Political pork flows as Montrealers pay through the nose

By Tracey Arial

Despite learning last January that Montreal businesses pay higher taxes than anywhere else in Canada, municipal politicians continued to spend with abandon. 

Boroughs gave out thousands of dollars of taxpayer money monthly so that local community groups could party on taxpayer dimes.

In February, for instance, the borough of St. Laurent paid $1,000 for ten people to breakfast at the 28th Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal.

In May, Verdun gave 17 approved community groups $221,700 worth of funding in a single resolution. Some groups may do good work for this money, but the minutes offered no public explanation or project descriptions.

In June, the Côte des Neiges-Notre Dame de Grâce borough gave out $31,500 for festivals in the neighbourhood. Almost a third of that went to the Filipino Association of Montreal and Suburbs for various Pista Sa Nayon festival events. The Council of Canadian Filipino Associations of Quebec got $8,000 for their Philippines Independence Day celebrations and another $3,000 went to the Association de Bocce de St. Raymond for Italian Week.

That same month, the borough of LaSalle spent $35,814.71 with Groupe Kloda Focus Inc. for sound equipment for celebrations on June 24 and July 1.

Presumably, all of these amounts are for worthy causes, but the question is should taxpayers be paying for it at a time when many citizens’s retirements are threatened with the biggest rises in property taxes in North America.

In 2013, Montreal’s commercial tax rate went up to an all-time high of $38.26 per $1,000 of assessment. That rate was higher than all the other major cities in Canada, including Vancouver and Toronto.

Residential tax rates sat at $8.69 per $1,000 of assessment, which beats out Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver. Only Halifax, Ottawa and Winnipeg had higher residential rates last year, and their commercial rates were much lower.

At 4.40, Montreal’s commercial-to-residential ratio beat out every other city in the country, a fact that astounded the Altus Group, which came out with new figures for the Real Property Association in October. Only Vancouver, at 4.35, and Toronto, at 4.07, came close.

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