Plante Wins Second Term in Montreal on Housing, Police Plan
(Bloomberg) -- Valerie Plante won a second term as mayor of Montreal, fending off predecessor Denis Coderre’s attempt to climb back to power after a campaign dominated by housing costs, gun violence and transportation issues.
Plante, 47, the first woman to lead Canada’s second-most populous city, had received 52% of the vote in Sunday’s municipal ballot with nearly all polls counted according to the city’s election website. She has vowed to buy more land to build affordable housing, cap a property tax increase at 2% next year and boost the size of the police force.
Coderre, 58, who spent most of his career in politics and was defeated by Plante in 2017 despite stronger support among the business community, came second with 38%. In the last days of the campaign, he came under fire for refusing -- at first -- to reveal the names of companies he worked for as a consultant.
Balarama Holness, 38, a former professional football player whose most discussed proposal was to make Montreal officially bilingual as opposed to French-speaking, finished third with with 7%. Montreal has about 2 million residents.
The Covid-19 pandemic took a toll on the city, which was Canada’s virus hot spot for weeks after deadly outbreaks at long-term care facilities. Montreal was subject to some of the toughest restrictions in the country, including a curfew, leaving the city center deserted as subway and bus traffic collapsed. About a third of stores in downtown shopping malls, which largely depend on office workers, remain closed, according to a recent report.
After provincial emergency funding helped bolster the city’s strained finances last year, Plante is under pressure to support the recovery without overburdening taxpayers. While she’s popular among younger voters and in central neighborhoods, her policies and her leadership style have been divisive, prompting some members of her left-leaning Projet Montreal party to quit.
Supporters praise her pro-cycling initiatives and environmental efforts, and an attempt to force developers to build affordable housing. But a spike in gang-related shootings deaths, growing resentment among car drivers and the increasingly unaffordable real-estate market overshadowed her first term.
The election covers 19 boroughs across the island of Montreal -- but not all. Some central neighborhoods, such as upscale Westmount, elect their own mayor. The number of registered voters for this election dropped nearly 3% from 2017.
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