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What future for public participation in Montreal?

Translation of the open letter that appeared in the newspaper Le Devoir, October 28, 2017:

The issue of participatory democracy deserves to be addressed during this election campaign in Montreal following the adoption of Bill 122 last June recognizing that municipalities are local governments.

In the area of urban planning, the Bill allows municipalities to evade referendum approval of zoning changes as long as they adopt alternatives that encourage public participation. Citizen participation is all the more important in this area because many interests revolve around urban projects—be they those of promoters, citizens or the entire community. In order for elected officials to mediate in an informed manner, all these interests must be heard and taken into account. What is the position of candidates regarding local democracy and citizen participation in local decisions?

To be exempt from the referendum approval procedure, a municipality will have to adopt a public participation policy. The Bill foresees that a ministerial regulation will frame the formulation of these policies, starting from a series of objectives stated in the Bill, such as the transparency of the process, the consultation upstream, complete and comprehensible information, a real capacity of the citizens to influence the outcome, the active presence of elected representatives, sufficient time, the expression of all the points of view, and the accountability of the process. The minister had set up a working group to examine these points and to guide his reflections in the preparation of his regulations. The group’s report clarifies the concepts but remains vague about the guidelines and seeks instead to give the municipalities as much room to manoeuvre as possible. It must be admitted, it is true, that municipalities vary considerably from one another and that the common denominators are not simple. The report does, however, contain several headings on which one could expect the municipalities to make commitments, for example, the objects of participation, the means of communication, the deadlines, the credibility of the processes, their accessibility to all citizens, and the impartiality of the steps. However, it does not aim at mandatory minimum content. It does not intend to impose, for example, an independent hearing for major projects, or a citizen’s right of initiative. Thus, citizens may have to rely mainly on municipalities to design their citizen participation policies. The proposed MAMOT public participation by-law should be firmer and less minimalist than the task force report recommends, to better define this controversial issue. Meanwhile, the election period is an opportunity for candidates for municipal positions to clarify their intentions. All municipalities are called to define new ways of integrating public participation into their deliberations. Citizens are entitled to expect formal commitments from them.

The City of Montreal already has a public participation policy, and claims to rely on a powerful mechanism, the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM). However, Bill 122 requires Montreal to review its policy. And for good reason, because the abolition of the referendum will leave gaps and change the dynamics of recourse to the OCPM. It would therefore be necessary to define more precisely the cases that must be submitted to the OCPM. Will all cases currently subject to referendum be automatically referred to the OCPM? Or will simplified formulas be adopted for smaller projects? If so why? Beyond zoning changes, how will this policy improve the participation of citizens in changes to the Master Plan, to specific urban planning programs, to major urban projects?
 
The public participation policy of the City of Montreal dates back to 2005. It should be reviewed in the light of new knowledge concerning, in particular, citizen collaboration, upstream consultation, new rigorous framework mechanisms for public consultation, and accountability. Another major issue: the Bill indicates that Montreal’s public participation policy will concern all of its territory; to what extent will the boroughs be bound by this policy? Finally, considering that Bill 122 requires that the new draft participation policy be submitted to the OCPM, how will future elected officials actively involve the population and civil society in this exercise? More generally, to what extent are the candidates for mayor ready to commit to improve participatory democracy in Montreal?

Board of Directors of the Institute of Policy Alternatives of Montreal

IPAM brief on PL121

March 29, 2017
Members of the Board of Directors of IPAM presented a brief on Bill 121 (An Act to increase the autonomy and powers of Ville de Montréal, the metropolis of Québec). This brief was presented at public hearings of the Committee on Planning and the Public Domain. Speaking on behalf of IPAM: Marie-Odile Trépanier, Louise Roy, and Michel Gariépy, members of the Board of Directors of IPAM, accompanied by Spiro Metaxas.

Mémoire 121-IPAM (available in French)

IPAM brief on Bill 122

February 14, 2017
IPAM presented a brief (link below in French) to the public hearings of the Committee on Planning and the Public Domain on Bill 122 – An Act mainly to recognize that municipalities are local governments and to increase their autonomy and powers.

Key points : sustainable development; the abolition of referendums; strengthen participative governance; requalification zones and policies on information and consultation; and how to improve referenda procedures.

Mémoire 122 – IPAM

Montréal-Métropole: Partagez-nous vos idées // Please share your ideas!

Merci à ceux et celles qui ont assisté à notre grand forum publique qui a eu lieu le 30 novembre dernier au Centre Canadien d’Architecture, ainsi qu’à notre table-ronde du 30 janvier au Rayside-Labossière. Ces deux grands événements ont souligné la nécessité d’organiser des débats publiques comme tels, considérant l’impact potentiel des projets de loi 121 et 122. De plus, l’engagement social fortement présent lors de ces discussions démontre l’importance de ces sujets auprès des citoyens et, conséquemment, l’attention et la considération que les gouvernements provinciaux et municipaux devraient y porter.

Nous vous demandons donc de partagez quelques-unes de vos idées et/ou préoccupations, puisque que l’IPAM s’engage à compiler un mémoire qui pourrait éventuellement être présenté aux commissions parlementaires sur l’aménagement du territoire de la Ville de Montréal.

N’hésitez pas à nous faire part de vos commentaires par courriel, au info@ipamontreal.org ou sur notre page Facebook: www.facebook.com/ipamtl

Montréal métropole: le role de société civile et des citoyens !

L’IPAM vous invite à un échange !

Programme: IPAM Programme Final

Biographie des panélistes: Biographie

Réservez la date pour cet important débat qui aura lieu le 30 novembre 2016 de 13h30 à 18h30 au Centre canadien d’architecture

Montréal métropole, le rôle des citoyens et de la société civile

Le gouvernement du Québec s’apprête à déposer un projet de loi à l’Assemblée nationale sur le statut de la métropole. Ce projet de loi a pour but de conférer de nouveaux pouvoirs à la métropole et permettre à cette dernière d’assumer un plus grand leadership quant au développement de la ville et de la région. Mais comment s’exerceront ces nouveaux pouvoirs? Quel impact auront-ils sur la vie démocratique montréalaise?

Est-il essentiel de mettre en place des nouveaux leviers de contrôle et d’équilibrage pour garantir le fonctionnement démocratique au sein de la ville? Les citoyens et la société civile n’ont-ils pas un rôle important dans ce développement? Comment peuvent-ils y contribuer de façon efficace?  Dans une perspective de gouvernance collaborative, peut-on prendre appui sur les acquis des expériences montréalaises en matière de participation citoyenne et de développement local pour pousser plus loin et innover dans les rapports entre la ville et ses citoyens?  C’est pour réfléchir aux enjeux que  ce nouveau contexte pourrait soulever que nous vous invitons à vous joindre à nous le 30 novembre prochain.

: au Centre canadien d’architecture (CCA), 1920 rue Baile (entre rue du Fort et St-Marc), Montréal

Quand : le mercredi 30 novembre 2016, de 13h30 à 18h30

Comment on s’y rend : le CCA est situé à 6 minutes à pied des stations de métro Georges-Vanier et  Guy-Concordia. Autobus nos. 150, 350, 355, 358, 364, 369. Stationnement limité sur place.

Inscrivez-vous (nom, tél, courriel, organisme) à : ipamevenement@gmail.com

ou contactez le 514-844-4076 ou le 514-349-1686

Contribution volontaire : servira à assumer une partie des dépenses de cet important débat public

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IPAM invites you to its next event!

Event Program: IPAM Event Program

Speakers biographies: Biographies

SAVE THE DATE for this important event taking place on November 30th 2016, from 1:30 pm to 6:30 pm at the Canadian Centre for Architecture

The Metropolis of Montreal: the role of citizens and civil society

The Government of Quebec is ready to publicly introduce a Bill to the National Assembly regarding the status of the Montreal metropolitan area. The Bill will confer more autonomy and powers to the City of Montreal, allowing it to assume a leadership role in development in and around the region. But how exactly will these new powers be exercised? What impact will these new powers have on the democratic process in Montreal?

Are new governing institutions required to maintain the existing democratic functioning of the City? How can citizens and civil society organizations effectively contribute to this new development? With a collaborative governing model, can we better serve the Montreal experience in matters of participation and local governance in order to build a stronger link between the city and its citizens? In light of these questions and issues, we are inviting you to join us for an important discussion on the 30th of November.

Where: Canadian Centre for Architecture, 1920 rue Baile (between du Fort & St-Marc), Montreal

When: Wednesday, November 30th 2016 from 1:30pm to 6:30pm

How to get there: the CCA is a 6 minute walk from Metro Georges-Vanier or Metro Guy-Concordia; or, Buses 150, 350, 355, 358, 364, 369. Limited on-site parking available.

Register now (name, tel., email, organization): ipamevenement@gmail.com or contact 514-844-4076 or 514-349-1686

Voluntary donations: at the door will help contribute to the cost of this important conference

Recent post

What future for public participation in Montreal?

Translation of the open letter that appeared in the newspaper Le Devoir, October 28, 2017:

The issue of participatory democracy deserves to be addressed during this election campaign in Montreal following the adoption of Bill 122 last June recognizing that municipalities are local governments.

In the area of urban planning, the Bill allows municipalities to evade referendum approval of zoning changes as long as they adopt alternatives that encourage public participation. Citizen participation is all the more important in this area because many interests revolve around urban projects—be they those of promoters, citizens or the entire community. In order for elected officials to mediate in an informed manner, all these interests must be heard and taken into account. What is the position of candidates regarding local democracy and citizen participation in local decisions?

To be exempt from the referendum approval procedure, a municipality will have to adopt a public participation policy. The Bill foresees that a ministerial regulation will frame the formulation of these policies, starting from a series of objectives stated in the Bill, such as the transparency of the process, the consultation upstream, complete and comprehensible information, a real capacity of the citizens to influence the outcome, the active presence of elected representatives, sufficient time, the expression of all the points of view, and the accountability of the process. The minister had set up a working group to examine these points and to guide his reflections in the preparation of his regulations. The group’s report clarifies the concepts but remains vague about the guidelines and seeks instead to give the municipalities as much room to manoeuvre as possible. It must be admitted, it is true, that municipalities vary considerably from one another and that the common denominators are not simple. The report does, however, contain several headings on which one could expect the municipalities to make commitments, for example, the objects of participation, the means of communication, the deadlines, the credibility of the processes, their accessibility to all citizens, and the impartiality of the steps. However, it does not aim at mandatory minimum content. It does not intend to impose, for example, an independent hearing for major projects, or a citizen’s right of initiative. Thus, citizens may have to rely mainly on municipalities to design their citizen participation policies. The proposed MAMOT public participation by-law should be firmer and less minimalist than the task force report recommends, to better define this controversial issue. Meanwhile, the election period is an opportunity for candidates for municipal positions to clarify their intentions. All municipalities are called to define new ways of integrating public participation into their deliberations. Citizens are entitled to expect formal commitments from them.

The City of Montreal already has a public participation policy, and claims to rely on a powerful mechanism, the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM). However, Bill 122 requires Montreal to review its policy. And for good reason, because the abolition of the referendum will leave gaps and change the dynamics of recourse to the OCPM. It would therefore be necessary to define more precisely the cases that must be submitted to the OCPM. Will all cases currently subject to referendum be automatically referred to the OCPM? Or will simplified formulas be adopted for smaller projects? If so why? Beyond zoning changes, how will this policy improve the participation of citizens in changes to the Master Plan, to specific urban planning programs, to major urban projects?
 
The public participation policy of the City of Montreal dates back to 2005. It should be reviewed in the light of new knowledge concerning, in particular, citizen collaboration, upstream consultation, new rigorous framework mechanisms for public consultation, and accountability. Another major issue: the Bill indicates that Montreal’s public participation policy will concern all of its territory; to what extent will the boroughs be bound by this policy? Finally, considering that Bill 122 requires that the new draft participation policy be submitted to the OCPM, how will future elected officials actively involve the population and civil society in this exercise? More generally, to what extent are the candidates for mayor ready to commit to improve participatory democracy in Montreal?

Board of Directors of the Institute of Policy Alternatives of Montreal