With these Montreal geography facts we go back to the first decade of the new millennium or, more precisely, to the beginning of the 2000s. During those years, the Island of Montreal was composed of one City of Montreal and 27 smaller cities, all governed by the Montreal Urban Community, the MUC.
The MUC was then a Quebec regional government with services and responsibilities such as police protection, urban planning and sewage treatment.
In 2000 the MUC was replaced by the Montreal Metropolitan Community, a MMC now responsible for coordinating Montreal, Longueuil, Laval and all the other suburban cities of the metropolitan area.
During those years, the amalgamation of the City of Montreal and 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 into one mega Montreal Quebec city was proposed for the first time by Jean Drapeau, then mayor of the City of Montreal.
Mayor Drapeau from the 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 (PQ) was the first elected official to announce a plan. As prime minister of the province of Québec, he chose to create one large municipality by merging the then 28 cities of the Island of Montreal into one mega City of Montreal divided into 27 boroughs.
Pierre Bourque from Vision Montréal endorsed the eventual unsuccessful attempt proposed by Lucien Bouchard but 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 (PQ) forcibly merged the entire Island of Montreal into one single mega city. As a result, every cities and several remote islands all became a rather large City of Montreal.
In 2002 the City of Montreal and the 27 other cities of the Island of Montreal officially became one City of Montreal Quebec divided into 27 boroughs named after their former city or district names. A series of Montreal geography facts seen by some as a badly diagnosed problem with a wrong remedy.
During the same time, mayor Gérald Tremblay from Union Montreal and his administration decentralised this new mega city and gave more power to each borough and to their respective mayors and elected officials.
Later, 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, and as promised, a referendum took place and some of the former cities of the Island of Montreal voted to demerge from the mega Montreal Quebec City recently created and to regain their respective municipal status.
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 became one City of Montreal divided into 19 boroughs and 15 other reconstituted cities.
The demergers came into effect in 2006. Consequently, some of the previously independent cities regained most of their independence, but they did not regain all the powers they had before the merger of 2002.
Nowadays, the City of Montreal has the upper hand over the entire Island of Montreal officially called the Montreal Urban Agglomeration. Many municipal powers are now under the Montreal Agglomeration Council presided by the mayor of the City of Montreal, accompanied by 30 other elected officials.
The debate regarding a municipal amalgamation, a new dissolution or the continuation of the Island of Montreal as it is now could resurface any day. Many of the same Montreal geography facts are still discussed by some.
The possibility of merging boroughs and cities, of reducing the number of elected officials and of adjusting boundaries is still open to discussion. Citizens and elected officials still argue.
Some claim that the demerged cities are satisfied with their situation and that their finances are better managed. Others believe that municipal mergers are a failure and that the benefits did not materialize. According to some, citizens are, in economical facts and comparisons, better served in small municipalities.
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, of Saint-Leonard and Montreal-Nord are often mentioned.
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 and the debate is far from being over. Montreal geography facts and controversies about mergers and demergers of not so so long ago could very well start all over again.
Montreal ISLAND Kit
Geography Facts by Rachel Louise Barry