Montreal, February 4, 2004 Reacting to the words of Claude Dauphin, president of the Société de transport de Montréal, who is asking the Quebec government for the power to tax parking to make up the $20.4 million deficit facing the Société, and to the possible reaction of the Quebec government, seven business associations have formed a broad coalition against any new tax on parking.
The Urban Development Institute of Quebec (UDI-Quebec), the Conseil québécois du commerce de detail (CQCD), BOMA Quebec, the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC), the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal (BTMM), the Association de l'industrie du stationnement de Montréal (AISM), and the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ) oppose a categorical NO to any proposal by the Quebec government to allow cities with 100,000 inhabitants or more to tax parking.
For the Coalition, any new parking tax considered by Yves Séguin, Quebec's Finance Minister, would be added to a multitude of taxes already levied on parking spaces. These taxes already account for 60 percent of the total cost of outdoor parking in downtown Montreal. In addition, this new tax would increase the tax burden on Quebecers, who already pay the highest taxes in Canada, declared Pierre Cléroux, president of UDI-Quebec.
Quebecers are already taxed too heavily, and a tax on parking would add a new burden on owners, tenants, and drivers and could thus hamper the vitality of downtown cores and of retail businesses in general, agreed Gaston Lafleur, president of the Conseil québécois du commerce de détail.
Finally, according to Jean-Pierre Marion, president of BOMA Quebec, building owners are already required by municipalities to provide a certain number of parking spaces in their buildings. It is therefore unjust that in addition to imposing such a constraint, they tax them as well.
The coalition is thus firmly opposed to the imposition of a tax on paid or unpaid parking in either the downtown cores or suburbs of large Quebec cities.
Finance public transit another way
If the purpose of this tax is to finance public transit, the Coalition would like to remind the Quebec government that it has been its lack of support over the past ten years that is largely responsible for the financial problems now plaguing public transit.
The government must therefore review its priorities and reinvest in public transit. It must also take an in-depth look at the efficiency of current public transit services and encourage partnerships with the private sector, as some large U.S. cities have done, to gradually make public transit services more competitive as a solution to their financing needs.
Governments have too often and for too long relied on higher taxes to resolve their problems. Today, the very heavy tax burden borne by Quebec taxpayers should convince them to find other solutions, said Cléroux.
According to the coalition members, it is hard to understand why the Liberal government, which vigorously opposed the implementation of a parking tax in December 2002, when it formed the official opposition, is now singing its praises.
The coalition against the parking tax plans to organize various activities to highlight its opposition to any plans for a new parking tax. A brief has already been presented to the Finance Minister as part of his pre-budget consultations, and meetings have been requested with various ministers responsible for this matter. Finally, the members of the seven organizations will also be urged to express their opposition to the plan.
Tel.: (514) 866-3625, ext. 24
Cell.: (514) 774-8438