On Sunday afternoon, West Islanders came out and spoke up.
“I was disappointed because her sign that was right behind her said I will not raise the taxes,” said Pointe-Claire resident Sandy Fuller. “And I think she just decided that once she was in, well I won my position as first woman mayor, and now I’m going to give them the budget.”
The 2018 budget Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante presented has been widely criticized, mainly because of its tax increase.
She had previously vowed to keep tax hikes around the inflation rate, but that isn’t what happened.
For Montrealers, the average overall bill is going up by 3.3 per cent.
“We need to forget when we say the West Island is an affluent community that can afford any increase, that’s not the case,” said Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Jim Beis.
But the hike doesn’t end there.
Increases also affect Montreal Island suburbs.
Demerged municipalities are being asked to contribute, on average, an extra 5.3 per cent for services Montreal shares with them.
The hardest hit are the Town of Mount Royal and Montreal West who will need to pay an extra 9 per cent.
Municipalities like Dorval Island, Westmount and Pointe-Claire will also see hefty increases.
Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is the only city that saw a decrease in its contribution.
“I’m hoping a message was sent to Mme. Plante, who needs to sit with the 15 demerged municipalities, the 14 mayors of those cities, and sit down and really get a realistic check on what we can handle and this just isn’t it,” said the rally’s organizer, Rhonda Massad.
Many West Island mayors attended Sunday’s rally and insist that the tax hike isn’t justified.
“It’s one thing to pay increased taxes, it’s another thing to pay increased taxes and get less services,”said Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa. “In Plante’s budget, she has another $26 million for public transport.
“Does anybody really believe that any of that extra money is going to come to the West Island? I don’t think so.”
A petition for Plante to revisit the budget has already garnered hundreds of signatures in hopes the Montreal mayor listens.
“I’m asking Valérie Plante – answer your phone,” said Kirkland Mayor Michel Gibson. “Last week, we basically called you to have a meeting, not to explain why you’re increasing it, but what are you planning to do to revise this unbelievable increase in tax. Not only to your own residents but to the agglomeration’s expense.