Quebec and the municipalities: a financial and power relationship better defined

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CHRONICLES. Municipalities don’t just deal with aqueducts, sewer, police, fire, garbage, and road maintenance and snow removal.

They must also address the more specific and diverse expectations of citizens regarding urban planning, the environment, transportation, culture and recreation, and concern themselves with issues such as poverty, homelessness, health (sanitation). , air quality, noise), welcoming immigrants. , not to forget pandemics and natural disasters.

We also expect elected municipal officials to have a vision, anticipate tomorrow’s needs, manage risks, plan for the collective interest, to ensure the financial stability of their municipality, to worry about change. -or climate and infrastructure sustainability.

According to the Center for Expertise and Research in Urban Infrastructure, potable water and wastewater pipes and pavements on these high and very high risk of failure have a replacement value of 33.6 billion dollars (G $) by 2021 .However, only a few municipalities have taken a way to repair and maintain it. In part, Gatineau created for this purpose, in 2010, a special 1% tax and a “life cycle” reserve, bringing in 100 million dollars (M $) by 2021.

Growth and development

Territorial development has not always been done in the best possible way. Sometimes this happens in anarchy, with no regard for the protection of agricultural land and urban expansion, which, as Municipal Minister Andrée Laforest said, “costs a fortune”. Consider the costs of construction and maintenance of road and municipal and municipal infrastructure and other services (electricity, telecommunications) that need to be installed and maintained, and the direct cost for citizens in terms of travel costs and loss of time to result.

Better planning in towns, in regional county towns, in regional communities and by the Government of Quebec may make it possible to avoid many mistakes, such as the unbridled growth of Saint-Lin-Laurentides. , where we were not sure there was enough water. reserve prior to construction.

Minister Laforest’s land use planning policy is a step in the right direction, but it remains to be seen what commitments the government will make for its implementation.

Tax to think again

Typically, municipalities are funded by property tax for 70% of their costs. In 2019, they obtained a new tax agreement from the Legault government, giving them 1% of the sales tax, i.e. $ 730 million over five years, and the creation of a Region and Rurality Fund of $ 225 million. also in five years. François Legault has refused to renegotiate a new agreement, but it is possible that new resources will have to be provided to municipalities.

While municipalities are being asked to increase more, in order to protect established heritage, in order to make it more affordable and social housing, Quebec cannot content itself with giving them a preemption power (priority purchase on the left). yet other possible buyers) of buildings and land and to renovate. the Expropriation Act to expedite procedures without giving them a new course of action. Industrial and commercial urban land that can be turned into residential complexes needs to be decontaminated, which is expensive.

Cheap and social housing cannot be developed without financial contribution from the State. Housing shortages are hitting everywhere and vacancy rates are below 2% in many municipalities. In the greater Montreal area, more than 200,000 households spend more than 30% of their gross income on housing.

Cities are becoming more assertive about eco-taxation and pricing, especially of drinking water, which is happily wasted and where many cities do not pay attention to billing according to the amount consumed, which, moreover, is unfair. This is the case with wastes sent to treatment centers and the use of public roads. The fuel tax to fund public transportation is relevant, but electric cars also put up public roads, hence the relevance of mileage pricing.

Municipalities can also charge real estate developers the costs of the infrastructure needed for their projects (aqueducts, sewers, streets and sidewalks) to avoid them being paid by all taxpayers. Less than half of Quebec’s municipalities will take advantage of it. They can also demand royalties on developments, as Montreal is doing around metro stations and the upcoming Metropolitan Express Network.

autonomy

A better distribution of powers between Quebec and the municipalities and greater accountability of the latter would make it possible to avoid much duplication. The City of Gatineau estimates that everything done twice by its officers and Quebec technocrats in 2016 required 74,000 man -hours of 41 officers. This disease will also affect universities, CEGEPs, school service centers and school boards. It was in this direction that François Legault had to seek the positions he had promised to cut.

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I like

The Canadian government has banned Chinese OEMs Huawei and ZTE from selling their 5G telecommunications infrastructure to Canadian mobile phone companies. The Chinese government, which uses its telecommunications infrastructures to monitor its citizens and even Chinese abroad, has become more imperialist under Xi Jinping’s leadership. The Chinese state, which operates an extensive network of industrial spies and men, cannot be considered reliable. Ottawa rightly believes that there is a risk to our national security and to Canadians if Huawei is still allowed to deploy this Chinese infrastructure in our country.

i don’t like

Based on the information obtained by The Press, the cost of 3,480 premises pledged by the old homes pledged by the Legault government reached $ 2.8 billion. More than $ 800,000 for each seat. In October 2021, a report by a government -created commission estimated that the cost of these houses would be 1.5 to 2 times the cost of traditional CHSLDs. Rising construction costs could further widen this gap, making it an even more expensive project. However, the government has no intention of reducing its objective regarding the number of promised areas.

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