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In early May, I had the privilege of representing Town of Mount Royal at the annual convention of the Union of Quebec Municipalities. It was in the presence of several hundred municipal elected officials from across Quebec that the municipal representatives adopted a white paper, a veritable plea for a review of the functions and role of Quebec’s elected officials.

Quebec society is undergoing a transformation, and the municipal world provides a perfect example of how. The role of the elected official is no longer limited merely to collecting taxes in order to ensure that streets are cleared of snow, garbage is picked up and sewers are repaired. In the last few decades, Quebec municipalities have been handed many additional mandates, often without also obtaining the sources of funding necessary to carry them out. Culture, public transit, the fight against global warming, economic development, tourism, education: all there are examples that illustrate the remarkable change in the vocation of cities and towns and the role of municipal elected officials.

The mayor and municipal councillors are now called on to create a living environment. Council no longer delivers utility services to properties; it now provides all kinds of services to citizens. Elected officials are expected not only to be effective managers but also to be urban planners, environmentalists, economic development experts and, apparently, visionaries.

Adopted unanimously, the white paper is an appeal to the Quebec government to review this role and the relationship between the provincial government and more than 1,000 municipalities.

It is a process in which Town of Mount Royal is proud to take part.

Town of Mount Royal’s Financial Situation

It was great satisfaction that, at the most recent public meeting of Town Council, I announced the release of Town of Mount Royal’s 2011 financial statements. These documents show, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that our Town’s financial situation is excellent.

The financial statements show a budget surplus of more than $5 million, due mainly to additional revenues from real estate transfer taxes and collected interest as well as from compensation received from the provincial government for residual materials disposal and selective collection. In addition, the Town’s operating expenditures were lower than anticipated, most notably in the areas of snow removal, water supply, interest payable on the debt, electricity, refuse and other collections, and external professional services.

The financial statements also show that the Town’s long-term debt corresponds to 0.55% of the standardized property value, the same as last year. As always, this level of indebtedness—one of the lowest among the municipalities in the greater Montreal area—can be described as very prudent, to say the least.

The situation has not always been so rosy. Back in 2006, the picture was very different. At the time, following its demerger, Town of Mount Royal owed $5 million to the city of Montreal and had nothing in the way of financial reserves. Today, besides having paid back the amounts owed to Montreal, we have ended each year with a surplus, which has allowed us to build the Town’s financial reserves to nearly $15 million.

This happy and exemplary financial situation enables us not only to maintain the high quality of municipal services provided to citizens but also to invest in our community’s future, be it in basic infrastructure (roads, sewers, sidewalks, etc.) or in facilities that improve the quality of life of each and every one of us (artificial turf soccer fields and the expansion of the municipal library, for example).

Chronique du centenaire - 3. L’achat des terres (French only - Written for a French newspaper)

En ce début d’année 1911, le projet d’un tunnel sous le mont Royal fait son chemin dans l’esprit des dirigeants de la Canadian Northern Railways. Mais outre les défis techniques, il faut aussi acquérir les terrains de l’autre côté de la montagne; l’idée d’y bâtir une ville pour financer les coûts du tunnel se présente vite comme une voie à envisager.

Pour éviter toute spéculation sur les terrains, les dirigeants de la compagnie ferroviaire réalisent qu’il faut agir avec discrétion et, surtout, rapidement. Le sort de la Ville de Mont-Royal se joue donc le matin du 30 avril 1911.

Ainsi, c’est à ce moment que Frederick Shaw et Thomas Stephen Darling, accompagnés de quatre notaires, quittent le centre-ville de Montréal et se dirigent vers le nord, 120 000 $ en poche.

Après leur ascension au sommet du mont Royal, leurs voitures redescendent doucement sur les routes de terre qui rattachent Côte-des-Neiges à Saint-Laurent.  Ferme après ferme, le petit groupe d’acheteurs met la main, d’un seul coup, sur toutes les propriétés visées et ce, sous l’œil ahuri des fermiers. À la fin de la journée, deux douzaines de propriétés sont maintenant sous contrôle de la Canadian Northern Railways. On peut parler, sans exagération, d’un coup de maître.

Dans les semaines qui suivent, l’achat de nouvelles terres se poursuit afin de sécuriser près de 600 hectares de terrain au total dont, notamment, l’espace requis au centre-ville de Montréal pour l’aménagement de la future gare centrale. Encore aujourd’hui, cette série de transactions immobilière est reconnue comme l’une des plus spectaculaires de l’histoire de Montréal, voire du Canada, à l’époque.

À ces 600 hectares s’ajouteront éventuellement les 140 hectares qui compléteront ce qui forme maintenant la Ville de Mont-Royal. Une anomalie, toutefois : les acheteurs ne réussiront jamais à acheter la ferme Goyer. Ce terrain, maintenant devenu le quartier Glenmount, sera donc éventuellement rattaché à la Ville de Montréal.

Philippe Roy

Mayor

90 Roosevelt Avenue

Mont-Royal H3R 1Z5