Montreal budget 2019: Here’s what you need to know

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante presented her municipal budget of $5.7 billion Thursday, which focuses on investing in the economy, environment, housing and mobility.

The city also revealed its three-year capital works program of $6.4 billion.

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“This budget clearly breaks from the past,” said Plante.

“This budget will make a difference in the lives of our citizens today and for the generations to come.”

Property taxes will not increase this cycle. The city currently collects around $3.6 billion in property taxes, which represents 67.5 per cent of the administration’s total funding — down from 68.4 per cent from the last budget.

The city is proposing a 1.7 per cent increase in residential taxes, as well as a 1.3 per cent increase for businesses.

Though Plante insisted residents will not pay more than the rate of inflation, some boroughs will be paying higher than others.

Residential property tax increases across the Island of Montreal, Nov. 8, 2018.

This includes Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (2.75 per cent), Île-Bizard-Sainte-Geneviève (2.53 per cent), Outremont (2.03 per cent), Plateau-Mont-Royal (2.12 per cent) Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie (2.58 per cent) and Villeray-Sainte-Michel-Parc-Extension (2.16 per cent).

The demerged cities will have to contribute $86.2 million in 2019 to eliminate their deficit.

The average is an increase of one per cent for the water tax, a 0.05 increase for the roadwork tax and 0.35 per cent increase for the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM), which oversees public transit.

Mobility and road safety

The city is allocating almost $2 billion to road infrastructure and transportation projects over the next three years. This includes:

  • $25.1 million to increasing borough budgets.
  • $15 million to develop a network of mobility poles.
  • $1 million to the bureau for the Metro’s pink line.
  • $6.5 million to prep for the Metro’s blue line extension.
  • $437.5 million to develop the streets and promote public transit.
  • $8.3 million to support the Caisse de dépôt’s Réseau express métropolitain (REM).
  • $38.5 million to increase school zone safety, in accordance with Vision Zero.

The city said it also plans to step up efforts to encourage people to safely walk or bike around the city. It will do this by investing $89 million to maintain cycling infrastructure and optimizing the BIXI bike system.

“Every priority that we are putting forth reflects our commitment to making our metropolis a welcome and prosperous living environment,” said Plante.

“It is clear to our administration that mobility requires a better offer of public transit service.”

STM commitments

The STM also released its 2019 budget, at $1.5 billion. It revealed its 2019-2028 capital expenditure program, at $15.6 billion.

This includes adding extra buses and new AZUR trains to the existing network — the first of 17 new trains for the green line are expected to arrive in spring 2020.

The STM plans to install elevators in the Jean-Drapeau and Jean-Talon Metro stations and have a total of 41 stations equipped for access by 2025.

Starting next March, the STM will reduce off-peak wait times to a maximum of five minutes on the green and orange lines on weekdays.

It will also deliver 125 air-conditioned hybrid buses next year to replace those that are outdated while adding 300 new buses by 2020.

Economic development and housing

The 2019 budget is promising to lower the tax burden for local business owners by 10 per cent on the first increment of $500,000 or less, based on their property assessment value.

The city also plans to invest $5.2 million to compensate businesses affected by roadwork and construction.

It will add $1.2 million to support the 2018-2022 economic development strategy.

Plante’s administration said it will continue with its commitment to create 12,000 social housing units, allocating $50 million over a 10-year period.

This is an increase of $40.6 million — a total of $90.1 million for housing.

  • $21.2 million will go to Montreal’s homeownership program, an increase of $10.7 million.
  • $10.3 million will fund affordable housing measures.
  • $7.6 million will go to renovation support, an increase of $3.7 million.
  • $2.5 million to improving shelters, an increase of $2 million.
  • $2 million to support heritage social and community housing projects.

Environment

“The protection and quality of our green spaces are essential to the development of our city for future generations,” the city states, noting that it is increasing its green space protection investment by $104 million over the next three years.

This includes:

  • $60 million to purchase green spaces.
  • $56.8 million to redevelop large parks.
  • $57 million to fix up green spaces and local parks over the next few years.
  • $29.5 million to manage urban forests.
  • $3.3 million for the green corridor network, to support sustainable mobility and protect natural environments.

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