2002–2006 municipal reorganization of Montreal

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Montreal was one of the cities in Quebec affected by the 2000–2006 municipal reorganization in Quebec.[1] On January 1, 2002, all the municipalities on the island of Montreal were merged into the city of Montreal.

However, following a change of government in the 2003 Quebec election and a 2004 referendum, some of those municipalities became independent cities again on January 1, 2006. The recreated cities did not regain all of their previous powers, however. A new urban agglomeration of Montreal was created, which resulted in the recreated cities still sharing certain municipal services with Montreal.

Merger and demerger[edit]

Municipalities in 2001
Municipalities existing in 2001: City of Montreal (186 square kilometres (72 sq mi)) and 27 independent municipalities
Montreal after 2002 merger
Island of Montreal on January 1, 2002, after the merger. (500 square kilometres (190 sq mi))
Montreal Island after 2006 demerger
Island of Montreal currently as of January 1, 2006: City of Montreal (366 square kilometres (141 sq mi)) and 15 independent municipalities
Municipal evolution on Montreal Island (2001-2006).

Une île, une ville[edit]

Until 2001, the island of Montreal was divided into the city of Montreal proper and 27 smaller municipalities. These formed the Montreal Urban Community (MUC). On January 1, 2002, all 28 municipalities on the island were merged into the "megacity" of Montreal, under the slogan "Une île, une ville" ("One island, one city"). This merger was part of a larger provincial scheme launched by the Parti Québécois all across Quebec, resulting in the merging of many municipalities. It was felt that larger municipalities would be more efficient, and would be more able to withstand comparison with the other cities in Canada, which had already expanded their territory—most notably Toronto, which had merged with the other municipalities of what was then dubbed "Metro Toronto" in 1998-1999 (the GTA is the larger regional area including Toronto and the surrounding cities).

As happened elsewhere in Canada, the merger was opposed by many residents on the island of Montreal. The situation on the island of Montreal was further complicated by the presence of predominantly English-speaking municipalities that were due to merge with the predominantly French-speaking city of Montreal. English speakers were afraid to lose their rights, despite claims by the mayor of Montreal that their linguistic rights would remain protected in the new city of Montreal. Many street protests were organized, lawsuits were filed, and 15 municipalities appealed to the Court of Appeal of Quebec. It was all to no avail. In Canada, municipal governments are creatures of the provincial governments, and provincial governments have the power to create and dissolve municipalities by ordinary statute.

At the 2001 census, the city of Montreal (185.94 km2/71.80 sq. miles) had 1,039,534 inhabitants. After the merger, the population of the new city of Montreal (500.05 km2/193.10 sq. miles) was 1,812,723 (based on 2001 census figures). The post merger city was 169% larger in terms of land area, and had 74% more people. For comparisons, at the 2001 census the city of Toronto (629.91 km2/243.20 sq. miles) had 2,481,494 inhabitants.

The merged city of Montreal was divided into 27 boroughs (known in French as "arrondissements") in charge of local administration. The city government was responsible for larger matters such as economic development or transportation issues. It is only a coincidence that there were 27 independent municipalities before 2002, and 27 arrondissements in the merged entity. In fact, in most areas the arrondissements did not correspond to the former municipalities, cutting across the territory of the former municipalities.


At the provincial elections of April 2003, the Quebec Liberal Party defeated the Parti Québécois. One central plank of the Liberal campaign was that if elected, they would allow merged municipalities to organize referendums in order to demerge if they wished to do so. As promised, on June 20, 2004, the referendums were held throughout Quebec.

The process to demerge was complicated. (see 2004 Quebec municipal referendums and 2000–2006 municipal reorganization in Quebec) The first stage was to sign a register in order for a referendum to be held, then the population had to vote a second time. In several areas, the referendums failed because even though a majority of those voting supported demerging, it did not meet the required threshold of 35% of registered voters. This process was detailed in a documentary film called The Village Resists: The Forced Municipal Mergers of Quebec by Ryan Young that followed the municipality of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue as it fought successfully to demerge.

On the island of Montreal, referendums were held in 22 of the 27 previously independent municipalities. Following the referendum results, 15 of the previously independent municipalities have regained most of their independence. These are predominantly English-speaking municipalities, with also some French-speaking municipalities. Oddly, one of the 15 municipalities recreated, L'Île-Dorval, had no permanent inhabitants at the 2001 census, being a cottaging island.

The demerger took place on January 1, 2006. After this date, there were 16 municipalities on the island of Montreal—the city of Montreal proper plus 15 independent municipalities. The current city of Montreal comprises the pre-2002 city of Montreal plus 12 of the previously independent municipalities, and is divided into 19 arrondissements. The post-demerger city of Montreal has a territory of 366.02 km2 (141.3 sq. miles) and a population of 1,583,590 inhabitants (based on 2001 census figures). Compared with the pre-merger city of Montreal, this is a net increase of 96.8% in land area, and 52.3% in population. Compared with the post-merger city of Montreal, however, this is a net decrease of 26.8% in land area, and 12.64% in population.

Corporate lobbies close to the Liberal Party of Quebec stress the fact that after the demerger, the city of Montreal still has almost as many (approx. 88%) inhabitants as the "megacity" of Montreal (the suburban municipalities to be recreated are less densely populated than the core city), and that the overwhelming majority of industrial sites will still be located on the territory of the post-demerger city of Montreal. The post-demerger city of Montreal will be slightly greater than half the size of the post-1998 merger city of Toronto, with roughly two thirds its size in terms of population reflecting higher population density in Montreal even including those 'suburban' municipalities which opted not to demerge.

Metropolitan Community of Montreal and its five constituent parts

However, both the Liberal government of Quebec and the municipality of Montreal made it clear that the 15 reconstituted municipalities would not have as many powers as before the 2002 merger, even though Charest had promised complete de-amalgamation during the 2003 campaign. As with the other de-merged municipalities across Quebec, the recreated municipalities remained tied to Montreal via the newly created urban agglomeration of Montreal. While the recreated municipalities regained most of their former powers, major expenses such as police, fire and maintenance of main streets remained with the Montreal Agglomeration Council, a joint board covering the entire island of Montreal. The city of Montreal controls a supermajority of votes on the board.

There is still controversy focusing on the cost of demerging. Several studies[citation needed] show that the recreated municipalities will incur substantial financial costs, thus forcing them to increase taxes, though proponents of the demerger contest these studies.

The island of Montreal is only one component of the Montreal Metropolitan Community (French: Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal), in charge of planning, coordinating, and financing economic development, public transportation, garbage collection, etc., across the metropolitan area of Montreal. The Metropolitan Community of Montreal covers 3,839 km2 (1,482 sq. miles), with 3,431,551 inhabitants living inside its borders in 2002; it is thus larger in area and population than the city of Toronto (even after its 1998 merger). However, the city of Toronto is larger than the city of Montreal proper, and Toronto's metro area (not a legal entity) is larger than the Montreal Metropolitan Community, with 7,000 square kilometres (2,700 sq mi) and 5.8 million people. The president of the Montreal Metropolitan Community is the mayor of Montreal.

Municipal evolution on the Island of Montreal (2002–2006)[edit]

Mergers and demergers on the Island of Montreal (2002-2006)
Boroughs (2002) Originating from After 2006 demerger
City of Montreal Other municipalities Montreal boroughs (2006) Demerged municipalities
Ahuntsic-Cartierville Green tickY Ahuntsic-Cartierville
Anjou Anjou Anjou
Beaconsfield–Baie-D'Urfé Beaconsfield Beaconsfield
Baie-d'Urfé[a 1] Baie-D'Urfé
Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Green tickY Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
Côte Saint-Luc–Hampstead–Montreal West Côte Saint-Luc Côte Saint-Luc
Hampstead Hampstead
Montreal West Montréal West
Dollard-Des Ormeaux–Roxboro Dollard-des-Ormeaux Dollard-des-Ormeaux
Roxboro Pierrefonds-Roxboro
Pierrefonds-Senneville Pierrefonds
Senneville Senneville
Dorval–L'Île-Dorval Dorval Dorval
L'Île-Dorval L'Île-Dorval
Kirkland Kirkland Kirkland
Lachine Lachine Lachine
Ville Saint-Pierre
LaSalle LaSalle LaSalle
L'Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève–Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue L'Île-Bizard L'Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève
Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue
Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve Green tickY Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve
Montreal North Montreal North Montréal-Nord
Mount Royal Mount Royal Mount Royal
Outremont Outremont Outremont
Le Plateau-Mont-Royal Green tickY Le Plateau-Mont-Royal
Pointe-Claire Pointe-Claire Pointe-Claire
Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles–Montréal-Est Green tickY Montréal-Est Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles
Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie Green tickY Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie
Saint-Laurent Saint-Laurent Saint-Laurent
Saint Leonard Saint-Léonard Saint-Léonard
Le Sud-Ouest Green tickY Le Sud-Ouest
Verdun Verdun Verdun
Ville-Marie Green tickY Ville-Marie
Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension Green tickY Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension
Westmount Westmount Westmount
  1. ^ Original (but erroneous) official spelling: Baie d'Urfée. Original unofficial spelling, which also became official in 1959: Baie d'Urfé. Spelling further corrected in 2002: Baie-D'Urfé (source: http://linuxfocus.org/~guido/book-a-history-of-the-town-of-baie-d-urfe/then-and-now/#namechange)
Montreal boroughs (2002-2005)
Island of Montreal's 27 boroughs after 2002 merger
Island of Montreal after 2006 demerger
Island of Montreal after 2006 demerger (with 19 boroughs and 14 reconstituted municipalities)

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Trent, Peter F. (2012). The Merger Delusion: How Swallowing Its Suburbs Made an Even Bigger Mess of Montreal. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 978-0-7735-3932-7.


  1. ^ "Quebec municipal referendums". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2014-03-03.