Mr Pierre Laferrière, president, Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Montreal, April 28, 2000 "The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal strongly supports the principles on which the white paper tabled by Louise Harel, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Greater Montreal, is based. We also commend the minister's commitment to action and the fact that the entire Quebec government now seems prepared to take action in the metropolitan area," declared Pierre Laferrière, president of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, today.
In particular, we support the following objectives:
- control urban sprawl
- strengthen Greater Montreal's central city
- create a metropolitan consensus-building and action body
- concentrate real powers at the metropolitan level in the areas of land-use planning, transport management, economic development, and distribution of part of the tax pie
- promote municipal mergers through incentives
"In addition, the Board of Trade is pleased to note that the mandates for economic promotion and management of public transit have been entrusted to existing bodies that are already doing valuable work in these areas: Montréal International and the Metropolitan Transit Agency.
"The Board of Trade also supports measures to promote the merger of municipalities in Quebec, and in the Greater Montreal area in particular. We note that, aside from Ontario, there is no trend toward municipal mergers in North America," continued Laferrière. "In the United States, in fact, there is a steady increase in the number of municipalities. Yet the average population of a U.S. municipality is approximately 8,700 compared to 5,100 in Quebec. We therefore believe it is desirable to promote municipal mergers, without going so far as to force the issue. The Board of Trade has always favoured mergers on a voluntary basis, based on incentives.
"Our only reservation," concluded Laferrière, "is that the new body will not replace existing structures such as the five administrative regions that fragment the metropolitan area, RCMs, and other bodies. But we must acknowledge that it is extremely difficult to take even the first step toward metropolitan consensus building, as the experience of the past ten years has shown us.
"Ms. Harel's white paper is a very promising first step in the right direction, and we support it fully."
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has more than 7 000 members. Its mission is to be the leading group representing the interests of the Greater Montreal business community. The objectives are to maintain, at all times, relevance to its membership, credibility towards the public and influence towards government and decision-makers.