City of Montreal clashes with boroughs over financing plan

The City of Montreal unveiled a new funding formula for the city’s 19 boroughs Tuesday that will see some gain and others lose their current share of city money starting in 2015.

Big gains for Lasalle, big losses for Outremont, Plateau and Ville-Marie under new funding formula

Plateau-Mont-Royal Mayor Luc Ferrandez says the City of Montreal's new funding formula for boroughs enforces an "unjust uniformity." (CBC)

The City of Montreal unveiled a new funding formula for the city’s 19 boroughs Tuesday that would see some gain and others lose their current share of city financing starting in 2015.

The reforms were announced Tuesday by Mayor Denis Coderre and Pierre Desrochers, head of the city’s Executive Committee.

Of Montreal's 19 boroughs, ten would see their funding from the city increase. Nine would see their funding decline under the reforms.

Boroughs including Lasalle, Pierrefonds-Roxboro and Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles would benefit under the new formula, which is to be rolled out over five years, beginning in 2015.

Outremont, Plateau-Mont-Royal, Ville-Marie and the Southwest borough are among those that would see big decreases in their city funding decrease over a ten-year period, starting next year.

The formula applies to funding for 12 services including snow removal, water, parks, libraries and public health.

Coderre said the new formula responds to historic inequalities identified by a study of borough financing undertaken in 2012 and 2013.

Equity or uniformity?

“It’s a matter of equity. You’re not losing. We are making sure that all Montrealers — no matter where they live — will have the same quality of service,” Coderre said.

“Where’s the equity in this?" asked Plateau–Mont-Royal Mayor Luc Ferrandez, whose borough would see its budget reduced by 13 per cent under the scheme.

"It’s based on uniformity, but it’s an unjust uniformity,” he said, pointing out his borough – with a population of 103,000 compared to 73,000 in Lasalle – would end up with the same amount of money as Lasalle, despite being home to thousands of more businesses. 

Ferrandez said the Plateau also hosts 300 public events a year and receives 100,000 visitors a day.

Coderre, however, insists that such differences are being taken into account under the financing reforms.

François Croteau, mayor of the Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie borough, said the new formula will spark "chaos."

"It will mean the complete devastation of our borough budgets and the closure of libraries and pools," he said.

Outremont Mayor Marie Cinq-Mars was outraged by the financing reforms, which would see her borough lose nearly 20 per cent of its funding from the city over the next 10 years.

"It's totally unacceptable," she said. "Is it possible to compare a park near the city centre, where there are activities almost every weekend that we have to clean up after, and a park at the end of the island? It makes no sense. We can't accept this."

A breakdown of the borough funding changes (Ville de Montréal)