(Quebec) François Legault is committed to reforming the law on expropriation and giving the right of first refusal to municipalities, but flatly refuses to review the taxation of cities, which want to get out of the shackles of property tax. He says he agrees with densification, but he still promoted his Quebec-Lévis tunnel to an assembly of elected municipal officials.

“By the end of the session, we will give you a right of first refusal on the land in your municipalities. I will make another commitment: in the next mandate, we will also adopt a law on expropriations, “launched the Prime Minister Thursday during his visit to the Assises of the Union of Quebec Municipalities.

For the moment, only the city of Montreal has the right of first refusal, which allows it to “buy in priority over any other buyer certain buildings or land in order to carry out projects for the benefit of the community”. Several other cities demanded this power.

As for the law on expropriation, the mayors were asking for a reform of this law, because at the moment, the cities find themselves having to compensate the owner for the potential income that he could draw from his land, which becomes very costly for taxpayers. In addition, the legal challenge process can drag on and slow down projects, particularly public transit. The UMQ was delighted with these two promises.

However, the Prime Minister is turning a deaf ear to a third historical request from municipalities, whose revenues are essentially based on one thing, property tax. And the more a city develops new neighborhoods, the greater its revenue. Several elected officials make a direct link between this mode of taxation and urban sprawl.

For François Legault, however, Quebec does not have the means to give fiscal space to cities. “The mayors know I’m a straight guy. I will be direct. We too have a deficit in Quebec, and our government employees earn 30% less than employees who have the same positions in the municipalities, ”said Mr. Legault in front of the audience of elected municipal officials. Yet recently, he mentioned the promise to cut taxes during the fall election campaign.

Mr. Legault told the mayors that “our taxes and our income taxes are in the ceiling” and that they are “communicating vessels”. However, he says he is “open to suggestions”. His cabinet also argues that municipalities receive more transfers under the CAQ government (an average of 6.2 billion) than under the Liberal government of Philippe Couillard (an average of 4.6 billion).

François Legault also addressed the debate between densification and urban sprawl. Its Minister of Transport François Bonnardel was criticized for claiming that densification was a “fad”. However, as La Presse wrote this morning, in his book Cap sur un Québec Gagnant, published in 2013, François Legault deplored the disadvantages of urban sprawl, favored the rehabilitation of contaminated land in the city rather than dezoning agricultural land and argued for the conversion of highways into urban boulevards.

Mr. Legault referred to it in his speech. “It is important, yes, to densify our cities, to limit urban sprawl, and one of the ways of doing this is to decontaminate the land that is in our cities. For me, that’s a priority,” he said.

In the same breath, however, he defended his highway tunnel project between Quebec and Lévis “We have the right to develop a second major metropolis in Quebec. Part of it will be done with the densification in Quebec, but we will have to put these people everywhere, and we will have to make sure that we continue to develop Chaudière-Appalaches and the regions, “he said. he says.

He also reserved a well-cooked for the mayor of Quebec Bruno Marchand, who the day before accused his government of holding a “populist” and “misleading” speech on urban sprawl, associated with the economic development of the regions. Mr. Legault thus saluted the former mayor of Quebec Régis Labeaume, the “columnist of La Presse”. “Basically, it was easy working with you Regis,” he said.

“He has the right to make jokes, he has the right to animate the crowd, at the same time, the urgency requires us to act. If we don’t act, we won’t be able to look our children in the eye and tell them, when we knew, we didn’t have the courage to act, ”retorted Bruno Marchand.

In his opinion, there is “not a scientist who is going to be able to agree” with the CAQ’s plan to develop east of Lévis with a highway tunnel that will allow people to settle more far in the countryside and to drive solo to come to work in Quebec. The president of the UMQ, Daniel Côté, also made a strong plea for concrete actions in the fight against climate change. “It’s not just one issue among many. This is the priority that should guide our decisions,” he said.

The message from the Union of Municipalities:

“It’s a tall order, but we can do it. All the municipalities are united, on this important issue, we want it, it is the number one challenge of our time, “he said.

In the National Assembly, the opposition parties all lined up behind Mayor Bruno Marchand.

“I think he said out loud what pretty much everyone thinks quietly and I think that the populism of the government, it is in several subjects”, launched the leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, who hailed the “courage” of many new mayors who publicly denounce the Legault government.

“In Quebec politics, we always say that mayors stick to power, will keep silent to try to get what they need for their city. But, right now, government statements and directions are so misleading and so off the mark that there are mayors who are responsible enough to put the facts right,” he added. Thursday.

Québec solidaire MNA Andrés Fontecilla, for his part, recalled “the essential role [in matters of] opposition” that municipalities play.

“We see that the oppositions are multiplying in Quebec [in front of] this arrogance of the Legault government which believes to have the science infused. Usually, the municipalities, which are rather very diplomatic with the government there, they raise their voices, they dare to publicly oppose various projects of the Government of Quebec, that indicates that there is something,” argues- he.

Liberal leader Dominique Anglade believes that a head-on collision is brewing between cities and the government of the Coalition avenir Québec on the front lines of the climate change, labor and housing crisis.

“These three elements definitely bring us to a crossroads. There are important decisions that need to be made that are not made by the government because we put our heads in the sand,” she explained.

https://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/politique/2022-05-12/plus-de-pouvoirs-pas-plus-d-argent-aux-villes-dit-legault.php

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