Laval city council meets one last time before Nov. 7 elections
The Laval News
Martin C. Barry
As the Laval city council meeting on Oct. 5 was the last council session of Mayor Marc Demers’s administration before the municipal elections on Nov. 7, he opened the webcast meeting with comments on the eight years he spent as Laval’s highest-ranking elected official.
To serve and protect
“It was a privilege for me to serve and protect the citizens of Laval for 38 years,” said Demers, who was a Laval Police Department officer and investigator before entering politics in 2013, and who is not seeking another term in office.
“During the last eight years as mayor of the City of Laval, we made a commitment to put an end to disorder in 2013, and to restore pride to the employees and cities of the City of Laval to be living in Laval and to be associated with Laval.
“I can say mission accomplished,” added the mayor. “We said clearly that we were going to fight against corruption and collusion, while recovering sums of money that had been stolen.
“So, listen, we succeeded in recovering $50 million which was put back into service for the citizens of Laval from this collusion and corruption. That’s more than any other municipality in Quebec. And will be continuing negotiations and investigations to recover further sums of money.”
As regards integrity and transparency, Demers pointed out that the City of Laval was cited since 2013 by academics and experts in public administration as an outstanding example of good management among municipalities, to be emulated by other towns and cities.
He noted that under his administration, the Bureau d’intégrité et d’éthique de Laval (BIEL) was created to oversee governance and ethics issues, and that the City of Saint-Jérôme adopted the same model, while the City of Terrebonne joined Laval in a mutually-beneficial effort to seek improvements.
In addition, he said, the Secretariat for Governance was put in place to lend support to community organizations, and budgets were increased at the municipal ombudsman’s and the municipal auditor general’s offices, while their mandates were also expanded.
It was also during Mayor Marc Demers’ two terms in office that funds were allotted to facilitate the webcasting of the City of Laval’s monthly council meetings live over the Internet. Past meetings are also available in an online archive.
All in all, the mayor maintained that his administration succeeded in raising the City of Laval’s credibility in the eyes of the federal and provincial governments, which paid off in the form of a greater number of subsidies and grants from Ottawa and Quebec than Laval had ever received before.
Thanks city employees
“That was based on the work we did, but also the work of our employees, the professional presentations that were submitted to the provincial and federal governments. This credibility was transformed into several advantages for our citizens.
“The economy of Laval is, according to economists at Mouvement Desjardins, the best economy and the best-positioned of all the administrative regions of Quebec. And the year 2022 will be, according to them, spectacular. This solid base gives us the best credit rating of all the cities in Quebec, which allows us to obtain advantageous interest rates on loans the city makes.”
With all these advantages, Demers claimed his administration was able to keep property taxes in Laval among the lowest of the 10 largest cities in Quebec and below the prevailing rate of inflation since 2013, going so far as to freeze taxes in 2020.
“I am leaving to the next leaders a city of the 21st century, which is heading in the right direction,” Demers said finally, after listing several other of his administration’s accomplishments.
“I am very proud to say mission accomplished. We put an end to disorder. The City of Laval has a credibility as it didn’t have for several decades, and the citizens are at the root for most of the decisions and orientations that we take.”
During a segment of the meeting for tabling of residents’ petitions, Marc-Aurèle-Fortin city councillor (and official opposition leader) Michel Trottier deposited a petition signed by 650 people in disagreement with plans by the city to refurbish the Berge aux Quatre Vents riverside park in Laval-Ouest. According to Trottier, the signers are not concerned about the city’s plans to broaden access to the park, but rather the lack of public consultation.
Homage to Gilbert Dumas
Among the current city councillors not seeking a new mandate in the upcoming elections are Aram Elagoz (Renaud), Daniel Hébert (Marigot) and Virginie Dufour (Sainte-Rose). Both Dufour and Michel Trottier took time to pay homage to former city councillor for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin Gilbert Dumas, who passed away suddenly in 2019.
“He was a classy guy,” said Trottier, who won the seat in the by-election that took place to fill the seat after Dumas’ departure. “I miss him a lot,” said Dufour, while adding that Dumas provided her with advice and guidance when she first decided to enter municipal politics.