Suburbs Trying to Improve Relations with Montreal

According to a news report, new joint committees are scheduled to be put in place starting this fall. The communities could pave to an eventual overhaul of how the island-wide decision-making body – the agglomeration council – operates.

The mayor of Montreal West, Beny Masella, while speaking to Global news said that the Plante administration has agreed to meet and discuss the outstanding issues between Montreal and the suburbs.

The meetings will be focusing on several issues such as giving the suburbs a bigger ‘voice’ in the $5.5 billion island-wide budget. It will also focus on establishing a new formula that’ll be used in billing suburbs to pay for shared island-wide services. Some of the service include the public transit, the fire department, and eventually lead to a complete overhaul of the agglomeration council itself.

“We’ve actually set up some committees to look at some things that we feel need to be addressed short-term,” Masella said.

There have been several disputes over how the agglomeration council operates which has divided the mayor of the fifteen suburban towns on the island of Montreal with the city for years.

An example of one of this issue says Masella, is that“billing for police services is based on property values in a suburb and not the population. That especially hurts cities like Montreal West and Westmount which don’t have large residential populations but have very high property values.”

“We just want something that is fair and dynamic for the whole island,” Masella said.

Another suburban mayor also agrees with Masella’s statement. Georges Bourelle of Beaconsfield told Global News that they needed to hit the reset button on how the entire agglomeration council operates.

“Our residents in the de-merged cities today pay a whole lot more than they should for actual services rendered,” Bourelle said.

There is, however, some light at the end of the tunnel. Masella says that Montreal has agreed to set up joint committees with the suburbs to look into the issue.

For now, the Plante administration is yet to commit to reforming how the entire agglomeration council operates, so any real change will most likely happen very slowly for the mayors of the de-merged suburbs.

The agglomeration council of Montreal has a deeply flawed structure. The system encourages micro-local levels of government throughout the city’s 19 boroughs and the island’s 17 de-merged municipalities. It also encourages them to operate independently of each other in an inequitable and highly inefficient manner. This puts the de-merged municipalities at a power disadvantage to the city.

This fragmented system has turned political representation into a jumbled mess. Without the interest, time, and enough media coverage needed for voters to become acquainted with local candidates’ positions and platforms, the electorate of Montreal’s borough’s end up voting “down the line” for any party that beats the name of its Montreal mayoral candidate.

Instead of having a truly democratic system, they are basically picking blindly, and thus end up with the least unpalatable of the choices for the top seat, a seat which is so far removed from the local issues of potholes, snow removal and local parks.


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