Montreal

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

Montreal's political parties have been busy making promises. Here's a breakdown of the key commitments from the main parties ahead of the Nov. 6 and 7 vote.

We break down the key commitments from the main parties

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)

Are you still figuring out who you're voting for?

You can vote in the Montreal election on Nov. 6 and Nove. 7. Valérie Plante, leading Projet Montréal, is hoping to be re-elected for a second term as mayor. 

Denis Coderre is also trying for a second term, as leader of 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.

Here's a look at where the parties stand on the big issues now that the parties have released their platforms.

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 and would expand social housing eligibility to include those who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents. 

Policing

  • Projet Montréal has pledged an extra $110 million for public security to tackle gun violence and "ensure the safety of Montreal neighbourhoods," in addition to a $15 million emergency fund. It also promises to give $5 million to local community groups that work to prevent violence and says it will outfit the SPVM with body cameras in 2022. It also wants the ÉMMIS pilot project, which sends social workers to respond to some 911 calls without police, expanded to all boroughs.

  • Ensemble Montréal says it will not cut funding to the police. It says that, in its first mandate, it would bring in body cams and hire 250 more police officers for the SPVM. It would also double funding for the police teams that work with, or are staffed by, social workers. It would also have the chief of police double as one of the city's assistant city managers, reporting to the city manager.

  • 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." Holness says up to $100 million of the SPVM's $679 million budget could be reallocated. It would also mandate annual training for officers on issues such as domestic violence and anti-racism and ban the police service from using facial recognition technology.

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.

  • Ensemble Montréal says it would promote the concentration and electrification of transit. It would also form a committee with the province to reduce carbon emissions. Locally, it has committed to having trees planted on every street in Montreal and says it would push to have UNESCO recognize Mount Royal as a heritage site. It also said it would also create an elevated park on the Notre-Dame viaduct, reminiscent of the New York High Line, and cover the Décarie Expressway to create a public green space.

  • 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. Mouvement says it would also place more recycling/compost bins in public spaces, ban single-use plastics, and create a scientific liaison office to assist in drafting policy.

Public transit

  • Projet Montréal says it will push for further Metro line expansions, including the Blue line extension. The platform specifically mentions the Pink line, which was one of Plante's signature promises in 2017. Projet would also add 300 buses to the STM network, and commits to making all public transit buses fully electric by 2025, making rides free for seniors and cutting the cost of a pass by half for those age 12-17.

  • 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), seniors (65 and over), and reduced fairs for low-income Montrealers. It also aims to make STM stations fully accessible by 2028 and would hold STM public consultations to identify and address gaps in service. It would also provide a tax rebate to companies that buy transit passes in bulk for employees. It would encourage an extension of the REM de l'Est toward Rivière-des-Prairies.

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 says it would hold a public consultation on cycling to expand the network and "remedy issues between cycling and on-street parking." It would also co-ordinate future bike-path development with commercial and residential stakeholders and require a licence for electric bikes that go faster than 30 km/h.

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 also has committed to prioritizing new recreational centres in several boroughs. The party also says it would try to make the city's east end a "green Silicon Valley" by encouraging green start-ups and ecologically minded businesses. 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. It would also invest in benches and public restrooms in places with high homeless populations.

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. It would also create an economic plan specifically for Montreal's nightlife scene.

Interesting tidbits

  • Projet Montréal would institute a free "baby box" program for Montreal newborns. It would also build a network of refillable water bottle stations in the city and create a park specifically for mountain biking.

  • 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. It would also create a "formal plan" for a professional basketball franchise in Montreal.

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