Archives mensuelles : février 2013

Retisser la ville, ou comment mieux Vivre en ville

Y’a des fois où t’as pas besoin d’ajouter quoi que ce soit sur un sujet d’importance: des gens compétents se sont chargés de faire un travail exhaustif et de grande qualité.

Il ne nous reste donc qu’à vous inviter à visionner la vidéo insérée ci-haut, à visiter le site web de Vivre en ville, et à acheter la publication double « Retisser la ville. »

Bravo et merci à Vivre en ville pour cet excellent travail qui devra assurément guider les travaux d’aménagement de Montréal pour les années à venir!

 

 

Retirer les primes de départ n’est qu’un début

par Donald Riendeau

Gilles Surprenant

 

Le ministre Gaudreault lance un message clair aux élus municipaux, il propose de mettre un terme aux primes de départ pour les élus démissionnaires en cours de mandat. Être un élu est un privilège qui s’accompagne de responsabilités, il faut être digne de la confiance qui nous est accordée. Depuis quelques semaines le gouvernement du Québec fait preuve d’une certaine écoute citoyenne, une certaine sensibilité à nos préoccupations, outre l’épisode du délégué du Québec à New-York.

Cependant, les Québécois s’attendent à beaucoup plus. Le projet de loi 10 frappe l’imaginaire, mais concrètement touche une poignée de gens. Tout au plus, deux ou trois élus seront annuellement accusés au criminel et une vingtaine d’autres démissionneront en cours de mandat. Nous récupérerons collectivement peut-être deux, voir trois millions de dollars, probablement le prix de la réforme.

Pour redonner confiance aux Québécois, le gouvernement aurait intérêt à considérer l’adoption de mesures plus globales avec de véritables impacts. Nos gouvernants auront-ils le « courage » de remettre en question certaines pratiques qui les touchent directement ?

D’abord, s’il y a une question taboue c’est bien celle des régimes de retraite des députés provinciaux. Plusieurs experts parlent d’une générosité excessive et d’un pactole sans commune mesure. Deux mandats et voilà une généreuse pension à vie équivalente à trente années de salaire d’un employé du secteur privé. Pas surprenant que certains soient attirés par la politique pour assurer leurs vieux jours ! À une époque où un gouvernement sérieux et soucieux de l’avenir du Québec devra procéder à des compressions, l’exemple doit venir d’en haut, les bottines doivent suivre les babines.

La remise en question des allocations de transition est une autre mesure qui aurait des impacts financiers réels et lancerait un message clair. Rappelez-vous lors des dernières élections municipales, près d’une dizaine d’ex-élus de la Ville de Montréal se sont vus accorder de généreuses allocations de transition alors que quelques semaines plus tard ils se voyaient replacer dans d’autres fonctions avec un salaire encore plus élevé que celui d’élu municipal ! Bravo à l’ex-ministre conservatrice Josée Verner, sans néanmoins quelques hésitations et pressions populaires, qui a renoncé à une indemnité de départ de $ 116,000 alors qu’elle se voyait offrir simultanément un emploi à vie à la Chambre haute (Sénat).

Un autre exemple d’une mesure créative pourrait consister à mettre en place la « clause du Surprenant », en l’honneur de notre ripou préféré de la Commission Charbonneau. Cette clause permettrait de saisir une partie du régime de retraite de fonctionnaires corrompus, la partie que les citoyens payent. Pour les fonctionnaires municipaux, cette partie représente souvent près de 75% de leur prestation. Imaginez que chaque Surprenant recevra plus de $ 2 millions en régime de retraite s’il atteint l’espérance de vie moyenne !  Imaginez les sommes que nous pourrions récupérer…

En terminant, bravo au présent gouvernement pour cette mise en bouche, ce hors-d’œuvre. Pour apaiser la grogne des Québécois et reconstruire le lien de confiance, un véritable plat de résistance devra être au rendez-vous, ce qui implique du courage et du leadership.

Economic development à la Bloomberg: learning from the success of NYC

by Martin Bergeron

While the U.S. economy is still sluggish and most american cities have not recuperated all the jobs lost since 2008, New York City is booming. Indeed, not only has New York gained back all the jobs it had lost in 2008-09, but it has created just as many new ones too, adding up to a 200% job creation performance over a short period of time.

How did they do it? Mayor Michael Bloomberg talked about it in a speech he gave to the Economic Club in Washington DC last september. (video above)

Since the Mayor suggests that their approach could serve as an example for other cities, I want to highlight its main elements here, and briefly discuss each of them as they apply to Montreal.

New York’s economic development success, according to him, is mainly based on « four key ways that we’re working to align our economy with structural shifts » of the 21st century. Here they are:

1- Business environment and entrepreneurship

Sure: taxation is part of the equation to create a favourable business environment, Mayor Bloomberg says, but not the most important factor. Instead, entrepreneurship is the key factor to creating jobs and growing the economy, which is why his administration is making sure that it is as easy as possible to start a business in NYC. How?

“In New York City, we’re helping entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground by joining with the private and nonprofit sectors to create incubators that have the capacity to launch more than 1,000 new businesses over the next three years. »

Here I’m thinking about Notman House, which is a fantastic project, or the CEIM as a more classic incubator. We need to support them…and we need a lot more of those in Montreal, in various sectors of the economy. Incubators could be launched and supported in more traditional, low-tech industries too, even as the high-tech sector will continue to expand its key role in our local economy.

New York has also created what they call Small Business Solution Centres « to help connect entrepreneurs to the capital and expertise they need to open and grow. » Info-Entrepreneurs already plays that role in Montreal, and perhaps it should expand its activities and grow in importance as we move forward over the next few years.

Finally, the City itself has made two key internal changes as it tries to help businesses establish themselves and grow in New York. First, it has created the position of Chief Business Operations Officer, « with the sole mission of making government more responsive and efficient in dealing with business customers. » It has also put in place a New Business Acceleration Team whose job it is to facilitate the approval process for restaurants and retail stores.

Since the vitality of commercial streets in Montreal (among those: ASDCM) is so important to our urban lifestyle, we ought to treat that last idea very seriously.

2- Infrastructures

A sobering note to those who believe that throwing public money directly at corporations is the way to attract them here: it might work in a few cases, but the general data tells a different story. What will always remain important, however, is to have quality infrastructures that underpin everything else.

In New York City, this means investments in water lines and sewers, cruise and container terminals, airports, train stations…and public transit.

If you have been following this blog over the last few months, you already know by now that I am a HUGE fan of public transit. In Montreal, it is an absolute no-brainer: we ought to be investing in public transit as much as we can! Why? If you can read french, read this. If you don’t, I can sum it up quickly for you: it feeds our industrial base, improves our productivity by reducing congestion, saves montrealers a lot of money and stimulates land value.

Mayor Bloomberg invested heavily in a subway extension on the west side of Manhattan, and then saw billions of dollars of new private money being attracted to the area. Anybody surprised?

Which is great because, in Montreal, we also have metro lines to extend, starting with the blue one all the way to Anjou. Think about all the benefits that will accrue to the north-eastern area of Montreal when we finally build it? We cannot start it soon enough!

3- New markets for investment: zoning changes and tourism

Corporations come and go, people move…cities change! Yesterday’s manufacturing floor is today’s loft and an abandoned area might someday become a new hot spot. Think Griffintown!

Mayor Bloomberg explains that the City re-energized many areas – particularly in the four boroughs outside of Manhattan – and attracted new projects and investments simply by modernizing zoning regulations. For instance, some areas remained industrial zones even though they had been abandoned by industry for over twenty years. Changing these areas into residential and/or commercial areas attracts real estate investments and creates entirely new neighbourhoods where there were only vacant lots.

The city of New York also made a major push on tourism by opening and expanding tourism offices in 18 countries, which has resulted in an increase of 60% in the number of tourists from those countries. Overall, New York is now attracting 51 million visitors a year, up from 37 million just ten years ago.

Tourism is amazing: its purely new revenue that we would not have otherwise. Mayor Bloomberg sees it as an export strategy, and so do I.

The entertainment we provide, the restaurants…Montréal’s joie de vivre ought to be at the heart of an aggressive strategy for tourism going forward. Simply put: it’s very easy to have a good time in Montreal. We need more people from around the globe to know about it.

4- Education

Here’s how Mayor Bloomberg introduces his foray into education:

“Rebuilding the American middle class cannot be done without retooling our skill set. When I was in high school, many low-skill jobs came with a ticket to the middle class. Not anymore. Today, with most blue-collar jobs, no longer do you just ‘work with your hands.’ Nearly every job requires more analytic thinking, more technological skill, and more computer literacy. »

This is why the debate about the future of our Universities is so crucial at the moment. Montreal is a major University town and it has to remain that way. Our Universities are, and will remain at the heart of our development and vitality. We simply have to find a way to provide better financing for them so they can remain cutting-edge and competitive, both in their teaching and research.

By the way, Universities are often the perfect partner to develop business incubators, which ties it up nicely to the first point of Bloomberg’s strategy. Many successful businesses in Silicon Valley were launched straight out of Stanford University, initially developed on campus. A good example of such an initiative is the Quartier de l’innovation, a partnership between McGill University and the École de Technologie Supérieure (ÉTS).

Of course, we don’t just need better students, we also need more of them…which means we need more kids to stay in school. While it has not been this way so far, I  believe that school boards and schools in Montreal will have to become more involved in the development and success of our city.

Conclusion

Cities are where most people live now, and municipalities have to take a greater leadership role going forward, even when they depend on other levels of government for financing. Economic development has to be a high-level priority for the next administration in Montreal, and looking at New York City and Mayor Michael Bloomberg for guidance is not a bad place to start.