Montreal caps property tax increases, boosts spending for police, housing in 2022 budget

·5 min read
Montreal caps property tax increases, boosts spending for police, housing in 2022 budget

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante's administration is promising to tackle homelessness, address the housing crisis and increase public security spending — without significantly raising property taxes.

The city unveiled its proposed operating and capital works budgets for 2022 on Wednesday.

The operating budget will be $6.46 billion for 2022, a 1.3 per cent increase over last year, with an additional $19 billion earmarked for a 10-year capital works program.

What it means for your taxes

Residential taxes, which can vary from borough to borough, will see an average increase of about two per cent.

For the average detached home in Montreal, evaluated at $535,000, it represents an $83 increase. For condos, it is an average of $7 more.

Charles Contant/CBC
Charles Contant/CBC

Here are some highlights by borough:

  • The borough of L'Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève will see the highest jump in the city, with taxes going up on average 5.1 per cent.

  • Homeowners in Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles will have the lowest increase, with a meagre 0.1 per cent average increase.

  • Côte-Des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-De-Grâce, Outremont, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, Le Sud-Ouest, Verdun and Ville-Marie will see average increases between two and three per cent.

  • LaSalle, Pierrefonds–Roxboro, Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, Saint-Laurent and Saint-Léonard will see average increases of one to two per cent.

  • Finally, Ahuntsic–Cartierville, Anjou, Lachine, Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Montréal-Nord and Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension will see average increases of 1.5 per cent or less.

Non-residential and commercial taxes will be increased anywhere from 0.3 to three per cent, depending on the borough, with the exception of Anjou, which is reducing commercial taxes by 0.2 per cent.

However, businesses will soon start paying a municipal water tax, which will be tied to how much water they consumer.

Housing and commercial spaces

In a bid to tackle the city's housing crisis, the city has set aside $111 million in 2022 to create 12,000 new social and affordable housing units.

Plante said that the city is dependent on the Quebec government to fund social housing initiatives, but said the province hasn't invested in the program for the past two years, "which is a huge problem."

She said the vast majority of that $111 million will go toward making social housing happen, without or without the provincial government.

WATCH | Valérie Plante explains how the city will reach its housing goals:

"We are determined to finalize [our previous goals] because it is crucial. And to be honest, the needs are even more than that," she said.

The city will still work with provincial counterparts to try to get "extra funding," she said.

Another $116 million over the next 10 years will go toward purchasing land in a new plan to build 60,000 affordable units by 2031.

It's not just housing that might get scooped up by the city. The administration is committing $5 million in 2022 to purchasing commercial properties as well, to "maintain a commercial, social and cultural mix by promoting the affordability" of commercial spaces.

Dominique Ollivier, the president of the city's executive committee, said the goal is to have the city act as a lever to ensure commercial rents remain affordable for local small businesses.

"We always talk about diversity on the residential level, but we should also talk about [commercial] diversity," she said.

Public security and bodycams

The Plante administration has once again raised the budget of the Montreal police, this time to the tune of $45 million, bringing the total budget to about $724 million.

About $4.6 million of that is specifically to fight gun violence.

"We have all been affected by the rise of violence, that includes guns, in the last months," she said, describing it as a growing trend. "That is something I'm really preoccupied with."

Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada
Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada

Public security accounts for 17.7 per cent of the total budget.

About $500,000 has been allocated to equipping officers with body cameras in 2022. A total of $17 million has been earmarked for the cameras over 10 years.

The first pilot projects using the body cameras will begin in 2022, but a full rollout across the police service isn't expected before 2023.

Ollivier said that's because several changes need to be made to accommodate the cameras structurally, such as making sure the servers can handle all the data and make it accessible, for example.

Alternative approaches

Non-police initiatives – such as programs to prevent youth violence and the EMMIS (Équipe mobile de médiation et d'intervention sociale) unit, which sends social workers to respond to 911 calls – can expect $5.6 million in funding this coming year.

Plante said that tackling violence in the city has to be a team effort between police and community groups.

"[We need to be] finding solutions, understanding better, and acting promptly so our kids feel safe in their neighbourhoods," she said.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press
Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Another $1.2 million will go toward conjugal violence programs, after a particularly deadly year for violence against women across Quebec.

As promised by Plante Tuesday when she announced a local state of emergency, the city doubled its budget to fight homelessness, committing $5.9 million in 2022.

The money is not yet tied to any specific programs or initiatives. Officials are set to meet community organizations early in 2022 to present the new funding program and assess the needs.

How the money will ultimately be allocated will be announced early next year.

Opposition calls budget 'outdated'

The city's official opposition, Ensemble Montréal, reacted to the budget in a statement, accusing the plan of being outdated in the face of the Omicron variant.

"We do not find any money dedicated to financial assistance programs; the administration has budgeted as if there was
no pandemic," wrote Aref Salem, the leader of the opposition for the party.

Salem accused the administration of rushing to table the budget, instead of choosing to wait until January, to properly account for the effect of rising case numbers.

Montreal reported 1,757 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

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