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Gatineau residents express mixed reactions to proposed vehicle registration tax increase

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The City of Gatineau is looking into increasing a municipal tax added to annual vehicle registration costs, in an effort to further fund public transit.

Currently, drivers in the area already pay $30 annually towards this tax, but the proposal has sparked mixed reactions among residents.

Each year, Quebec motorists like Roger Daze must renew their vehicle registration. In the communities of Gatineau, Cantley and Chelsea, the price tag is around $300, which includes insurance as well as the $30 municipal tax.

"I didn't know that," said Daze, who never noticed the tax, which has been unchanged since being enacted in 1992.

Under provincial laws, municipalities, in certain situations, have the authority to levy taxes on passenger vehicles. Earlier this week, the Gatineau City Council unanimously voted in favor of exploring the tax increase, prompting questions and concerns from locals.

"So what the heck? I mean, why are we paying?" said Daze. "I don't take the bus, I never have and I live out of town so it would be pretty hard for me to take the bus, I wouldn't."

Motorist and Gatineau resident, Dominic Belisle, shared similar sentiments.

"I'm against it because I'm a driver of a vehicle and I don't use public transit," he said. "It's enough, nothings cheap these days everything is expensive."

Council members must finalize their decision on the fee increase and vote the on the law by the end of May in order for it to take effect in January 2025.

Patrick Robert-Meunier, general manger of MOBI-O, a non-profit organization which advocates for the improved public transit and sustainable transportation models, emphasized the fee, saying it's increase is needed to better fund public transit, shared bike lanes, and public pathways.

"Right now, motorists aren't really paying the real costs of driving, each dollar that a person pays for car trips is almost $6 that it costs for society to support that," he said.

"There's a lot of car dependence and we need to address that if we want to tackle climate change and if we want to tackle health issues. We need to start by having the financial means to do it and also to discourage people from having a second or a third car."

In the coming weeks, the actual fee increase, and what it will be used for, will be decided by Gatineau's City Council on the advice of city finance staff.

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