Montreal’s 2023 budget in brief: taxes, money for housing, police increase
Municipal taxes are rising in the city, but Montreal has kept its promise to keep the rise below the rate of inflation, saying it shouldn’t rely solely on taxes to make money.
The city presented its 2023 budget on Tuesday morning. It is expected to spend about $300 million more than last year, for a total of about $6.76 billion.
Dominique Ollivier, president of Montreal’s executive committee, said the city has had to make more commitments as residents grapple with a higher cost of living, but acknowledged that continued tax increases cannot not be the solution.
“The city is still very, very heavily dependent on property taxes, which I remind you are two-thirds of our income,” Ollivier said. “As we move forward, the responsibilities of the city increase…and the revenue clearly does not follow.”
Residential taxes across the city will rise an average of 4.1%, which is below the rate of inflation, currently estimated at 6.9%, but still the highest since 2011.
« It was important for us to cushion the blow, when we know that the population is feeling the pressure, » said the mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante.
The city said it would hold a summit in 2023 to look at other sources of funding, but Ollivier said there are some expenses the city shouldn’t have to bear alone.
“The Government of Quebec must do its part. He needs to pay his bills and increase his transfers to the City of Montreal,” Ollivier said.
Plante said the budget focuses on four main issues: housing, public safety, mobility and the environment. Here’s what you need to know.
Which taxes are going up?
Basically everyone, but some boroughs will be hit harder than others.
Residents of L’île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève will pay the most, with a 6% increase for residential households.
Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (5.7%), Côte-Des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-De-Grâce (5.4%) and Pierrefonds-Roxboro (5.4%).
Residents of downtown Ville-Marie were mostly spared, with a small increase of 1.7%. Residents of Montreal North and Saint-Léonard also saw only small increases, of 3.2% and 3.3% respectively.
What does this mean in dollars? On average across the city, that would be an increase of about $164 — but the exact amount depends on whether your home is a single-family home or a condo, and which borough it’s in.
For example, since the average value of a single-family home in Outremont is so high, these owners will see an average increase of $542 — compared to a condo in Montreal North, where the average increase is about $26.
However, Montrealers will be able to play with some of this money. The participatory budget — where citizens can submit and vote for city-funded projects — will be expanded from $10 million in previous years to $45 million in 2023.
Going forward, $60 million will be set aside each year for the initiative.
Let’s talk housing
For the next 10 years, the city has allocated $120 million to purchase buildings for social housing, and an additional $480 million for affordable housing. Of these funds, approximately $20 million are expected to be used over the next three years.
The city said it was monitoring 40 occupied apartment buildings and 106 rooming houses it was prepared to purchase under its right of first refusal.
Plante said the city is focusing on affordable housing because social housing is the jurisdiction of the Quebec government, so the province should fund social housing projects.
This is something Montreal wants to change. He said he will try to renegotiate the terms of his housing agreement with the Quebec government next year.
« The private sector has a role to play, the levels of government have a role to play, » insisted Plante. « It can’t be on the shoulders of the city of Montreal alone…it’s impossible. »
There is also $6 million on the table for non-profit housing organizations. This year, an additional $4.9 million will go to homelessness programs.
In addition to these investments, the city announced that it would launch its landlord certification and rental registry programs in 2023.
The police budget increases dramatically, again
Public security represents the largest share of the budget: 18.4%. Much of that goes to the Montreal police, whose budget has grown even further.
The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) will receive approximately $787 million next year, an increase of $63 million over last year. Some of that money is for hiring: the city has budgeted enough to hire 123 new police officers next year.
As for the body cameras, the city has earmarked about $16.5 million for the project, but there is no date for when they will be used.
City officials say they are waiting for Quebec’s Ministry of Public Security to submit its final report on the matter, which is expected in the coming weeks.
Once that’s done, the city says it can move forward with the program, alongside the province and other police forces. Officials say they aim to have body cameras on Montreal police officers in 2023 or 2024.
In terms of other investments, the city said it would nearly double funding for EMMIS (the mobile social intervention mediation team), a program that sends social workers to respond to 911 calls. The program will receive $10 million next year, up from $5.6 million in 2022.
Public transit: major investments in cycling infrastructure
Montréal will invest approximately $500 million over the next 10 years in cycling infrastructure, including approximately $300 million to expand the network of bicycle paths and the Express bike network (ROUND). Another $100 million is allocated to the maintenance of what is built.
As for Bixi, about 15 million dollars are budgeted over 10 years to add more than 30 stations and a hundred electric bicycles to its current offer.
The city also plans to build 2,000 additional electric car charging stations by 2025.
In terms of public transit, the STM unveiled its $1.7 billion budget Monday. The city said today that more than $68 million is earmarked for the Blue Line subway extension.
Other green initiatives
The city said it hopes to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by overhauling a specific facility in Montreal.
It is devoting $682 million over 10 years to replacing the incinerators at the Jean-R.-Marcotte wastewater treatment plant in Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles.
Incinerators are responsible for more than 30% of greenhouse gas emissions from municipal buildings, Plante said.
There will also be $461 million, also over 10 years, to improve wastewater treatment. The plant treats nearly half of Quebec’s wastewater before discharging it into the St. Lawrence River.
Other environmental initiatives include taxation of owners of parking lots larger than 20,000 square meters. The city expects to raise $5 million from this initiative, with that money earmarked for public transit.
The hope is also to encourage homeowners to use the space for something greener, officials said.
Companies will also be encouraged to reduce their water consumption. Homeowners will start being taxed in 2023 with the first bill at the end of the year.
Officials say only half of the city’s businesses, those that use the most water, are expected to be affected. The move is expected to net $15 million annually going forward.
Taxes on commercial buildings in the city will also increase by 2.9%.