Today in History

By today in history we mean the first decade of the new millennium or, more precisely, we mean the beginning of the 2000s. During those years, the Island of Montreal Quebec was composed of the City of Montreal and of 27 smaller cities all governed by the Montreal Urban Community, the MUC.

The MUC was then a Quebec regional government with responsibilities that included services such as police protection, urban planning and sewage treatment.

In 2000 the MUC was replaced by the Montreal Metropolitan Community, the MMC now responsible for coordinating Montreal, Longueuil, Laval and other suburban cities of the metropolitan area. 

During those years, the amalgamation of the City of Montreal Quebec with the 27 other independent cities of the Island of Montreal was a dream cherished by some of our municipal and provincial elected officials.

The idea of uniting the City of Montreal with all the other smaller cities of the island of Montreal into one mega Montreal Quebec city was actually first proposed by Jean Drapeau, then mayor of the City of Montreal.

City of Montreal Maps

The Island of Montreal in 2001 - 550x453The Island of Montreal Map in 2001 - Wikipedia

Mayor Drapeau (Parti civique) was very much in favour of such a merger but his proposition was strongly opposed by many residents and some elected officials.

In 2001, Lucien Bouchard Quebec Prime Minister from the Parti Québécois first announced a plan to create one large municipality by merging the 28 cities of the Island of Montreal into one mega City of Montreal divided into 27 boroughs.

Pierre Bourque from Vision Montréal endorsed the unsuccessful attempt proposed by Lucien Bouchard but, unfortunately, it cost him his 2001 election as mayor of the City of Montreal Quebec. 

The next year, in 2002, Bernard Landry Quebec Prime Minister also from the Parti Québécois forcibly merged the entire Island of Montreal, that is all its cities and several of its remote islands into one mega city. 

As a result and according to today in history, in 2002 the City of Montreal and the 27 other cities of the Island of Montreal officially became a City of Montreal Quebec divided into 27 boroughs named after their former city or district names.

Today in History - Old Montreal Map

The Island of Montreal in 2002 - 550x473The Island of Montreal Map in 2002 - Wikipedia

During the same time, mayor Gérald Tremblay from Union Montreal and his administration decentralised this new mega city and gave more power to the boroughs and to their respective mayors and other elected officials.

Later on, during the 2003 provincial elections, Jean Charest from the winning Parti Libéral Québécois (PLQ) promised to submit each borough and each merger to a referendum.

In 2004, as promised and as part of today in history, a referendum took place during which some of the former Montreal cities voted to demerge from the mega Montreal Quebec City and to regain their municipal status.

As a result, the decision made by prime minister Bernard Landry (PQ) in 2002 was partially reversed by prime minister Jean Charest (PLQ) and, this time, the Island of Montreal was divided into one City of Montreal subdivided into 19 boroughs and in 15 other reconstituted cities. 

The demergers came into effect in 2006. If some of the previously independent cities regained most of their independence they did not regain all the powers they had before the merger in 2002. 

Nowadays, the City of Montreal has the upper hand over the entire Island of Montreal officially called the Montreal Agglomeration.

Many municipal powers are now under the Montreal Agglomeration Council presided by the mayor of the City Montreal and by 30 other elected officials.

The debate regarding a new municipal amalgamation, a new dissolution or the continuation of the Island of Montreal as it is today in history could resurface any day.

The possibility of merging boroughs and cities, of reducing the number of elected officials or of adjusting boundaries is still open to discussion by citizens and elected officials.

Some argue that the demerged cities are satisfied with their situation and that their finances are better managed, while others believe that municipal mergers are a failure and have not resulted in any economy of scale. 

Political Map of Montreal

The Island of Montreal since 2006 - 550x456The Island of Montreal Map since 2006 - Wikipedia

The possible reunification of Outremont and Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, of Anjou and Outremont, of Anjou and Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles, of Anjou and Saint-Leonard or of Saint-Leonard and Montreal-Nord are often mentioned. 

Map of Montreal - Today in History

Profil économique - Ville de Montréal

Also mentioned is the potential merger of LaSalle and Lachine as well as the annexation of the western part of Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles to Montreal-Nord to simplify service delivery.

Let's just say that the controversy is still present, that the debate is far from being over and that the situation of not so many years ago could very well repeat itself today in history.

Montreal ISLAND Kit
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by Rachel Louise Barry