonomy and powers of Ville de Montreal, the metropolis of Quebec, will grant Montreal certain powers currently held by various ministries within the provincial government, including social housing, fighting homelessness, and improving the integration of immigrants.
Montreal will be able to take more action to promote building family housing, and against the owners of dilapidated buildings without consulting with the province first.
It will also allow Montreal to help businesses in new ways.
Business owners, especially those affected by street construction, have frequently complained that the city has not been able or willing to reduce their tax bills.
“In housing, in economic development, it will provide us especially with the commerce of proximity. When we have major work being done, we will be able to compensate and subsidize,” said Coderre.
Under Bill 121, Montreal can create groups that are able to provide material, equipment, and more to help businesses.
Montreal would be able to determine opening hours for stores and the operating hours for permits authorizing the sale of alcohol.
Some bar owners on Crescent St. said they disagreed with the idea.
“It sounds like a bad idea, just instinctively, because the guys on the city council are in the bar business or see and experience and work with little issues,” said Jeffret Picard, managing partner at Brutopia Brew Pub.
“There is a lot of added expense in staying open longer -- the security, the staffing -- and it’s not for much more money. Three (a.m.) is good. Maybe events like Grand Prix, you go to 4,” said Rod Applebee, the general manager at Hurley’s Irish Pub.
Coderre, however, has tested out later opening hours before, and said he will try it again.
“You bet. We had a pilot project that I wanted. They said no. Now I have the capacity to do it, so first things first, there is a wonderful word in politics called ‘pilot project.’ We will pick it up from there,” he said.
First tabled last December, Coderre and Coiteux entered into a framework agreement then on the new status, and money was allotted to the city in the spring budget for that purpose.
Read the full bill here:
With files from The Canadian Press