• Carmen Marie Fabio

Mayors of demerged cities sign agreement in principle with agglo committee


PHOTO COURTESY KARLA KAMINSKI

(Seated, foreground): Westmount Mayor Peter Trent (left) and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre. (Standing, left to right): Kirkland Mayor Michel Gibson, Town of Mount Royal Mayor Philippe Roy, Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle, Montreal Executive Committee President Pierre Durocher, Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa, Senneville Mayor Jane Guest, and Dollard des Ormeaux Mayor Ed Janiszewski.

In the year that marks the 10th anniversary of the 2006 demerger from the Parti Québécois’ failed ‘Une île, une ville’ project in 2000, 14 mayors from the demerged cities signed an agreement in principle March 4 to promote collaboration and improved functioning between their respective towns and the Ville de Montréal.

The agreement will see the demerged cities support the development for the ‘centre-ville’ and the establishment of billing for water consumption that will adhere to a more equitable formula.

“The cost per litre of drinking water will go down for us,” said Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle of the billing that will have a greater basis on consumption. “This is for the production and distribution of water. The investment (costs) on infrastructure remains based on real estate value.”

The total amount contributed by all the demerged cities increases from $6 million to $8 million, indexed annually based on the consumer price index from the Conference Board for the metropolitan area. Bourelle said while the change in the amount charged for water is not significant to individual residents, the greater benefit comes with the renegotiation of the ‘quote-parts’ or quotas, the agglomeration tax that all demerged cities pay.

“The quote-parts is based on the agglomeration budget that is then split on the basis of real estate value for all cities involved including Montreal.” Bourelle said the mayors have agreed to pay an extra $2 million into the agglomeration budget in the short term.

When the Liberal Provincial Government allowed for demergers following its 2003 election win, it was with the caveat that the demerged cities would pay an amount to support centre-ville under the logic that demerged residents still travel to, and use the services and facilities of, Montreal.

“We’ve been paying this ($6 million) and it’s been going up over the last few years,” said Bourelle.

Mayors of the demerged cities have expressed repeated disagreement on a number of projects as to whether or not they’re necessary or what actually constitutes the ‘centre ville’ area and said their 12.7 per cent of the vote at the agglomeration council means they could never have a fair voting voice.

“If you add all our populations together,” said Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa of the demerged cities, “it’s the equivalent of the fourth largest city in the province of Quebec and their voices are being silenced. That structure needs to be revisited.”

Hawa said though not all issues have been addressed, the agreement represents a significant savings in time in deciding if projects fall under the predefined parameters. “Because we have the compromise on the water issue, we basically break even.”

“It’s a compromised agreement to some degree and by doing it the way we did, we’re taking a big step forward,” added Bourelle.

By agreeing to cap its annual contribution at $8 million, the mayors calculate it as a cost-effective measure based on future projected development projects for Montreal.

The agreement still needs to be ratified by the provincial government.

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