Montreal's double public transit tax could be expanded

If you live off-island, it looks like the cost to register your vehicle is going up.

The Communauté Métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM), which is comprised of area mayors and councillors, and is headed by Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, is studying a $50 a year surcharge for residents of Montreal area municipalities.

On-island Montrealers have been paying the levy since 2011.

If adopted, the proposed tax would affect residents of 66 municipalities, including Laval, Longueuil, and Terrebonne.

“It’s only a measure of equality because Montrealers have been paying this tax for decades,” said Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand, who has been a long-time proponent of public transit projects.

“Montrealers have been bearing an unfair share of the total cost of servicing commuters into the city,” he said.

The CMM estimates the tax would eventually bring in an additional $100 million to the public purse, annually. That money would go towards future public transit projects.

Mayor Plante says the price jump is coming at the request of off-island municipalities that want to raise money without hiking property taxes.

According to Rotrand, it’s unlikely the Metropolitan council will be able to pass the tax quickly. He says he expects it will take provincial legislation to push through.

“I don’t think the CMM has the unilateral power to do this,” he said.

CAA Quebec has come out in opposition to the idea, saying motorists in the province are already overtaxed.

“Car owners are an easy target,” said spokesperson Annie Gauthier. “They already contribute to the public transportation.”

The organization estimated that Quebec motorists paid $4 billion in driving related taxes last year alone. $1 billion was earmarked for public transit projects.