Participatory Democracy Forum: What future for Montréal?

While representative democracy seems to be in crisis, direct democracy at the local and regional level is currently fast-growing. A variety of new mechanisms allow citizens to participate in political decisions regarding the future of their cities. Whether we are talking about public consultations, co-design, online participation or participatory budgeting, the tools are various and becoming increasingly popular in many cities around the world. One of the biggest challenges is to ensure that these participatory procedures truly contribute in strengthening the citizen’s power over decision-making. What is the state of the art of participatory democracy in Montreal? How are other cities strengthening local democracy? What innovations can be done to improve citizen power in shaping their cities? The forum will seek to portray current challenges of public participation while exploring opportunities to strengthen local democracy.

Two days of conferences, panels and collective discussions will explore the various challenges facing public participation in our cities. Based on theoretical and practical basis, the forum will gather community groups, citizens, academics, professionals and state officials from Montreal and beyond to discuss opportunities of democratizing the city.


Venue: Faculty of planning, University of Montreal

Amphithéatre 1120


Friday 21 sept.  


6:00 – 7:00 PM

Welcome and Exhibition

“The Faces of Citizen Participation in Montreal”, City of Montreal

Presentation and projects, Office of Public Consultation of Montreal

Presentation and projects, Coalition des Tables de Quartier

Interactive map of spaces of public participation in Montreal, IPAM


7:00 – 9:00 PM

Welcome note

Dimitri Roussopoulos/ President, IPAM

Laurence Lavigne Lalonde/ Responsible for transparency, democracy, governance and citizenship, City of Montreal


Conference: Citizen Power and Municipalism


Borja Prieto / Directorate-General of Citizen Participation Madrid City Council

Thomas Angotti / Director of Hunter College for Community Planning and Development, New-York


Saturday 22 sept.


10:00 – 11:30 AM

Panel 1: The Montreal model of Participation


Dominique Ollivier / President, Office of public consultation of Montreal (OCPM)

Johanne Savard/  Ombudsman of the City of Montreal

Pierre Hamel/ Professor, sociology, University of Montreal

Yves Bellavance/  Coordinator, Coalition des tables de quartier

Amanda Flety/ Coordinator, Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Barcelona


Moderator: Donald Cuccioletta / Historian, author and lecturer at University of Quebec in Montreal


1:00 – 2:30 PM

Panel 2: Participatory Planning Tools


Gabrielle Immarigeon/ Convercité

Christophe Abrassart/  Researcher at Lab Ville Prospective, in charge of the project Créer penser l’urbain

Sarah Legouy/  Citizen participation service, City of Paris

Véronique Fournier/ Urban ecology centre Montreal

Maxime Sauvetre/ Cap-collectif, Paris

Jurgen Hoogendoorn/ Policy advisor, City of Amsterdam


Moderator: Louise Roy/ IPAM,  Previous president of Office of public consultation of Montreal


Panel 3: Citizen Initiatives


Karine Triollet/ Action gardien

Claudette Demers Godley/ Communauté Saint-Urbain

Bertrand Fousse/ Solon-collectif

Dilan Erkisi/ Tempelhofer Feld, Berlin (to be confirmed)


Moderator: Jonathan Durand Folco/ IPAM


4:40 – 5:30 PM

Closing Discussion with the public: What future for Montreal?

Anne Kettenbeil/ IPAM

Marie-Odile Trépanier/ IPAM

Laurence Lavigne Lalonde/ City of Montreal


Moderator: Dimitri Roussopoulos/ IPAM


Commentary by IPAM on the draft regulation on public participation in urban planning and development

In December 2017, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy sought comments on the draft regulation on public participation in planning and development. Here is the Commentary of our board of directors, submitted to the ministry December 30, 2017.


Click here to download the Commentary.

(Translate this document for IPAM)

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 Bill 121

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.


Click here to download the Brief.

(Translate this document for IPAM)

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.


Click here to download the Brief.

(Translate this document for IPAM)

Montréal-Métropole: Please share your ideas!

Thank you to everyone who attended our public forum held on November 30 at the Canadian Center for Architecture, as well as our January 30 roundtable at Rayside-Labossière. These two major events underscored the need for public debates as such, considering the potential impact of Bills 121 and 122. In addition, the strong social engagement in these discussions demonstrates the importance of these topics to the public and, consequently, the attention and consideration that provincial and municipal governments should give to it.

We ask you to share some of your ideas and/or concerns, since IPAM is committed to compiling a brief that could eventually be presented to the parliamentary committees on urban planning of the City of Montreal.

Feel free to send us your comments by email at or on our Facebook page:

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

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): or contact 514-844-4076 or 514-349-1686

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

Who Rules the Road? A public meeting on the issue of security for pedestrians and cyclists

Who rules the road?

A public meeting on the issue of safety for cyclists and pedestrians

In the month of August, a cyclist tragically lost her life in an accident involving a truck on a Montreal road. These types of tragedies will persist in the absence of adequate road safety measures. We live in a city dominated by cars and trucks with thousands of new cars on Montreal streets annually.

What do we want? A city that is safe, healthy, and accessible. There are ways to build such a city. But is enough being done? Come to our public meeting in order to voice your concerns and hear from our panelists on the issue of transportation safety in the city!

5 October: Metropolitan Agora 2015 – ‘Building Together the Future of Greater Montreal’

The next Metropolitan Agora (link only in French) will be held Monday, 5th October 2015 with the theme: ‘Building Together the Future of Greater Montreal’. The establishment of a Metropolitan Agora is one of the monitoring measures included in the Metropolitan Plan of Urban Planning and Development (PMAD). The participation, through the Metropolitan Agora, of civil society in the follow-up to PMAD is a new element as compared to usual practices in urban planning.

Habitat 3: Montréal Thematic Meeting on Metropolitan Areas

The Montréal Thematic Meeting on Metropolitan Areas will be held in preparation for the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) to be held in Quito in 2016. On October 6 and 7, 2015, more than 500 stakeholders of the international community will gather in Montréal to discuss ‘The New Urban Agenda for the 21st Century’ and to adopt the Montréal Declaration on Metropolitan Areas.