Quebec transfers mass transit taxing to cities

Quebec transfers mass transit taxing to cities

By Robert Frank

Quebec Transport Minister Robert Poëti met with metropolitan mayors in Montreal, at 3 p.m., April 24, to tell them that Quebec intends to transfer tax authority for mass transit from the province to the region’s cities.

Laval executive committee vice-chairman David de Cotis told The Suburban that news reports that the city’s public transit authority Société de transport de Laval (STL) will be absorbed into the soon-to-be-created regional transit authority Réseau de transport métropolitain (RTM) were inaccurate.

“STL, Société de transport de Montréal and Réseau de transport de Longueuil are not being absorbed. A new transit agency is to be created under the ambit of the Conseil des municipalités métropolitain,” he clarified in an interview. “That leaves more than ‘a certain autonomy.’”

“Currently, when we have major projects to undertake, we go to the Agence métropolitain de transport (AMT) or Transport Quebec to finance these projects,” de Cotis noted, “but in the future, we’ll have to go to this new transit authority. They will be the one who will be responsible for prioritizing the various transit projects, but we will retain 100 per cent of our autonomy in terms of how many buses operate on Laval territory.”

Another new transit authority, the Agence regional de transport (ART), will be formed to take over responsibility for long-term mass-transit planning and funding.

The AMT, now redundant, would be dissolved—fulfilling a promise Poëti made earlier this year to achieve an objective that Premier Philippe Couillard enunciated in his inaugural speech, soon after Quebecers elected him a year ago.

“Right now the provincial government is financing AMT,” de Cotis explained. “What they’re proposing is that the new agency would be financed by [municipal] tax dollars. We will retain full authority for how we spend on buses and operations on Laval territory. It simply means that [ART] will be responsible for major projects in the Greater Montreal region and that in future we’ll have to take our proposals to them.”

The changes will reportedly help commuters by streamlining transfers between one transit service and another in the region’s three largest cities, as well as unify them with smaller transit services on the north shore.

The aim is reportedly to separate long-term planning from day-to day operations. The new transit authority would be governed by a board composed of six of the region’s elected officials as well as six provincial government appointees.
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