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Montreal eyeing new tax on personal vehicles

Under bill 22. Private swimming pools could also provide sources of revenue



Published: 7 hours ago


City of Montreal residents probably will have to pay a new municipal tax on personal vehicles of about $75 annually under new tax powers the Charest government wants to give to the city.


Senior government officials who spoke to journalists this week said a new "PVT" is the most likely new municipal revenue source to arise from the menu of options that Bill 22 would give Montreal.


Bill 22 is the draft legislation tabled last fall to give Montreal new tax powers and make governance changes in the Montreal agglomeration.

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Amendments unveiled Thursday at city hall scrapped the idea of a new food and beverage tax or a return of the old Montreal amusement tax. But the amendments are now calling for open-ended, royalty-type levies in their place.


Although Mayor Gérald Tremblay has refused to be specific about the new taxes he has in mind, bureaucrats did bring up the possibility of a new tax on backyard swimming pools.


And Tremblay conceded that many of the new taxes he is considering are inspired by some of the new taxing powers the city of Toronto won from the Ontario government in 2006.


Royalties are traditionally applied to the use of a natural resource, like oil or water, but Toronto has taken the idea one step further and is considering a new tax on billboards, for the use of public space.


The Bill 22 amendments are said to have sufficient opposition-party support to be approved before the legislature recesses next Friday.


If that happens, Montreal will get the power to tax movables and immovables, but sales and inheritance taxes won't be allowed. Neither will taxes on gasoline, income, payrolls or energy.


The new tax powers would be given only to the city of Mont- real, not to the 15 demerged island suburbs.


Any new personal vehicle tax in Montreal would apply only to residents of city of Montreal boroughs.


The most notable difference between Bill 22 and the city of Toronto Act is that Bill 22 stops short of allowing Montreal to tax alcohol and tobacco.


"We're going to take time to look at our options," said Renée Sauriol, an aide to Tremblay.


No new taxes would be introduced before 2010, Sauriol said.


djohnston@ thegazette.canwest.com


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New municipal taxes


Mayor Gérald Tremblay says the new tax powers that the provincial government is proposing to give Montreal are inspired by the new powers accorded in 2006 by the Ontario government to Toronto. Some highlights:


In September, residents of the city of Toronto will begin paying a $60 annual municipal personal-vehicle tax. Only one car per household will be subject to the tax.


A $75 tax for Montreal residents was mentioned this week by senior provincial and municipal bureaucrats as a possibility.


Toronto hasn't yet determined what kind of new parking-lot tax it wants to introduce. The Tremblay administration is said to be leaning toward a new property surtax tied to the number of parking spots on a property.


In February, Toronto approved new tax brackets for land-transfer taxes. The new regime has resulted in higher "welcome taxes" on properties worth $400,000 or more. The Quebec government has said it is prepared to let Montreal set its own new welcome-tax rates on properties worth more than $500,000. Below this value, provincially set rates would continue to apply.


Toronto is still considering a new tax on billboards, justified as a royalty on the use of public space. This idea of expanding the notion of royalties to the municipal level is something that Montreal finds intriguing. Quebec is proposing to give Montreal a lot of leeway to come up with inventive new royalty schemes.


In February, Toronto Mayor David Miller proposed a new toll on all provincial highways within the Greater Toronto area. The proposal hasn't been received well by suburbanites and nothing has happened yet. In Montreal, the Tremblay administration has similarly begun to regionalize its own original proposal for new island bridge tolls. Tremblay is now saying he wants to share any new toll revenues with off-island suburbs to help expand public transit.



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In February, Toronto Mayor David Miller proposed a new toll on all provincial highways within the Greater Toronto area. The proposal hasn't been received well by suburbanites and nothing has happened yet.


Strikes me that both in Montreal and Toronto, it's always the suburbanites that complain about tolls, with the same arguments; "won't be good for the city, we'll stay in the suburbs, blah blah". Seems like a lot of bull to me; if they stay in the suburbs, good for them, the suburbs might then develop its own economy and stop mooching off the city's infrastructures. On the other hand, if the suburbanites get their fat asses out of their cars (ok, maybe I'm using strong language but you gotta admit there's quite a good correlation to weight and car use) and walk/bike/take public transpo, everyone wins.


:relieved: Just had to get this off my chest...

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