Allison Hanes: What Montreal needs from the next Quebec budget

The expectation of grants from the next provincial budget once again highlights the need for cities like Montreal to have more revenue tools of their own.

Content of the article

Montrealers can check off an item on our wish list for Quebec’s next budget, which is due on Tuesday.

Advertisement 2

Content of the article

On Friday, Chantal Rouleau, Quebec’s Delegate Minister of Transport, Pablo Rodriguez, Federal Minister of Heritage, and Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal, announced funding of approximately $6 billion to relaunch the long blocked extension of the Blue Line from the metro.

It’s a relief to see a project that dates back to the 1980s reach the final stages of planning and construction. Extending the Blue Line is all the more important given the recently unveiled Eastern REM, overseen by the infrastructure branch of the Caisse de depot et placement, which has become mired in a political stalemate over social acceptability. of its elevated design.

Investments in new public transport are essential for the future of Montreal in order to fight congestion, reduce pollution, fight climate change and make the city livable. But the City, even with its $6.4 billion operating budget and its $19 billion 10-year capital plan, does not have the means to do so. Thus, provincial (and federal) budget time is an opportunity to present plans and priorities, in hopes of securing money from higher levels of government.

Advertisement 3

Content of the article

Along with new eastbound transit lines, Montreal could also benefit from an extension of the western section of the orange line to Bois Franc to connect to the original REM, which is expected to come into service by now. 2024.

Equally urgent, however, is adequate funding for existing public transit, which has been challenged by COVID-19. Ridership hasn’t fully rebounded, and agencies from the Société de transport de Montréal to Exo are struggling to maintain service levels despite severe budget shortfalls. In fact, the entire financing model dating from the 1990s needs to be reviewed, according to Luc Tremblay, the director general of the STM, who called for urgent reform when he recently announced his retirement.

Soaring housing prices for buyers and renters are creating an affordability crisis in Montreal. The city created a registry of rental properties to track cost increases and pledged to build social housing for people on the fringes. But he needs more money from the provincial government to turn the pledges into homes for individuals and families struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

Advertisement 4

Content of the article

The precariousness of housing in Montreal also requires Quebec to devote more money to the fight against homelessness. Insufficient funding usually results in stopgap measures announced at the last minute, which end up costing more in the long run. Non-profit community service groups have a proven plan to provide a permanent solution to homelessness. One Step More offers a continuum of care to help the most vulnerable in society get off the streets and into permanent housing. But so far, the government has not provided resources commensurate with the scale of the problem.

More money is also needed to prevent homelessness in the first place, including a dramatic increase in the budget for rent supplements.

To deal with an upsurge in gun crime in Montreal in recent years, Quebec has already devoted more than $90 million for new police measures to suppress illegal arms trafficking. But a concomitant rise in youth violence that has claimed the lives of five teenagers since the start of 2021 also underscores the need for prevention. Montreal announced more than $50 million for local organizations that work with youthbut more core funding from Quebec is needed to support this important work.

Advertisement 5

Content of the article

During a one-day strike in February, workers in the nonprofit community sector – which fight poverty, exclusion and violence, often on a shoestring budget – said they needed of stability funding of around $460 million of Quebec to cover their activities.

Since cities are creatures of the province under the Canadian constitution, Montreal is entirely dependent on higher levels of government for important programs, infrastructure and activities. The city derives 67% of its revenue from commercial and residential property taxes, which are already quite expensive.

But she could be misusing new income-generating tools to help give her more independence and financial leeway. It was left out of a “new deal” for the metropolis negotiated by former mayor Denis Coderre in 2016. It may be time to renew and strengthen this “Montreal reflex” so that it finally includes mechanisms to increase income.

The expectation of handouts from the next provincial budget only underscores what Montreal and other major cities really need: greater autonomy worthy of their important status.

[email protected]

  1. Denis Coderre walks past Balarama Holness as Coderre arrives at City Hall to file his mayoral nomination papers on September 17.  Both candidates are asking the federal government for long-term structural changes to Montreal's skewed relationship with the province, albeit in very different ways.

    Allison Hanes: Cities in Quebec need more electricity, especially Montreal

  2. The CEO of the Old Brewery Mission said reactively putting in place temporary emergency measures every winter is expensive and fails to help Montreal's homeless out of the crisis.

    Allison Hanes: More palliative measures, say Montreal homeless groups

Advertisement 1

comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. Visit our Community Rules for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Comments are closed.