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Municipal elections: A guide to local political platforms

Saturday and Sunday, voters across the island will be going to the polls to vote for their new municipal government. This includes the Mayor of Montreal, the borough level Mayor and various city councillors. 

Occurring every four years, residents of Parc-Extension can vote for politicians that will represent them both on a borough and municipal level, deciding and voting on initiatives from parking to bike lanes, from taxes to social housing. 

With over 1.1 million eligible voters across the island of Montreal, the average turnout at municipal elections rarely goes above 50 percent. In the 2017 election, electoral turnout came in at only 42.5 percent, with Parc-Extension coming out even lower at 40.4 percent.

Platform breakdown

Many attribute this lack of interest in municipal politics to a general misunderstanding of what municipal governments do and how they shape our city. This article will break down some of the most important ideas being brought forth by borough-level candidates. 

The election in Parc-Extension will be decided between four parties. Incumbent Borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli will be running for her newly formed party Quartiers Montréal, alongside Leonora Indira King for city councillor. For ensemble Montréal, Guillaume Lavoie is running with incumbent City Councillor Mary Deros. 

For Projet Montréal, Laurence Lavigne Lalonde will be on the ballot with her colleague Genviève Morency running for City Councillor. Lastly, Julien Kakpovi is running with Mouvement Montréal alongside Mohammad Yousuf. 

From top left clockwise: Incumbent Borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli with Quartiers Montréal, Guillaume Lavoie with Ensemble Montréal, Julien Kakpovi is running with Mouvement Montréal and Laurence Lavigne Lalonde with Projet Montréal. Photo: Compiled by Matias Brunet-Kirk.

Housing 

In their local platform, Projet Montréal promises to continue funding social housing in the borough, assuring they will see both the Plaza Hutchison and the Hôpital Chinois projects to completion. They also promise to change licensing and zoning regulations to “counter real estate flips and renovations.” 

Local party Quartier Montréal wants to work similarly at protecting rental properties by using zoning bylaws and fostering the “development of social and community housing initiated by the community.” The platform also outlines the development of strategies to address the loss of density due to demographic changes. “To strictly apply regulation respecting the salubrity, maintenance, and safety of housing,” the platform also read.

Ensemble Montréal wants to “encourage the presence of families in VSP by authorizing the transformation of duplexes into single-family/multigenerational homes.” They also include the construction of social housing projects in their program but also stipulate they would shorten the deadlines when granting building permits and promote soft density by increasing the number of floors.

While Mouvement Montréal does not have a borough-specific platform for VSP, more generally they want to grow social housing by 24,000 units across the city and to install an obligatory rent registry to stabilize prices. This would also include a gradual budget increase for housing from 2% now to 11.9% in 2025.

Transport

Mouvement Montréal said they want to make public transportation free for people 25 years and younger and for seniors 65 and older by 2025. The party also wants to extend adapted transport to midnight and ensure all stations and busses are universally accessible by 2028. 

On transport, Ensemble Montréal wants to extend the bike path on Querbes to the future crossing at de l’Épée, while increasing the number of bike lanes and bike racks throughout the borough. They also want to bring down the speed limit to 40km/h on de l’Acadie while completely overhauling the street and also explore the possibility of allowing parking on private lots outside business hours.

Quartiers Montréal also wants to extend the Querbes bike lane, as well as improve the supply of public and shared transport. The party also stipulated they wanted to secure dangerous intersections and alleyways and implement eco-tax and social pricing measures for transportation. They would also reform parking supply to ensure those who need spots can get them.

Projet Montréal stated they want to complete both the Ogilvy and de l’Épée railroad crossings, as well as completing the bike path network in the borough. If elected, they also promise to revisit the traffic mitigation plan, particularly around Highway 40.

Environment

On environment, Quartiers Montréal wants to “increase the greening and demineralization of streets and the public domain to decrease heat islands,” adding that they would increase the number of trees and parc ratios for new construction. The platform also includes a position on growing urban self-sufficiency by promoting collective gardens and urban agriculture. 

Projet Montréal also wishes to make the area more green by developing a greening plan and increasing the area of ​​urban agriculture in the borough by at least 10%. They also wish green more laneways and make it easier for citizens to do it themselves.

Mouvement Montréal hopes to tackle environmental issues by aligning city carbon neutrality targets with provincial and federal objectives. Local candidate Mohammad Yousuf also said his party would create more green space and return garbage and recycling pick up to two days a week.

Ensemble Montréal has also promised to green the borough while also encouraging urban agriculture and green lanes. The team also wishes to make Parc-Extension cleaner by providing more garbage and compost bins as well as forming a cleanliness squad.

Business and commerce

On the economic relaunch, Ensemble Montréal states it wants to bet on entrepreneurial spirit focused on innovation. The party says it would cut red tape and simplify processes for local business owners, for example allowing installations on the street as long as they respect “elementary rules of harmonious cohabitation.” They would also encourage festivals and events to take place in the borough.

Projet Montréal wishes to work similarly at the borough level by working in collaboration with business owners across the area to establish business associations in specific areas, much like the new SDC du Petit Maghreb. They also wish to study the possibility of starting a commercial fair on Saint-Roch during the summer.

Quartiers Montréal wants to create a commercial innovation fund for small and medium-sized businesses in gentrifying areas, as mentioned in their “complete living environments” section of their platform. This would “help them adapt to changing demographics and help them stay in their neighbourhoods.”

For Mouvement Montréal, their central platform stipulates they wish to name Montreal a city-state in order to retain more money in the area. They would also reduce the time it takes for small businesses to receive licenses and further work with the provincial government to create special economic conditions for small, low-income businesses.

Election Nov. 7

It is important to note this list is by no means an exhaustive list of party positions. The different political parties have a wide range of proposed policies that were not included in this article due to space constraints. Platforms are publicly available on each party’s website.

The election will be held on Nov. 6 and Nov. 7 at a number of polling stations across the borough. More information is available at https://elections.montreal.ca/en/