By Rhonda Massad
Municipal elections held on November 5, were not the last elections to be held this year on the island of Montreal. The Association of Suburban Municipalities (ASM) held their own internal elections to determine who the new President of the 15 demerged municipalities would be. Montreal West Mayor Beny Masella won over Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle in the recent contest.
“Much like any other democratic election, we presented our views and members voted,” Masella explained in an interview with West Island Blog. “There are two Vice Presidents and one Treasurer as well as several committee positions that needed to be filled. None were acclaimed.”
The two elected Vice Presidents are Baie d’Urfé Mayor Maria Tutino and Montreal-Est Mayor Robert Coutu. Westmount Mayor Christina Smith walked away with the position of Treasurer.
“I am happy to see representation from the east and Westmount as well as the West Island,” Masella said. “There is a misconception that demerged cities are only on the West Island. This give a voice to a wider scope of cities.”
Montreal is comprised of 19 boroughs and provides services to the entire island of Montréal, including it’s 15 reconstituted or demerged cities. (List below) The Agglomeration Council is where the decisions are made for the services that the 15 demerged cities share with Montreal.
The ASM represents more than 240,000 residents of demerged cities and an annual contribution of $410 million to Montreal’s shared services. According to Masella, while there are 14 Mayors of demerged municipalities there voting power only represents 14% of the vote leaving the ASM little power to change things that impact their respective cities. Dorval and Dorval Island are represented by Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau.
“The city of Montreal takes care of its own parks, their local water breaks and snow removal much like a demerged city,” Masella said. “When it comes time to discuss drinking water, police and fire services, for example, those are shared. That is what is discussed at the monthly Agglomeration meetings. ASM meets each month on its own before the monthly Agglo meeting. We have our own caucus to discuss our views on the agenda.”
A new government in Montreal is hopeful.
“The new Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante gives me hope that things will change. I think if we can get our point across prior to the Agglomeration meetings we stand a better chance of making changes. We simply do not have the votes to wait until the meetings to make ourselves heard,” he continued.
While Mayor Masella has a more “you get more bees with honey” approach, Kirkland Mayor Michel Gibson who was elected to the Commission sur l’inspecteur général (see list) was recently quoted in the Gazette as saying, “Just for Kirkland, we contribute $30 million every year out of a budget of $60 million. You don’t think we should have say in any of that? It’s highway robbery.”
“It’s like somebody telling you, ‘Here, I’m charging you a million dollars on the Agglo side for fire and police services without knowing or listening to us, or getting our input. It’s a real joke, the Agglo,” Gibson said.
List of Demerged Municipalities are: Baie-D’Urfé, Beaconsfield, Côte Saint-Luc, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Dorval, Hampstead, Kirkland, L’Île-Dorval, Montréal-Est, Montréal West, Mount Royal, Pointe-Claire, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Senneville and Westmount
Watch the complete interview with Montreal West Mayor Beny Masella here