Text published in Le Devoir.
February 4, 2010
Having the means of a real metropolis
Jointly signed by:
Michel Leblanc, President and CEO, Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Jean Laramée, Chairman of the board, Urban development Institute of Quebec (UDI-Quebec)
Sonia Trudel, President, BOMA Québec
Jocelyn Lafond, Chairman of Governmental Affairs Committee, BOMA Québec
Gerry Girard, Président, Montreal Parking Association
Manon Parisien, Provincial Director - ICSC
François Meunier, Vice-President, Public and Government Affairs (ARQ)
We are extremely concerned about the new tax imposed on Montréal downtown parking lots. The 2010 municipal budget shows that Montréal's finances are in a vulnerable state. By sharply increasing the tax burden of businesses and residents, this budget is hobbling a still fragile economy.
This new parking-lot tax and the hike in property taxes are weakening the City's business base. Merchants, hotelkeepers, property owners and tenants will all have to shoulder additional pressure at a time when we are still struggling to emerge from the recession, which last year wiped out more than 35,000 jobs on the island of Montréal.
Of course we all have great ambitions for our City. We know that if Montréal is to retain its status as a metropolis, we must invest in a key element of its development: the modernization of the transit system, particularly, public transit. According to the City of Montréal, more than $8 billion is needed over the next 20 years to finance its transportation plan. That's a massive amount.
In light of the challenges, the City has decided to make use of the new taxation powers granted by the Quebec government. But clearly this tool is inadequate, aiming the tax hikes squarely at Montréal businesses when the needs, particularly for public transit, are of a metropolitan nature.
The Quebec government's support is therefore essential if Montréal is to have revenues commensurate with its economic impact. To this end, certain measures merit consideration, such as a gradual increase in the gasoline tax, as suggested by the Mayor, allocating a portion of sales tax revenues to the City, and raising the vehicle registration fee in the metropolitan area. All these options should be looked at carefully.
To ensure a bright future for Montréal, we must clearly acknowledge its role as a metropolis, along with the associated responsibilities and costs. Generating 50% of the province's GDP and jobs, Greater Montréal's economy creates wealth that benefits all Quebecers.
Montréal needs and deserves solid backing. In order to develop to its full potential, it must have a state-of-the-art transit system. The opposition to the parking-lot tax shows that the City needs new revenue sources so it can have the means of a real metropolis.