Uniting the Ville de Montreal to the 27 independent municipalities of what was once called the Montreal Urban Community (MUC) to form one megacity was a dream once cherished by some of our municipal and provincal elected officials.
Montréal and Québec once shared the same idea and the same goal.
The idea of uniting the Island of Montreal, that is the City of Montreal and its cities and districts under one unique Ville de Montreal was first proposed by Jean Drapeau, mayor of Montreal in the 1960s.
Mayor Drapeau (Parti civique) was was very much in favor of such a merger but his proposition was strongly opposed by many residents and some elected officials.
In 2001, Lucien Bouchard of the Parti Quebecois (PQ) announced a plan to merge all the cities and districts of the Island of Montreal and to create one large municipality.
His plan was to merge the 28 municipalities of the Island of Montreal into one “mega-city” divided into 27 boroughs.
Pierre Bourque (Vision Montréal) endorsed the unsuccessful attempt proposed by Lucien Bouchard and, unfortunately, it cost him his 2001 election as mayor of Ville de Montreal.
The next year, in 2002, Bernard Landry of the Parti Québécois (PQ) forcibly merged all the cities on the Island of Montreal into one single municipality.
A decision that was partially reversed by Jean Charest of the Parti Liberal du Quebec (PLQ) in 2006.
Nevertheless, in 2002 the entire Island of Montreal and several of its remote islands were merged into one megacity.
The former City of Montreal and a total of 27 suburbs were merged into several boroughs named after their former cities or districts.
During the same time, Gérald Tremblay (Union Montreal) and his administration decentralized the megacity by giving more power to the boroughs and to their respective mayors and other elected officials.
During the 2003 provincial elections, Jean Charest of the winning Parti Libéral Québécois (PLQ) promised to submit each borough and each merger to a referendum.
In 2004 some of the former cities voted to demerge from the mega Ville de Montreal and to regain their municipal status.
The demergers came into effect in 2006 and the previously independent municipalities regained most of their independence but not all the powers they once had.
Nowadays, the Island of Montreal is composed of 16 municipalities, that is the City of Montreal and 15 recreated cities.
Yet, the 15 independent cities of today do not have as many powers as they had before the merger in 2002.
Nowadays, the City of Montreal has the upper hand over the entire Island of Montreal and many powers are now under the Montreal Agglomeration Council.
The debate regarding a new municipal amalgamation or a new dissolution or the continuation of the Island of Montreal as it is today could resurface any day.
This part of today in history of the Montreal Island could repeat itself any day. Une île, une ville, one island, one city could resurface any day although a substantial financial impact would definitely be required.
The possibility of merging boroughs and cities, of reducing the number of elected officials and of adjusting boundaries is still open to discussion by many 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 that they have not resulted in any economies of scale.
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, that the debate is far from being over and that history could repeat itself.
Ville de Montreal by Rachel Louise Barry