Death and taxes.

The Jacques Cartier Bridge toll station, sometime in the early-mid 20th century (Photo: © Archives du port de Montréal)

To be honest, of the only two guarantees life has to offer, I worry way more about the former than the latter. But taxes – that’s the one people seem to focus on the most. As if they have any say in the matter.

On Jan. 1, amongst other things, the provincial sales tax in La Belle Province went up a point to 8.5 per cent. Also, the City of Montreal added a roughly $50 car tax and the STM upped the price of a bus/metro pass from $70 to $72.75.

But as much as I paying through the nose for all of this stuff sucks, I’ll live. High taxes are part of the cost of living in the city.

But here’s where it becomes unreasonable: if I have to pay $50 or so to own a car in Montreal and drive said car in Montreal as a homeowner in Montreal, why shouldn’t people who live off the island have to pay it as well? In fact, if it were up to me, they’d pay even more.

It’s time for tolls
As a Montrealer, the city basically has me by the sack and can charge me whatever it wants for whatever it feels like. I still wouldn’t vote for the opposition over Gérald Tremblay’s team, though – love or hate our current government, turning over the keys to Louise Harel certainly wouldn’t be an upgrade. That said, Tremblay needs friends in the city right now if he or his party plan on building some momentum for the next election – even if it’s still a few years away.

A great solution both economically and politically would be bridge tolls to get on the Island of Montreal – but with a catch. You’re charging me fifty bucks for having a car as a tax-paying Montrealer? Fine. But that should come with an EZ-Pass to get on an off the island without having to pay. At the same time, you want to live in Vaudreuil, own a car in Vaudreuil, pay taxes in Vaudreuil, but work in Montreal? Sure – come on in… but gimme $12 to cross the bridge into the city. Every time. (You can leave for free – we don’t want you here at night messing up our streets with your cowboy boots anyway)

Tolls are the best way to supplement the city’s coffers without further screwing the people who actually live here. Yes, we made a choice to stay on the island – but that’s the kind of thing the City of Montreal should be encouraging instead of urban sprawl. The easier you make it for people to live off-island, the more likely they will do so.

Now, if it were really up to me, there’d be tolls to come in from the West Island and RDP too, but I’ll acknowledge that that’s a little extreme. But there’s no good reason not to start taxing people who live all around our city and work and play here, but don’t contribute at the same level us Montrealers do.

You want to live in New Jersey but work in Manhattan? You pay a toll – that’s a reality of city life. It’s time our politicians did something right for a change and bring back the tolls to Montreal.