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More police officers, more money for homeless in 2022 Montreal budget

Click to play video: 'The city of Montreal unveils the plans for its 2022 budget'
The city of Montreal unveils the plans for its 2022 budget
WATCH: The City of Montreal has presented its 2022 budget. The city plans to spend 6.4 billion dollars in 2022. A 1.3-per cent increase from 2021 and an average residential tax increase of 2 per cent is on the way, which was promised by the Mayor of Montreal during the municipal elections. Dan Spector reports. – Dec 22, 2021

Somewhere amidst all the talk about Omicron, the City of Montreal has presented its 2022 budget.

It sees the mayor keep some election promises, while raising frustration in the island’s demerged cities.

“I feel like in this budget, we are acting responsibly,” said Mayor Valerie Plante as she presented the budget at a press conference on Zoom.

It’s her first budget since getting re-elected in November, and her first with Dominique Ollivier by her side as new Executive Committee President.

“It’s coherent and it’s very connected to what the citizens have expressed,” Ollivier said of the budget.

The city plans to spend $6.46 million in 2022, a 1.3 per cent increase from 2021.

An average residential tax increase of two percent is on the way, something Plante had promised.

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“We are limiting the increase of tax for non-residential to 1.5, and also, we’ve have increased their tax break,” she explained.

Plante said she is most proud of the way her budget addresses Montreal’s recent increase in gun crime.

“We’ve been all been affected by the rise of violence that includes guns in the last months,” she said.

Public security accounts for 17.7 per cent of spending, more than anything else.

The city has increased the police department’s budget by $45 million, bringing it to a total of $724 million. 103 new police officers will be hired.

Body cameras will start rolling out gradually in 2022 with $500,000 worth of tests and pilot projects. A wider rollout is expected in 2023.

“We want to work with everybody and it starts with the SPVM and community groups,” she said. Community groups will also be getting new money with the goal of preventing violence.

There will be $111 million to create 12,000 new social and affordable housing units. The city has doubled the amount it will spend to address homelessness to $5.9 million.

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Ensemble Montreal, the opposition party at city hall, found plenty to criticize, with the amount of debt and reserve spending among their top complaints.

“It’s almost like the administration is giving us a lump of coal in our Christmas stocking,” said Alan De Sousa, Ensemble Montreal Finance Critic. “There’s over $112 million of past reserves used to balance this budget.”

Demerged cities are having trouble stomaching the amount they’ll now need to pay for access to city services.

“We have an average increase of 10.9 per cent, and that’s frustrating as hell,” said Beny Masella, Association of Suburban Municipalities president.

Masella feels the city could have lowered the burden by spending less on staff.

“I don’t see any efforts made by the city of Montreal to try to curb some of that spending,” he said.

The city said in the context of COVID expenses, the increase is reasonable.

 

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