The metropolitan business community believes in the success of the new cities Montreal, May 27, 2003 - As the Quebec parliament prepares to reconvene and the framework legislation on the future of the new cities is about to be tabled, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Laval, and the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de la Rive-Sud on behalf of their some 10,000 members urge the Quebec government to establish the conditions necessary for the development and success of the cities of Montreal and Longueuil.
We are living in an age when economic, social, cultural, academic, and scientific activity is increasingly concentrated in major cities and will remain so. In all these sectors of activity, city-regions are establishing direct ties and exchanges among themselves, while at the same time engaging in fierce inter-regional competition to attract and retain talent and investments. The consolidation of cities, particularly within the metropolitan area, is an economic necessity dictated by this competitive international environment and rapidly changing interurban relationships. The new cities represent an essential step toward delivering an irreversible boost to the vitality of Greater Montreal. The prosperity of our companies and our fellow citizens depends on it, declared Benoit Labonté, president of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.
This is why, on behalf of the metropolitan business community, the three Boards of trade have identified three key factors for establishing a solid democratic foundation that will ensure the success of the new cities.
First of all, the three Boards of trade urge the government to allow all residents of the new cities to make a collective decision about the future of the new cities in any future referendum. They are thinking in particular of the citizens of the nine boroughs of the former city of Montreal, whose fate would be decided once and for all by such an exercise.
Secondly, given the nature of such a referendum and its consequences for the development of Greater Montreal, the three Boards of trade recommend that the government set the minimum participation rate at 66.6% of eligible voters. The failure to meet this participation rate would signify approval of the new cities. This condition would ensure the necessary democratic legitimacy of the results of this exercise.
Thirdly, the three Boards of trade believe the framework legislation must be very clear about the fact that, whatever the results of this referendum, an equalization system will have to be established to ensure that wealth is fairly distributed throughout the territory of the new cities.
We are convinced of the absolute need for greater fairness in the funding of city centers and of the infrastructures serving the entire metropolitan area, concluded Raymond Talbot, president of the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Laval.
The metropolitan business community urges the Quebec government to demonstrate its political commitment to supporting the new cities and reiterates its willingness to assist the government in such an undertaking.
It is time for us to start thinking regionally. For the business community, there is no doubt that the success of these new cities is the keystone to the prosperity, sustainable development, and social cohesion of metropolitan Montreal, stressed Denis Marcil, president of the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de la Rive-Sud.
Vice-president, Strategies and communications
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel.: (514) 871-4000, extension 4010