The Association des SDC de Montréal (ASDCM) sent a questionnaire to candidates for mayor of Montreal at the start of the campaign, grouped by theme with important questions for the 15,500 traders and office occupants. members of the Montreal SDCs during this election period. You will find below the full responses sent to our organization.
A-Financing of SDC and programs
Question: Commit yourself to maintain and quickly confirm, in anticipation of the year 2022, the postponement of the SDC Support programs ($ 4 M) and support for pedestrianization projects, by adding to the latter a component placemaking for arteries that do not or cannot pedestrianize ($ 6M)? Could you ensure the sustainability of said programs for subsequent years in order to provide greater predictability to SDC partners?
Ensemble Montréal – Denis Coderre : At Ensemble Montréal, we know that the pandemic is affecting businesses enormously, there are lost revenues, closures and debt. Inevitably, this affects the SDCs. As long as the pandemic is upon us and activities are not completely resumed, the City will have to play its role to ensure that the SDCs are maintained until the resumption and adjust the budget if new SDCs emerge. We will need the SDCs during the recovery. No one knows what the business will be like when federal COVID-19 subsidies end and loans have to be repaid. CDS will certainly be part of the solution.
The pedestrianization of commercial arteries comes from the administration of Denis Coderre. On the other hand, you have to know how to do it. Ensemble Montréal is ready to financially support commercial arteries that want to be pedestrianized and who have consulted their members in this regard. We must avoid half measures that shatter the consumer experience. There are sad examples in 2020 and 2021 of poorly put together projects. We are also committed to being clear on the support we will give to the SDCs in their pedestrianization projects. Last year we saw boroughs fight against the SDC to impose their vision of pedestrianization.
Priority must be placed, with the SDCs, on the experience of the resident and the consumer. If improving the experience means pedestrianizing the street or if it means developing public spaces or livening up the street, we at Ensemble Montréal believe that the city center must support these initiatives. However, we must also stress the importance of supply and the logistical challenges that this brings for businesses. It must also be one of our priorities in our reflection on street closures.
Mouvement Montréal – Balarama Holness : Yes, Mouvement Montréal will maintain and confirm the postponement of the Support for SDCs and Support for pedestrianization projects programs. Mouvement Montreal understands the importance of TCS for economic growth and business development in Montreal, and is committed to establishing TCS in all boroughs of Montreal.
Projet Montréal – Valérie Plante : In our announcement of October 8, we confirmed our commitment for the entire next mandate, the amount of support of $ 4.5M per year to the TCS for 4 years ($ 18M), including a budget of recurring operation of $ 200,000 to ASDM. They played a crucial role during the pandemic, and we need, more than ever, that they can continue to play their role of revitalizing commercial arteries that greatly contribute to the quality of life of citizens in our neighborhoods.
Support of $ 1M per year for 4 years to Commercial Associations is also planned to also support the smallest commercial streets present throughout Montreal. ($ 4M)
We have also confirmed the continuation of the pedestrianization program over 4 years, and this program could be extended to include projects for arteries that cannot be pedestrianized. This is a commitment of $ 4M per year for 4 years ($ 16M).
Questions : Do you agree to pay the owner the cost of the SDC contribution during a commercial vacancy in the territory of a SDC, as stipulated in the report of the Commission on economic and urban development and housing? on the problem of vacant premises on commercial arteries?
BH : Mouvement Montréal will subsidize, but will not fully cover, the cost of the SDC membership fee when there is a commercial vacancy in the territory of a SDC.
VP : Yes, absolutely and we confirmed this in our response to the Vacant Premises Commission. In our platform, this is planned:
“In collaboration with the Government of Quebec, implement mechanisms so that the owners of vacant premises contribute financially to the commercial development companies.”
(5.2 h platform).
DC : At the time of the commission’s report, we supported this measure because we believe that all owners, including owners of vacant premises, benefit from the work of the TCS, but that the latter are greatly affected by the changes. vacant premises. They are dragging down business vitality, the ability to deliver an engaging customer experience.
SDCs then become very vulnerable to business closures because their funding depends on the number of member businesses. For two years, we have had a good illustration that cyclical elements affect and weaken the SDC. Are we going to transfer the SDC membership fee to the owner of a vacant space? YES.
B- Recognition of SDCs in the outreach and socio-economic development of Montreal
Question : Would you be in favor of implementing a program to transform voluntary associations into SDCs or to expand the territory of a SDC in collaboration with ASDCM?
VP : Twenty-one commercial development companies (SDCs) have been incorporated in the territory of the City of Montreal and around thirty merchant associations have also been formed. We will be able to support certain trade associations that would like to transform into TCS. However, we consider that it is not all the Associations which would have the characteristics and the size to convert into SDC. When the executive committee responded to the Vacant Premises Commission, the Economic Development Department was mandated to pursue strategic reflections with the Association des SDC de Montréal on the evolution of the SDC model, including the mandate, governance and area of intervention. The Montreal SDC Association would obviously be the ideal actor to support associations wishing to transform into SDCs or SDCs wishing to expand their territory.
DC : Each commercial street has its own reality, but we believe in the SDC model, which is why we are in favor of there being more SDC. These are first choice partners for the City since the internal processes of the SDCs are more standardized and leave more traces than other types of organizations.
Certain associations of traders would benefit from transforming themselves into SDCs, I am thinking in particular of rue Hochelaga in Tétreaultville, but democracy must be respected. Every trader knows his business reality and knows what he needs to thrive. The mayor of Montreal should not take the place of the process. We can find a way to accompany the process of setting up and funding the creation of new CDS.
On the expansion of the territory, we could be in favor, but we believe that it is necessary to see more broadly. We must assume that a TCS knows its needs better than anyone else. Still with respect for democracy, we could talk about territory expansion, but also about adding landowners to the membership. We believe that while retaining the legal framework of the CDS model, we could have several models tailored to the needs of traders in a sector.
BH : Yes, Mouvement Montreal understands the importance of TCS for economic growth and business development in Montreal, and is committed to establishing TCS in all boroughs of Montreal. This process will include the conversion of voluntary associations to SDCs.
Question : Are you ready to support the ASDCM to develop the “Commerces Montréal” platform and submit the Métropole’s candidacy for the 2023 congress of the International Downtown Association?
DC :In our plan for trade in Montreal, we have made a commitment to found a Trade Observatory that will collect data and produce analysis allowing TCS to better assess the performance of their actions and the return on their investment. A referral portal for street-based businesses could very well work in collaboration with the Observatory, which has first-hand data.
Our administration has always believed in and supported the coming of international events. The International Downtown Association is a major opportunity to promote Montreal and its commercial vitality, so we will be a partner in submitting Montreal’s candidacy. We believe that Montreal is an international city and that this type of congress helps the development of our urban diplomacy. We must globally increase the number of conventions, international missions, sporting and cultural events that choose Montreal. We also have to realize that it attracts visitors to Montreal and that it is not negligible.
BH : Yes, Mouvement Montréal is ready to support the development of the “Commerces Montréal” platform and to submit the city’s candidacy to host the International Downtown Association conference in 2023. Mouvement Montréal will work specifically to strengthen the international commercial presence of Montreal in connection with major business organizations and economic poles.
VP : We consider the Commerces Montréal project to be a very promising project. We wish to collaborate with ASDCM for its development, particularly with regard to the support component for entrepreneurs to find commercial premises. We believe that the City must become an important partner in this process.
Projet Montréal is also in favor of supporting the city’s bid to hold the 2023 Congress of the International Downtown Association.
C- Support for traders and commercial arteries
Question : Would you like to maintain and improve the PRAM-Commerce programs, PRAM-arteries under construction and the Merchant Accessibility Assistance Program ?
BH : Yes, Mouvement Montréal will maintain and improve the PRAM-Commerce, PRAM-arteries under construction programs and the Merchant Accessibility Assistance Program.
VP : Yes. Merchants will also be able to continue to benefit from these financial support programs, in particular the program to help with accessibility to businesses, the PRAM commerce, the Artery in transformation program (which replaces Artery in construction), and the compensation for establishments affected by major works. An envelope of $ 62 million will be reserved for them (support for SDCs and pedestrianization is not included in this envelope). This was publicly confirmed in our October 8 announcement.
In order to directly help traders, we are also committed to maintaining the Commercial Entrepreneurship Fund created by our administration and available through the PME MTL network. This is a grant program available to traders that did not exist under the previous administration. An amount of $ 1M per year will be allocated to maintain this Fund ($ 4M), which aims to support the establishment and growth of businesses and to support the digital shift.
Finally, Projet Montréal will continue to offer patio permits at a nominal cost next year, in 2022, allowing savings estimated at $ 2 million for restaurants and bars in the boroughs run by Projet Montréal.
DC : We believe in the value of different PRAMs. In 2015, Denis Coderre’s administration relaunched PRAM-Commerce and released an envelope of $ 40 million for all PRAMs. These are programs that have proven their worth and we will continue to do so. For the moment, we must tackle the economic recovery, but certainly the various PRAMs can be part of the strategy and an increase in the envelope is not excluded. For sure, there will be no decrease.
However, we must reform the Financial Assistance Program for establishments affected by major works. This program stems from the Statute of the Metropolis, but it has not been well thought out. It is too complicated to set up. There are accountants who are not able to fill out the documents because there are so many details. There was initially $ 25 million in this program and two years later, there was still $ 22 million even though the program was retroactive to 2016. In the midst of a pandemic, the administration left the money for businesses to sleep. Ensemble Montréal had offered to reimburse the SDC dues in 2020 with some of this money lying dormant, but the administration refused us this request.
Question : Do you plan to continue the City of Montreal’s strategy of reducing the difference in the tax burden between residential and non-residential buildings?
VP : Yes. Projet Montréal is committed to pursuing, as achieved in 3 of the last four years, the strategy of differentiated tax rates for non-residential buildings, thus allowing small commercial owners to continue to obtain tax reductions. The only exception year, 2021, saw a tax freeze for everyone, including non-residential buildings. We have also already announced that we will continue our strategy of differentiated tax rates to help small businesses, in particular by increasing the limit of the first tax bracket reduced from $ 750,000 to $ 900,000.
DC : Yes quite. It is even essential. Under Projet Montréal, the commercial / residential tax ratio became the highest in Canada, despite the implementation of the strategy to reduce the tax gap. It limits our attractiveness for companies to locate in Montreal. We must therefore relaunch this strategy, but it is not enough. We must also increase the first bracket of the differentiated tax rate in the non-residential sector to one million, which has been made possible with the statute of the metropolis.
At Ensemble Montréal, we want to go further and rethink municipal taxation in its entirety. We have already committed to allow the payment of property tax in 12 months without penalty. We are proposing a Strategic Taxation Worksite, which will allow us to discuss and assess ways of using property tax to encourage certain behaviors and discourage others that we believe are harmful. We want to ask Montrealers how to use property taxation from an economic or ecological development perspective. For example, before the next roll, we could create tax sub-categories to lower the property tax for restaurants and hotels for the three years of the roll.
Also, we must be able to collect a portion of the Quebec and federal sales tax. By diversifying the city’s income in this way, we can ensure that we can create a link between the city’s economic performance and the city’s income. It will force us to be better.
BH : Yes, Mouvement Montreal intends to pursue the City of Montreal’s strategy aimed at reducing the difference in the tax burden between residential and non-residential properties. In fact, Mouvement Montréal is committed to reducing, by 2025, the tax rate for industrial and commercial properties to 2.75x the tax rate for residential properties.
Question : Do you agree to adopt clear regulations on the maintenance and posting of buildings and premises whether they are vacant or not? In the event of a vacancy or a renovation, do you agree to develop a window display program deployed by the SDCs
($ 1.5 M annually)?
DC : We clearly need to empower the TCS to dress the windows of vacant premises that undermine the commercial fabric and reduce the experience of residents and consumers. Ensemble Montréal supported this measure during the time of the vacant space commission. There are too many abandoned premises. First, we must be able to identify them and that is why we are planning a register of vacant commercial premises within the creation of the Trade Observatory. This is the first step.
It is desirable to go there with regulations that invite owners to maintain their premises and their shop windows. However, we are concerned not to increase the costs for owners of excessively vacant premises. Our main goal is to make sure we encourage good behavior. It will be necessary to sit down with the ASDCM and the other partners to achieve a good balance
BH : Mouvement Montreal agrees that there should be clear regulations on the maintenance of buildings, whether they are vacant or not. Mouvement Montreal intends to require the maintenance and complete repair of residential and commercial properties in Montreal.
VP : We consider that the maintenance and the general aspect of the built environment on the commercial arteries play a most important role in their vitality and that a lack of maintenance constitutes a nuisance. In addition, the City of Montreal has invested tens of millions of dollars, over the past decades, in various subsidy programs for property owners and merchants, in order to improve the built environment on Montreal’s commercial arteries and thus promote l ‘client experience. We recognize the boroughs’ competence in this area and we wish to issue guidelines and recommendations allowing the boroughs to adopt clear local regulations in this regard.
We are also committed to putting in place a certificate of commercial non-occupancy providing maintenance standards for owners.
We believe that a collaboration between the boroughs, the owners and the SDCs would be positive to facilitate the deployment.
Question : Following your election as mayor of Montreal, would you be ready to create an advisory committee to plan the development and future of Montreal’s commercial arteries? This committee should include multisectoral skills from: the Association of Commercial Development Companies of Montreal, Economic Development Department, Urban Planning and Mobility Department, Culture Department and Design Office?
BH : Yes, Mouvement Montreal is ready to create an advisory committee to plan the development and future of Montreal’s commercial arteries. This advisory committee will be representative of a diverse set of entrepreneurs, owners of small and medium-sized businesses, and experts in the fields of economics, business and the expansion of financial markets.
VP : This is an excellent idea, in order to increase collaboration and maximize the efforts of all stakeholders (the various city departments, boroughs, SDC, etc.).
Developing the vitality of an artery must necessarily take into account issues of town planning, mobility, economic development, greening, culture, etc.
The project led by ASDCM on commercial vitality indicators will also be a very relevant tool for analyzing and identifying the most relevant courses of action according to the reality of each of the commercial arteries.
DC : We believe in consultation and we believe in the importance of the SDC as an interlocutor of the city. Any planning of commercial development, urban transformation, in particular, should be done jointly with the partners that are the SDCs and even at the level of the boroughs. This can take the form of an advisory committee that can meet on a regular basis. This advisory committee could also have the role of evaluating the different performances of the partners. We have to end the work in silos, that’s the bottom line, no matter how you get there.
Question : Do you commit to improving the accessibility of the Metropolis to all types of transport by creating a digital tracking tool identifying the availability of parking for different modes of transport while standardizing and optimizing the management of off-street parking? , both private and public?
VP : We are committed to continuing to improve the Agence de la Mobilité parking application in order to make information on free parking near commercial arteries available online. (platform 4.2 e)
We also want to develop partnerships with owners of private parking lots in order to increase the supply of temporary parking lots during snow removal operations.
(platform 4.9 e)
DC : Parking is an essential component of Montreal transportation; too often motorists drive in circles to find space. For off-street parking, a dynamic staking system can be improved in partnership with the sustainable mobility agency and large institutions. As for on-street parking, we propose to simplify the signage by creating an intuitive and easily understandable standard. In addition, we are committed to setting up a check-out system for parking meters so that the city has adequate data on their real-time use. Without this system in place, it is impossible for the city to collect information on early departure. Once all the data has been collected, we want to move towards this type of application to avoid the search for unnecessary parking that clogs our streets even more.
BH : Rather than investing in monitoring tools, Mouvement Montréal will improve the metropolis’s accessibility to all types of transportation by:
• Removing construction cones which unnecessarily restrict residents’ mobility.
• By reviewing all parking lot signage to facilitate and simplify public parking procedures.
• Reducing the maximum fine for parking tickets to $ 40.
• Coordinate the development of the cycle path with commercial stakeholders
• Provide free parking every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Question : If you are elected, will you quickly facilitate collaboration between the STM, the boroughs and the SDCs during various projects (street closure, pedestrianization, relocation of stops, cultural events, festivals, etc.) and also, do you commit to increasing the supply of public transport on commercial arteries?
DC : In pedestrianization projects or events, the SDCs are often condemned to make the links with the STM themselves, while this is the recourse of the boroughs. As during construction sites, the boroughs and the city-center must quickly contact the STM and merchants to establish a schedule. Since 2018, the STM has been reviewing its bus coverage plan. We hope that this revision will help increase service on commercial arteries. However, the coordination of projects and events would gain a lot from having a proactive administration in its planning. Traders would gain a lot if the jobs were communicated more in advance so that they could plan their supply, among other things. Our administration would set up a communication system between the STM and the needs of commercial arteries so that they can more adequately serve citizens during SDC events.
BH : Yes, Mouvement Montréal will facilitate collaboration between the STM, the boroughs and the SDCs. Likewise, Mouvement Montréal is committed to offering free public transit to people 25 years of age and under, and wishes to extend this offer to all residents by the end of the first term.
VP : Yes, the city and the boroughs must play a facilitating role with the STM during initiatives developed on commercial arteries. These elements could also be facilitated by the Commercial Advisory Committee, mentioned in question 8. The projects of the last two summers have also enabled us to collect data and test solutions to ensure that public transport service is better integrated. to our future pedestrianization plans.
We also want to finance the adoption of a mobility plan for each commercial artery, in order to facilitate access, the coexistence of different modes of transport and ensure universal accessibility of shops (platform 4.2 d )).
Question : Are you planning to create a business acquisition program and set up a network of business incubators in SDC territory?
BH : Mouvement Montreal is committed to supporting and growing the Montreal economy. To do this, Mouvement Montréal will set up a network of commercial incubators and will also:
• Establish a Business Center to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses, including reducing development review times and streamlining the business and patio license application process.
• Coordinate with the provincial government the creation of economic zones in low-income boroughs, in order to offer tax incentives to small businesses.
• Support better coordination between urban planning, construction companies and small businesses.
• Identify and proactively support Montreal manufacturers looking to distribute their products globally, in order to speed up obtaining the necessary municipal authorizations.
• Commit to reducing the industrial and commercial property tax rate to 2.75 times the residential property tax rate by 2025.
VP : To protect merchants from disproportionate rent increases caused by the speculative market, Projet Montréal will set up the Accès-Locaux program, a program for the acquisition of commercial premises allowing SDCs and non-profit organizations to guarantee merchants .es access to affordable commercial premises. A sum of $ 5M is set aside to launch the program and we aim to eventually raise a fund of $ 100M in private capital.
With this commitment, Projet Montréal responds to a recommendation in the report on the Problem of vacant premises on commercial arteries.
We believe that ASDCM should be a central partner in this initiative.
DC : To make shopping streets attractive and dynamic, we have to offer a new experience. We welcome the fact that the SDCs can acquire buildings and create spaces that can renew themselves. For example, we support the fact that the SDCs can create spaces of convenience or even offer spaces for young entrepreneurs who want to test markets or operate ephemeral shops. We could then revitalize the shopping streets, but also reduce the number of vacant premises.
It is obvious that as the value of buildings increases, which leads to higher property taxes and higher rents, it will be increasingly difficult to maintain independent or specialized businesses. It is difficult to create a neighborhood identity when we find the same chains on all the commercial streets of the city. Many cities are facing this reality and we have to see it coming for Montreal.
We need to think about what form this can take and what the role of the City would be. Could the City be a second-tier lender, for example, as we see in certain areas?
Question : Would you like to create a structuring program to transform commercial arteries in the image of the various bilateral programs between the city-center and the boroughs – while paying particular attention to downtown Montreal – such as: the renovation program and greening of local parks, the program to support outdoor sports facilities, the program to renovate cabins in local parks, etc. ?
VP : We also share this vision of structural transformation of commercial arteries and we have demonstrated this throughout our mandate. We are therefore committed to continuing and implementing a program to improve commercial arteries in order, in particular, to increase greening and create public places or places of relaxation, etc. (platform 4.2 a)
We are also committed to promoting development solutions adapted to the needs of commercial arteries by facilitating the implementation of measures such as landing stages, 15-minute parking areas, street terraces, pedestrianization, all in concert with local merchants and SDCs. (platform 4.2 c)
Attractiveness of the city center:
With the goal of making downtown Montreal the most attractive and green downtown in North America, in our October 12 announcement, we announced a robust investment plan of $ 1 billion by 2030 , which will make downtown Montreal a model of attractiveness. Among the projects that will be carried out, let us note, for example, the development of public places in Square Phillips, and on avenue McGill College, the redevelopment of central arteries, such as Sainte-Catherine and Peel, and the redesign of the surroundings of Bonaventure Expressway. Part of these major investments will also be dedicated to new developments such as the Faubourgs et des terrains de la Molson sector, where new parks, schools and upgrading of underground infrastructure are planned.
In addition, the greening of the city center is essential for the quality of the experience offered in the city center. Projet Montréal will green the downtown area, in particular, by creating parks in developing sectors, creating a zero-emission zone within ten years, and implementing the Electrification Strategy.
Various measures for construction sites, cleanliness, issues of itinerancy, etc. are also planned in the city center.
DC : When there are needs to transform commercial arteries, the City will be there. To ensure the success of the transformations, we must have a plan in line with the city’s repair plans. If a SDC demonstrates a need to transform its commercial street, it is the role of the city-center to prioritize it and work with the boroughs to do so. When it concerns the SDCs, we will consult the SDCs. In recent years, Projet Montréal has cut $ 100 million for the repair of streets in the borough. We absolutely have to reinvest this $ 100 million first.
At Ensemble Montréal, we believe in not only maintaining funds but also putting them in place for the boroughs, such as a cleanliness fund, a greening fund, but also a fund for appeasement and street security in particular. We believe that funds dedicated to the boroughs are a good way to have solutions adapted to the differentiated needs of the boroughs.
BH : Mouvement Montréal has proposed a robust infrastructure and urban planning policy that includes:
• Provide direct public transport lines between the outlying districts and
• The investment and creation of green spaces (parks, community gardens) across the city,
particularly in low-income boroughs.
• Increase funding for local food programs and community gardens.
• Improve accessibility to Montreal through sidewalk renewal projects that give
priority to the development of curbs at all major intersections in Montreal.
• Establish partnerships with the forestry departments of major Montreal universities in order to
to set up an ecological monitoring program for Montreal’s biodiversity zones.
• Invest in sports infrastructure, including free access to all recreational facilities
for low income families.
• Invest in extracurricular programs and “youth hubs” in centers
communities of Montreal.