Quebec Studies

Montreal's Metropolitan Government: La Communauté Urbaine

Quebec Studies (1988), 6, (1), 12–25.


Québec Studies, No. 6,1988 MONTREAL'S METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT: LA COMMUNAUTÉ URBAINE by Andrew Sancton Metropolitan Montreal's municipal system is more fragmented than that of any other Canadian city. There are about a hundred separate municipalities within the census metropolitan area of Montreal, twenty-seven on the Island of Montreal. Their boundaries are almost unfathomable. Westmount, which borders the western fringes of the city's central business district, is a genuine enclave, surrounded on all sides by the City of Montreal, the territory of which is itself split in two parts by the continuing existence of the separate municipality of Montréal-Est. Côte-SaintLuc has three distinct territorial sections, as does Pierrefonds further to the west. By American standards this kind of municipal fragmentation is not unusual, but in Canada, where the tidy minds of provincial bureaucrats usually reign supreme, Montreal is an exception. Like Toronto, Ottawa, and Vancouver, but unlike almost all American metropolitan areas, Montreal also has a metropolitan level of government inserted between the province and the municipalities. It is called La Communauté urbaine de Montréal. Few Montrealers know much about how the Community works, yet most, especially suburbanites, have some opinion about it, usually negative. Everybody benefits every day from its services: sewers, police, public transit. In fact, a visitor to central Montreal is likely to see far more visible evidence of the Community than of the government of the City of Montreal. This essay is meant as a guide to the Community for the uninitiated. It aims to show that there is much of the government of the Island of Montreal, both in territory and function, that is not controlled directly by the Montreal city council and its mayor.

Access Token

Auf de Maur, N. and Chodos, R., eds. Quebec: A Chronicle 1968-72. Toronto: James, Lewis & Samuel, 1972. Quebec: A Chronicle 1968-72 Google Scholar

Bédard, R.-J. La bataille des annexions. Montreal: Les Edictions du Jour, 1965. La bataille des annexions Google Scholar

Bourassa, G. and Léveillée, J., eds. Le système politique de Montréal. Montreal: L'Association canadienne-française pour l'avancement des sciences, 1986. Le système politique de Montréal Google Scholar

Communauté urbaine de Montréal. Annual Report 1986. Google Scholar

Divay, G. and Collin, J.-P. La Communauté urbaine de Montréal: de la ville centrale à l'Île centrale. Montréal: Institut national de la recherche scientifique Urbanisation, 1977. La Communauté urbaine de Montréal: de la ville centrale à l'Île centrale Google Scholar

Linteau, P.-A. Maissoneuve ou Comment des promoteurs fabriquent une ville. Montréal: Boréal Express, 1981. Maissoneuve ou Comment des promoteurs fabriquent une ville Google Scholar

McKenna, B. and Purcell, S. Drapeau. Toronto: Clarke Irwin, 1980. Drapeau Google Scholar

Sancton, A. Governing the Island of Montreal: Language Differences and Metropolitan Politics. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985. Governing the Island of Montreal: Language Differences and Metropolitan Politics Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here


Author details

Sancton, Andrew