Quebec Studies

Montreal's Metropolitan Government: La Communauté Urbaine

Quebec Studies (1988), 6, (1), 12–25.

Abstract

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.

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Author details

Sancton, Andrew