If enthusiasm is a harbinger of Laval’s future, then next week’s municipal budget ought to be a humdinger.
“It’s my first budget,” a buoyant interim mayor Alexandre Duplessis told The Suburban in an interview, “and I can tell you that it will be an excellent budget that we plan to table next Monday.”
“Laval’s economy has thrived in recent years and it will only continue to grow,” he enthused.
“We’ve been blessed by the advent of the metro, which has brought tremendous flexibility in terms of transportation. Coupled with major highways straddling the island, Laval’s accessibility has been instrumental to its economic growth, attracting corporations to set up their head offices here.”
“We plan to continue to encourage a wide range of industries,” Duplessis added. “Our business profile is very, very diversified.”
“When the recession hit three years ago, here in Laval few businesses were affected because of that diversity. Consequently, Laval dodged the bullet in terms of job [losses].”
Duplessis didn’t waste a moment after being sworn is as mayor in making the rounds of Laval’s provincial representatives in Quebec City.
“I was acquainted already with them,” he said, “and obviously during the next few days I will be meeting with [Quebec’s] Minister of Municipal Affairs and, of course, the regional minister for Laval.”
The city has received ample attention of late, in the wake of alleged misdealings.
Duplessis welcomed the appointment of two provincial auditors to scrutinize how the city awards and administers contracts.
“It will make Laval more transparent to its citizens,” he said.
“When they were here a year or so ago, they audited more than 3,800 contracts and found some very minor anomalies which we immediately rectified. If they find more, than we will immediately correct them.”
Duplessis stressed that the dissolution of his predecessor’s political party means that councilors now have more individual responsibility.
“I have introduced more stringent controls,” he added, “[which will be implemented] very rapidly. Right now we’re putting the finishing touches on control measures that will be in place by the start of 2013.”
Duplessis also reiterated his vow to give the city’s auditor general more resources.
“I want her to do more, and that involves allocating more resources and staff to internal auditing.”
Public transit log jam
The new mayor acknowledged that Laval’s metro stations are already operating beyond capacity and that westward expansion is pivotal to the city’s continued growth.
“There is indeed a bit of a problem, particularly at the Montmorency station,” he conceded. “But it’s an Agence metropolistain de transport problem and a Société de transports de Montréal problem.”
“The metro is already full. Even if we added more parking spots, there isn’t any room in the metro tunnels and ramps to accommodate more people.”
“The solution is really to continue to develop the metro, to connect the Côte Vertu line to Chomedey and connect the two lines to relieve the pressure on the eastern end of the orange line.”
“It’s a file that we will be advocating quite vigorously in order to promote [the city’s] development,” Duplessis concluded.
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