Montreal's suburban drivers will pay more for car registration to boost transit funding

Suburban motorists will have to pay $50 more a year to register their vehicles, bringing in an estimated $100 million a year to support bus, train and Metro services.

New measures approved by CMM with only one dissenting vote

Drivers motor into Montreal every day by the thousands, but only city-dwellers have paid $50 extra for their registration. Under a proposed policy change, suburbanites will too. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Suburban motorists will have to pay $50 more a year for their car's registration as officials look for new ways to fund public transit.

Montrealers already pay the extra fee, but the Montreal Metropolitan Community (CMM) approved a measure Thursday that will require drivers in the surrounding suburbs to pay it as well.

This new price hike will generate an estimated $100 million a year to support bus, train and Metro services.

"We are talking about $1 a week," said Laval Mayor Marc Demers before the CMM approved the increase.

"We are talking about a tax that aims to alleviate traffic congestion, improve public transit and, of course, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the quality of air."

Only Boucherville Mayor Jean Martel voted against the fee increase, which will come into effect in 2021.

"People want an improvement in public transit and we must find a way to finance this," said Demers.

Most municipal financing comes from property taxes, but authorities must diversify funding sources, he said.

While most officials might think it's a good idea, not everybody on the South Shore agrees.

Mary Ward said she already pays higher fares for public transportation as a resident of Longueuil and costs are so high, young people can't even afford to use the service.

"I think it's awful," said Ward of the proposed fee. "I'm totally against it. I don't think it should be done at all." 

Plante backs plan to tax suburban drivers

On Wednesday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante defended the level of investment the city is making in public and active transportation.

"At the CMM, we are 82 municipalities and each has different realities," she said.

While issues between those municipalities differ, the fact remains that the "CMM must make firm commitments and position itself" when it comes to funding public transit.

At the same time, she said both the provincial and federal governments must loosen the purse strings and "invest heavily" in public transit.

Her administration wants "clear commitments" from the higher levels of government.

Chantal Rouleau, junior transport minister and minister for Montreal, has said she is not in favour of additional taxation on suburban motorists to better fund public transit systems.

Legally, however, the Coalition Avenir Québec does not have the power to prevent the CMM from imposing an increase.

Based on a report by Radio-Canada's Hugo Prévost