Newly-elected mayor Boyer meets Municipal Affairs Minister Laforest a first time
Having recently announced his decision to take a salary cut along with four other Quebec mayors, newly-elected Laval mayor Stéphane Boyer is asking Quebec to pass a law setting the salaries paid to all elected municipal officials, rather than allowing them to decide what they are paid on their own.
A level playing field
A low-key meeting took place last week at Laval’s interim city hall on Saint Martin Blvd. between Mayor Boyer and Quebec Housing and Municipal Affairs Minister Andrée Laforest, ostensibly to allow them to “touch base” for the first time since the Nov. 7 municipal elections.
In the meantime, an illustrated booklet published by the city, concurrent with Laforest’s visit, outlined several dossiers the Boyer administration hoped to emphasize – including the remuneration of municipal elected officials.
Boyer announced during the election campaign and shortly after taking office that he would join three other Quebec mayors who agreed to reduce their salaries. According to the booklet, Laval is now asking Laforest’s ministry to standardize the salaries of all elected members of city councils across the province.
Quebec would set salaries
As things are now, the responsibility for determining the remuneration paid to mayors and city councillors belongs to the elected officials themselves in each municipality. The new Boyer administration wants the municipal affairs ministry to do what is necessary to level the playing field in all municipalities across the province, rather than allowing the process to take place on a piecemeal basis.
The booklet refers to the manner by which salaries are set now as “leading to sometimes significant salary inequalities between the elected officials in the various cities of the province. A revision is overdue to remedy the situation.
“It must be led by the government of Quebec for the municipalities altogether and according to clear markers that would allow the establishment of a more equitable method that takes into account the size of each city and the responsibilities assumed by the elected officials.”
Local housing problems
A second dossier Mayor Boyer brought up with Laforest concerns the housing element of her ministry. Mayor Boyer drew attention to the significant rent increases and house purchase price hikes that have hit Quebecers over the past year. He suggests the provincial housing ministry can play a positive role by finding the means to control construction costs so that they are not passed along to the public.
Thus, the cities of Laval and Longueuil are both asking the provincial housing ministry to hold a province-wide summit dealing just with the housing issue, and which would bring together several provincial ministries, the private sector, municipal officials and the population.
Boyer’s meeting with Minister Laforest took place a day before the city announced a $400,000 subsidy to boost food security in Laval, with assistance provided from Laforest’s ministry and a private foundation.
Food security subsidy
According to a press release issued by the city on Dec. 1, Laval is giving the subsidy to a community-based collective group which has been offering a vegetable distribution service in Laval for several years, using produce grown on farms located on Laval’s territory.
The six-figure subsidy made to the group, which is working in conjunction with a local meals-on-wheels organization, includes funding not only from the city and the province, but also from the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon, and will help set up a door-to-door delivery service.
As stated in the priorities booklet, the new Boyer administration also wants to focus on the creation of a comprehensive nature sanctuary on the north shore of Île Jésus that would stretch along a vast area of the Rivière des Mille Îles.
Future nature sanctuary
Although some parts of the plan are already in place (the largest being the Parc de la Rivière des Mille Îles, for example), they are disconnected and the city wants to tie them together with a comprehensive strategy.
And while the Parc de la Rivière des Mille Îles currently consists of 26 hectares of territory, the Boyer administration wants to eventually expand that to up to 500 hectares, which would have a protected status as a nature sanctuary accorded by the province. Among other things, the city’s purchase of Île aux Vaches and Île Saint Pierre with financial help from Quebec will add 160 hectares to the goal. If Laval were to get some neighbouring municipalities to agree to provide additional territory, the park would become Quebec’s largest nature sanctuary in an urban environment.