The Formula E race that might have cost former Montreal mayor Denis Coderre his job is now costing taxpayers in demerged municipalities a pretty penny.
West Island and other suburban cities have to pay more than $500,000 for races that never happened as the city of Montreal settled a lawsuit by the promoter out of court.
Each town and city has different quotas to contribute. Beaconsfield’s part is close to $30,000.
“I get so upset — so, so upset about this whole thing,” said Beaconsfield mayor Georges Bourelle. “I have a duty to protect the best interest of my own residents. That’s my duty, my responsibility and right now I’m being frustrated because I can’t do that.”
Bourelle said he didn’t even want the race to happen in the first place but says his opposition and those of other demerged city mayor’s did not count.
For Bourelle, it’s not about the money, it’s about the principle.
The mayor believes it’s not fair his taxpayers have to pay for a mistake their city didn’t make.
“We had nothing to say and we had nothing to do with this whole decision,” Bourelle said.
The Formula E race was brought to the city by former mayor Denis Coderre in 2017.
It cost $35 million and ended up causing major headaches due to mounting costs and traffic closures.
When Montreal mayor Valérie Plante got elected it that same year, she cancelled the city’s contract for an additional two races with the promoter, Formula E Operations.
Formula E Operations then responded by personally suing the new mayor for $16.1 million.
The out-of-court settlement cost the city nearly $3 million.
Although Montréal is paying the majority of that money, Bourelle and the Association of Suburban mayors believe the situation is a perfect example of how the governance structure between Montreal and demerged cities is not fair and needs to change.
“We need to have some kind of partnership agreement to better protect the minority partner that we are,” said Beny Masella, the president of the association and mayor of Montreal-West.
“You want to talk about us being partners, that’s fine. Otherwise stop playing the charade and call it what we are, we are the cash cows. We are here to discount your bills by 17, 18 per cent every time.”
Masella says the association will continue to push for a more fair governance because as it stands he says, it’s not sustainable.
As for Bourelle, he says the only way things will change is if the province intervenes.
Neither the city of Montreal nor Quebec’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing immediately responded for a request for comment.
— with files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise and The Canadian Press