Montreal launches a consultation on the governance of Ville-Marie

Montreal launches a consultation on the governance of Ville-Marie

Montré al launches a consultation on the governance of Ville-Marie

Jacques Nadeau Archives Le Devoir Since 2009, the post of mayor of Ville-Marie has been de facto occupied by the person elected to the mayor of Montreal , which also appoints two councilors to sit on the borough council. This formula has been denounced many times over the years by citizens who see it as a democratic deficit.

Montreal wants to hear from the population about the governance of the borough of Ville-Marie by the end of March. One of the scenarios that will be submitted for consultation proposes the election by universal suffrage of the mayor of the borough, in addition to the abolition of the positions of designated councilors in favor of councilors elected by the citizens of the city centre.


Since 2009, the position of mayor of the borough of Ville-Marie has been de facto occupied by the person elected to mayor of Montreal, who also appoints two councilors to sit on the borough council. This formula has been denounced many times over the years by citizens of the borough who considered the democratic deficit of which they were victims unacceptable.

This model was adopted in 2008, after former mayor Gérald Tremblay asked Quebec for legislative changes to ensure that the mayor of Montreal had control over this strategic borough. Then mayor of Ville-Marie, Benoit Labonté had just walked out of Union Montréal, as had Councilor Karim Boulos, thus causing Mayor Tremblay to lose his majority in Ville-Marie. Quebec had granted the mayor's wish. As of 2009, following his re-election as mayor of Montreal, Gérald Tremblay now ran the town hall of Ville-Marie, as did Denis Coderre and Valérie Plante.

As early as 2017, Projet Montréal promised in its election platform to demand that the Quebec government correct “the inequity suffered by the citizens of the borough of Ville-Marie”. In November 2021, the Plante administration therefore entrusted a committee of experts, including former PQ minister Louise Harel, University of Montreal professor Laurence Bherer and the general manager of the Société de développement commercial du center -ville, Glenn Castanheira, the mission to look into the matter and propose solutions.

The scenarios

The committee of experts has developed three scenarios that have in common to replace the two positions of city councilors appointed by the mayor of Montreal by three positions of elected borough councilors who would not sit on the city council of Montreal . Thus, each district in the borough would have two locally elected councilors instead of one.

Scenario 1: The double function of mayor of Montreal and mayor of Ville-Marie would be retained. This formula would make it possible to maintain “administrative efficiency” and “harmony” between the City and this strategic borough. This proposal, however, would not increase the legitimacy of the position of borough mayor and would not satisfy the many critics, specify the documents of the City.

Scenario 2: The dual function of mayor of Montreal and mayor of Ville-Marie would be maintained, but a borough mayor would be appointed from among the elected councilors to take care of the day-to-day management of the borough. This formula would have the advantage of maintaining a “relative harmony” between the City and the borough, but would risk weighing down the administrative structure and decision-making, it is pointed out.

Scenario 3: The mayor of the borough would be elected by universal suffrage by the voters of Ville-Marie, which would respond to the desire for greater legitimacy of this position and would ensure better access to the mayor of the borough requested by the citizens. This scenario, however, would risk reviving the acrimonious situation before 2009, harming the development of the city center and undermining the current effectiveness of governance, it is argued.


The three scenarios will be submitted for consultation by the Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM) during the month of March with discussion workshops, one with citizens on March 18 and the other with socio-economic groups and associations on March 23. Citizens will also be able to express their views by answering an online questionnaire on the Réalisons Montréal platform.

“We want to hear the population. The objective is to go the opposite of what was done at a certain time, “explained to Devoirthe councilor for the district of Saint-Jacques and responsible for the democracy file on the executive committee, Robert Beaudry. “We want it to be an independent, non-partisan approach that brings all three scenarios into play.

The consultation will not be limited to the three scenarios, since citizens will be invited to submit their own proposals and these will be taken into consideration, assures Mr. Beaudry.

The INM will submit a report following the consultations. The Plante administration will retain a scenario that will be submitted to the Government of Quebec, since a change in the governance of Ville-Marie will require an amendment to the Charter of the City of Montreal. Robert Beaudry points out that if the government agrees to the City's request, the changes could come into effect during the 2025 municipal elections. The elected official, however, refrained from favoring one option among those proposed.

The running mate formula

Visiting professor at the National School of Public Administration and former provincial minister, Rémy Trudel believes that the status quo is not possible. According to him, the fact that the same person holds the position of mayor of the city and mayor of the borough of Ville-Marie can create certain conflicts. But even more, the accumulation of tasks can be problematic since the mayor of Montreal is already president of the agglomeration council, president of the Metropolitan Community of Montreal (CMM), in addition to sitting on the board of directors of the Regional Authority metropolitan transport (ARTM). “We can't be divided into 24. That puts the interests of the commercial and civic part of Ville-Marie at risk of neglect,” he says.

According to him, the option of a designated borough mayor should not be rejected. He suggests that a formula similar to that of a running mate be applied. Thus, during municipal elections, voters would know who could hold the office of borough mayor of Ville-Marie. “Citizens across the city could have their say too. I think that would give greater legitimacy to the first magistrate of the district. »

The Peter-McGill Neighborhood Table is delighted that the consultations have been held, although they have been a long time in coming. Project manager in participatory urban planning, Maryse Chapdelaine believes, however, that holding a single consultation session for citizens is not enough. ” That's a shame. We should have had one consultation per district, she said. It's ironic, because we're talking about citizen consultation and democracy. “

“It was time for this initiative to see the light of day,” said the leader of the opposition at City Hall, Aref Salem, about the consultation. “It took a whole mandate for the Plante administration to fulfill its promise and begin the consultation process. We invite the citizens of the borough of Ville-Marie to speak out in large numbers, they who are the first concerned by the decision that will be made. »