Montreal-area mayors unveil new funding schemes for drinking water, downtown core

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre unveiled two new agreements on funding for the downtown core and drinking water accompanied by the mayors of seven area municipalities this morning.

Montreal suburbs will pay for water according to consumption starting in 2017

Westmount Mayor Peter Trent and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre sign the two agreements on downtown core development and drinking water billing. (CBC)

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre unveiled two new agreements with the 15 cities of the Montreal agglomeration Friday concerning drinking water bills and downtown core development.

Coderre made the announcement Friday at a news conference accompanied by the mayors of seven of the 15 cities in the agglomeration, which was formed in 2005 after the demerger of many Montreal suburbs. 

Starting next year, billing for water will be based on the actual volume consumed by each city instead of property assessments.

That agreement was meant to bring a more equitable distribution of drinking water costs among the cities. 

Westmount Mayor Peter Trent, who serves as the president of the agglomeration council, said the new agreement also has an obvious and important environmental dimension, too.

"Charging for water among municipalities based on volume will serve as a motivation to reduce our consumption," Trent said.

Rates based on consumption are the norm across North America, he added. 

Funding for downtown development

Also starting in 2017, annual contributions from the cities to maintain and develop infrastructure in downtown Montreal will be fixed at $8 million starting in 2017 and indexed annually.

"This agreement represents a strong political gesture by all the cities on the Island of Montreal confirming the importance of Montreal's downtown," Coderre said.

Both Trent and Coderre said the two issues had been sources of tension between the city and its suburbs for years, and the agreements allow them to now move forward.

Trent called the agreements a "watershed moment."

"We've proved, once and for all, that the mayors of the reconstituted cities can come up with a solution that is fair, equitable and could indeed lead to other agreements on other issues that have been bothering us for some years."

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