Business leaders concerned about direction of city: Chamber president

Business leaders concerned about direction of city: Chamber president

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With roadwork causing congestion and a homelessness crisis on the streets, the business community says it is worried about the future of Montreal, says Michel Leblanc.

The president of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal grilled Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante on Wednesday after she gave a luncheon speech at the Sheraton Centre hotel downtown. He expressed concerns he echoed from shop owners and business leaders that the city is dirty, overrun with people sleeping on the street and nearly impossible to navigate in a car.

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Afterward, he told reporters that the confidence of the business community appears to be shaken.

“Over the years, I have had the sense that there was more confidence in the future of the city and, recently, I have heard from people who are concerned, people who are not sure anymore that everything will be fine,” Leblanc said. “They are not changing decisions (about investing in the city), just voicing concerns.”

He added that there have been difficult situations in the past, but this is the first time in his 15 years as president of the group that represents business leaders that there is a feeling the city is teetering on the edge of a downslide.

“That dynamic can be very positive, it can just be a temporary question, or it could be something that could potentially diminish the potential for investing and creating jobs. This is what I wanted to address” with the mayor.

Leblanc, who has been rumoured as mulling a challenge to Plante in 2025, did not confirm or deny any election intentions.

However, he is concerned about the recent tripling of the registration tax on passenger vehicles, which was passed by the Montreal Metropolitan Community, over which Plante presides. He asked Plante whether Montrealers should expect other new increases in fees or a disproportionate property tax hike, as the city struggles with its finances during difficult economic times.

“We definitely intend to keep property tax hikes within the rate of inflation, or as close as possible,” Plante told Leblanc at the conference.

Plante added that she’s working hard to improve traffic issues within the city and to solve the housing crisis, but many of the solutions are complicated and involve other levels of government.

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