Montreal will get special status from Quebec
Published Tuesday, April 29, 2014 12:13PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 29, 2014 8:34PM EDT
There will be special status for the city of Montreal, Quebec's new municipal affairs minister confirmed along with the city's mayor Tuesday.
Exactly what that will mean for the city has yet to be determined, however; it could take years before new legislation is passed to give Montreal those new powers.
Mayor Denis Coderre met with Liberal Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau Tuesday morning to discuss possible arrangements that would give the city more autonomy and financial resources to deal with the unique challenges faced by the city.
The two met for about half an hour and emerged to answer questions afterwards.
Coderre said that the meeting “went tremendously well. I think we have a great partnership, we have a minister that’s truly sensitive about the role and reality of Montreal as a metropolis.”
Coderre said that many technical details remain to be settled, however.
Moreau acknowledged that Premier Couillard had given him a mandate to strike a deal but noted that a similar deal between Toronto and the province of Ontario took two years to finalize.
“I’m not saying it’ll take two years but we’ll work at a steady pace,” said Moreau, adding that they’ll try to move faster than Toronto.
Moreau said that the province will speed through legislation that would empower a newly-created post of Montreal Inspector General with strong powers to investigate corruption.
News of the special status was welcomes by the city’s business community.
“We've seen it in words but now to have a formal recognition of Montreal region's role as an economic engine - this is what was recognized for Toronto. Secondly, the city's ability to enter directly into agreements with the federal government… there are major issues regarding infrastructure,” said president of the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, Michel Leblanc.
Leblanc also points out that allowing Montreal to make some of its own decisions makes the city's administration more accountable.
Coderre said an entente is in the works.
“We're saying that there's a total connection between the government of Quebec and the city of Montreal and as a metropolis it's great news for all the citizens,” said Coderre.
Many issues are on the table, including how to better integrate immigrants, as 85 per cent of people who move to Quebec settle in Montreal.
Also at issue:How to obtain the powers to improve road safety in Montreal and how to gain access to more streams of revenue.
No promises were made Tuesday, but a joint technical group of municipal and provincial experts will be created to examine what 'special status' will mean for Montreal.
“We have to write the legislation together so that we're singing the same tune,” said Coderre.
Joly weighs in
Former mayoral candidate Melanie Joly told reporters afterwards that Montreal should ask for 0.5 per cent of the provincial sales tax generated in the city, “because Montrealers pay for infrastructures that are also used by tourists and people living in Laval and Longueuil.”
Joly said that Montreal’s budget relies too heavily on property tax.
“If we look at other metropolises in North America, there are no other big cities like Montreal that are property tax junkies, Montreal is financed at 70 percent by property tax and that puts a lot of pressure on its development, while others use the Montreal’s infrastructure."