Laval passes by-laws taxing oil furnaces and downtown paved surfaces

During their May city council meeting last week, Laval’s city councillors passed two new by-laws aimed at imposing new taxes on situations having a negative environmental impact.

As part of the city’s long-range Horizon 2035 climate plan, the first of the measures will see a new tax imposed on residential furnaces that burn fuel oil, while the second measure will see a tax imposed on all paved surfaces in the centre of Laval that are owned by commercial or industrial interests.

The new by-laws are in addition to an adjustment made by the city in January to the amount paid by commercial, industrial and institutional property owners in Laval for access to municipal water service.

The City of Laval is taking steps to cut down on the effects of “heat islands” caused by vast asphalted areas such as parking lots.

“Beyond public policies, the ecological transition will only be able to take place with a collective movement and the participation of all parties in society,” said Mayor Stéphane Boyer. “By adopting these two eco fiscality by-laws, our administration wishes to tax in the most intelligent way possible, and thus doing to lighten the fiscal burden of citizens.

“With the implementation of these concrete incentives, it is our goal to encourage exemplary respectful treatment of the environment. We are proud to take a lead in this kind of matter to make of Laval a city that is even greener and more agreeable to live in.”

According to the city, oil heating currently is the biggest cause of greenhouse gases emitted by residential buildings – up to 100 times more polluting than hydroelectricity. The city estimates that the approximate 13,000 oil heating systems on its territory put out approximately 42 614 tCO2e/an, or the equivalent of 12,175 automobiles annually.

It should be noted that at the same time, the city is offering a subsidy to homeowners wishing to replace their oil heating systems. The amount of that subsidy doubled this year, from $1,000 (as previously) to $2,000 now.

Any homeowner with an oil heating system will be receiving a letter from the City of Laval between now and June. Under terms of the by-law, homeowners will also be obliged to declare when they have an oil furnace.

It should also be noted that homes equipped with dual-energy heating (oil and electricity) will be subject to the new tax, which amounts to $50 per heating unit per year for dual-energy. Those with oil-fired furnaces only will pay $100 per furnace unit.

Regarding the second by-law, the city says it is aimed at encouraging centre-city property owners to green over their spaces, or to redevelop them in such a way as to reduce rainwater waste from flow into sewers, discouraging heat islands and encouraging more environmentally-sound use of downtown space. The tax, which comes into effect during the current year, targets 129 commercial or industrial spaces in downtown Laval.

Action Laval says surtax on paved lots unfairly punishes businesses

Action Laval city councillor for Val des Arbres Archie Cifelli.

The Laval city council Action Laval opposition party reacted unfavourably to the Boyer administration’s plan to implement a new surtax on paved lots downtown, calling the measure environmentally unsound and an additional burden to businesses.

“This new tax, which applies only for the time being downtown, will penalize our businesses which have already been burdened in the last few years by the pandemic, inflation, a lack of employees, rather than reducing heat islands as it is supposed to,” the party said in a statement.

Action Laval points out that, based on what already is known, the tax will be progressive over time, while the wording of the by-law suggests that the door remains open to expanding it elsewhere in the city. The party suggests that the fiscal impact on lot owners will eventually be passed on to the public in the form of higher prices, encouraging consumers to buy from online retailers.

“Rather than punishing businesses, why don’t we work in a positive way by rewarding businesses which reached objectives?” said Action Laval city councillor for Val-des-Arbres Achille Cifelli. “What’s more, there is a risk of a conflict ending up in court if the taxation ends up not being equitable.”