Platforms and promises: Your guide to Montreal's municipal election

·7 min read
Valérie Plante of Projet Montréal is facing off against her predecessor, Denis Coderre, and newcomer Balarama Holness in the race for Montreal mayor. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC - image credit)
Valérie Plante of Projet Montréal is facing off against her predecessor, Denis Coderre, and newcomer Balarama Holness in the race for Montreal mayor. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC - image credit)

With only a few short weeks left before election day, are you still figuring out who you're voting for?

Montreal's municipal election campaign is in full swing. Valérie Plante, leading Projet Montréal, is hoping to be re-elected for a second term as mayor. But she's not the only incumbent in the race.

Denis Coderre has thrown his hat back into the ring, leading Ensemble Montréal. He was first elected mayor in 2013 before being defeated by Plante in 2017.

Newcomer Balarama Holness is also on the ticket, with his new party Mouvement Montréal. The party turned heads when it absorbed the now-defunct Ralliement pour Montréal.

All three parties have released their platforms. Montrealers will have a chance to hear them jostle over these proposals at an English-language debate on Oct. 28.

Here's a look at where the parties stand on the big issues. This page will be updated regularly until the vote, Nov. 6 and 7.

Housing

  • Projet Montréal has committed to building 60,000 affordable housing units over 10 years, a number opponents have derided as unrealistic. The party also says it would implement an "owner certificate" for landlords who own buildings of eight or more units. The certificate would act as a register to control illegal rent increases and to keep track of renovation or construction requests. It also announced a project to convert some unused office spaces downtown into residential dwellings.

  • Ensemble Montréal would create a rent registry and increase the number of inspectors. Companies that own housing would have to have any unit that's over 20 years old independently inspected. Coderre has also promised to build 50,000 new housing units in his first mandate if elected, though that information was not noted in the platform.

  • Mouvement Montréal would create a register to serve as a rent control system. A landlord licensing system would also be put in place, with the idea of conducting yearly inspections of rental properties. The party has committed to increasing the city's housing budget two per cent every year for four years. It says it would build 30,000 affordable rental units next to major transportation hubs.

Policing

  • Ensemble Montréal does not mention the police budget in its platform but has committed to bringing in body cams in a first mandate. Coderre has also said he would not cut funding to the police.

  • Mouvement Montréal's platform proposes reducing the police department's budget in favour of increasing funding for "affordable and social housing; health and social services; leisure, recreation and sports infrastructure." That would include freezing new SPVM projects, such as a $57-million gun range earmarked for 2020-22. Holness says up to $100 million of the SPVM's $679 million budget could be reallocated.

Environment

  • Projet Montréal has pledged to make Montreal carbon neutral by 2050. The plan includes banning single-use plastics by 2023 and planting 500,000 trees to reach 25 per cent tree canopy cover, starting with "at-risk" boroughs. The city would also create electric-car-only parking spots downtown and make the downtown core a zero-emission zone by 2030.

  • Mouvement Montréal says it would also create an independent council on "climate justice" to advise the mayor's office and incorporate Indigenous knowledge into environmental policy. It would also invest in green spaces and community gardens, though the party did not offer specific targets.

Public transit

  • Ensemble Montréal would create a "commitment of quality" charter for public transit and a monitoring committee to ensure projects, such as the Blue line expansion, stick to schedule. Expanding existing services is not mentioned in the platform.

  • Mouvement Montréal says it would offer free public transit to young Montrealers (25 and under) and seniors (65 and over). It also aims to make STM stations fully accessible by 2028 and would hold STM public consultations to identify and address gaps in service.

Bike paths

  • Projet Montréal says it would build more cycling infrastructure, including expanding the Réseau express vélo (REV). In addition, it would add more bicycle parking and create a program to subsidize the cost of family bikes, electric bikes or bikes adapted to those with mobility issues. Projet also pledges to implement awareness campaigns around cycling and road safety, with a focus on youth and children.

  • Ensemble Montréal would prioritize improving existing cycling infrastructure and training for young cyclists. The party says it would only expand the bike path network after consulting with stakeholders. Coderre has also said he would remove part of the REV bike path on Bellechasse Avenue in Rosemont and turn the space back into parking.

  • Mouvement Montréal does not mention cycling in its platform.

Neighbourhood life

  • Projet Montréal says it wants to continue the summer pedestrianization of Montreal streets and extend the patio season. Projet also wants to create more public spaces, such as sitting areas, and wants to make museums and other cultural venues free for those 17 and under. It announced it would also convert at least 15 vacant lots into sports and recreation fields.

  • Ensemble Montréal says it would try to make the city's east end a "green Silicon Valley" by encouraging green start-ups and ecologically minded businesses. For the city at large, Ensemble says it would create two new animal shelters, one in the city's east end and one in the west. It has clarified that it would not implement a bylaw against pitbull-type dogs, as it had proposed in 2017.

  • Mouvement Montréal says it would make recreational facilities free for low-income families and invest in creating "youth hubs" in community centres. It also plans to create "economic zones" in low-income neighbourhoods, which would include tax incentives for small businesses in the area.

The French language

  • Projet Montréal would create an action plan to promote the French language and would appoint a French language commissioner for the city. It also says it wants to work with partners to better help new arrivals learn French, and to encourage the use of French in businesses and workplaces, but has not offered specifics on what those initiatives would be.

  • Ensemble Montréal says the city should capitalize on the economic, touristic and cultural benefits of being a francophone metropolis, but does not have anything in its platform concerning the protection of the French language.

  • Mouvement Montréal says it would hold public consultations on whether services (public and private) should be offered in both English and French. From there, it would decide if there should be a referendum on giving Montreal bilingual status. It would also offer subsidized English and French classes for everyone, and encourage anglophones who lack "high-level" French to apply for government jobs.

Reviving downtown

  • Projet Montréal says it would invest $1 billion in downtown revitalization. It would also extend operating hours for restaurants and entertainment in the downtown core, adopt a nightlife strategy and try to promote Montreal as a food destination in North America. It also says it would work with provincial authorities to force building owners with vacant storefronts to contribute to the local merchant association. It also said it would designate zones downtown where construction work could happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to speed up the process.

  • Ensemble Montréal says it wants to work with partners (like the convention centre and Tourisme Montréal) to attract international events and foreign investment to the city. It also aims to "promote Montreal as a student city" to attract foreign students, and offer tax credits to encourage them to stay.

  • Mouvement Montréal says it would reduce industrial and commercial property taxes by 2025, and lock them in at 2.75 times the residential property tax rate. It has also proposed creating a business centre to streamline applications and permits for businesses.

Interesting tidbits

  • Ensemble Montréal says it would expand the water taxi linking Pointe-aux-Trembles to the Old Port and reach out to other municipalities (such as Terrebonne and Repentigny) about including them in the service.

  • Mouvement Montréal is promising to abolish Montreal's "welcome tax." It also says it would implement online voting in municipal referendums and would freeze elected officials' salaries for four years.

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