More money, more control: Quebec giving Montreal special status
Published Thursday, December 8, 2016 2:28PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 8, 2016 6:46PM EST
In an historic moment for Montreal, the province of Quebec has granted the city special status.
Municipal Affairs Minister Martin Coiteux tabled legislation Thursday morning that will give Montreal more money and more control to determine its own fate.
He also signalled a change in how the provincial legislature will treat the city.
"We are proposing developing a 'Montreal reflex' in the law," said Coiteux. "Doing what we can to improve Montreal, and thinking about how laws will affect our metropolis."
Mayor Denis Coderre said he had lobbied for this for a long time, and was glad to see it finally take place.
“Now we're talking about the new partnership between the municipal level as a government of proximity and the government of Quebec, and frankly that's great news,” he said.
"For political reasons for a long time we have treated Montreal as a region like any other," said Coderre. "This is no longer the case.”
Bill 121 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.
It will also allow Montreal to help businesses in new ways.
Montreal would be able to determine opening hours for stores and the operating hours for permits authorizing the sale of alcohol.
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.
Under Bill 121, Montreal can create groups that are able to provide material, equipment, and more to help businesses.
"We have to give pertinence, reliability, control to Montreal so we can be the engine that pulls our [economic] train," said Coderre. “It's not a matter of a title. That's the point. It's a matter of tools to work with to make sure we enhance quality of life of our people on our territory.”
Coiteux said this is proof the government is delivering on its promises.
“We're doing exactly what we said to Quebecers we would be doing - in public finances, in municipal autonomy - recognizing the status of the National Capital of Quebec City, the status of metropolis for Montreal,” he said.
Quebec will also be giving Montreal money annually for an economic development fund. It starts with $10 million in next year and will rise to $50 million by 2022.