Rethinking city hall: Opposition wants to cut down on councillors
Published Monday, September 26, 2011 3:49PM EDT
MONTREAL - The leader of the Opposition at Montreal city hall says it is time to rethink municipal politics.
Louise Harel, who oversaw the forcible merger of municipalities throughout Quebec in 2002, is proposing at Monday's council meeting that the city drastically reduce the number of elected officials.
Montreal, which had a population of about 1.6 million in 2006, is represented by 103 city councillors, borough councillors, and mayors, Harel pointed out.
By comparison, Toronto has 44 city councillors, while New York, with a population of more than 8 million in its five boroughs, has just 51 councillors.
Harel said not only is Montreal over-governed, the discrepancy between how many people each councillor represents is quite large.
"Some represent 13,000 citizens and others more than 20,000," she said.
"It's sure that we have to discuss publicly this situation."
The Vision Montreal leader also wants to see the city consolidate boroughs, with critics saying that if New York can function with just five, there is no reason Montreal needs separate 19 boroughs, each with their own mayor and group of councillors.
Members of Union Montreal, who hold a majority at City Hall and and most borough halls throughout Montreal, dismissed the call for change.
They say having so many councillors gives residents better access to their representatives.
Mayor Gerald Tremblay said there is no appetite among the public for changing the structure of city hall, given the merger/demerger debate that began in 1998 while Harel was Minister of Municipal Affairs in the Parti Quebecois government.