For immediate release
Transfer of federal gas tax revenues:
A new source of revenue to invest in Montreal's growth
Montreal, June 21, 2005 On behalf of its members, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal welcomes the agreement reached by the governments of Canada and Quebec on the transfer of part of the federal gas tax revenues to the municipalities. The Board of Trade is pleased to see that the Canadian government is thus respecting its commitment to provide real financial assistance to the country's cities.
For several years now, the Board of Trade has campaigned for practical solutions to the overdependence of cities on property taxes and for new, increased, predictable, recurring revenue sources for them. Remember that in 2005, 74% of Montreal's total revenues will come from property taxes, limiting the city's ability to invest in its economic growth, particularly by upgrading infrastructures. In short, at a time when the responsibilities of cities are growing faster than their financial resources, today's announcement is clearly a step in the right direction, declared Isabelle Hudon, president and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.
With the assurances given today that new funds will be placed at the disposal of Quebec's cities, the Board of Trade now expects the Quebec government to recognize the key role of public transit as an infrastructure for sustainable urban development and that a portion of the transferred funds be allocated on the basis of its use.
For the Board of Trade, it was imperative that the funding of cities be a reflection of the vitality and economic growth generated by urban centres. By giving municipalities 25% for public transit, the Charest government acknowledges the specific financing needs of major cities. In fact the challenges facing a major urban centre such as Montreal in terms of sustainable urban development and infrastructures arise from a profoundly different dynamic than that of smaller centres. Almost 50% of Quebec's population lives in metropolitan Montreal, and while that concentration enables the region to produce 50% of the province's GDP, it also has consequences on a scale seen nowhere else in Quebec, continued Hudon.
For the Board of Trade, this transfer of funds will contribute to the creation of wealth for all Quebecers. From this point of view, we believe investing in infrastructures increasing the competitiveness of Montreal the economic engine of Quebec is in the best interests of all, especially since the strong economic performance of the metropolis contributes to the prosperity of Quebec and directly increases the ability of the provincial government to redistribute wealth. It is thus high time our metropolis became a priority intervention target for all Quebecers, concluded Hudon.
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has some 7,000 members. Its primary mission is to represent the interests of the business community of Greater Montreal and to provide individuals, merchants and businesses of all sizes with a variety of specialized services to help them achieve their full potential in terms of innovation, productivity and competitiveness. The Board of Trade is Quebec's leading private economic development organization.
Coordinator, Media relations
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel.: (514) 871-4000, ext. 4015