Urban Fold

Abolish Montreal's 'Little Kingdoms'

Owing to political fragmentation and 20 different mayors, the Canadian city of Montreal is becoming increasingly dysfunctional and must be simplified, writes Lysiane Gagnon.

"How many mayors does a city with 1.8 million people need? In Montreal, no fewer than 20."

"Mayor Gérald Tremblay chairs city council. Nineteen "smaller" mayors chair the conseils d'arrondissements; these municipal districts have become responsible for zoning, housing, parks, street maintenance and so on. The arrondissements often collide with the central administration, and some of the mayors, riding on their inflated status, behave like feudal lords."

"Montreal [is] divided...into 'arrondissements' (some carved out of the main city, and others corresponding to the former suburban municipalities) [to which are] delegated massive powers. Montreal was stuck with 19 cities within the city."

"More and more, Montrealers complain about the disintegration of services. They don't even know who to blame because there is no tangible political accountability."

"The absurdity of the system...was especially obvious in the wake of two consecutive snowstorms that descended on the metropolitan area before Christmas. Since boroughs are responsible for snow removal, the clearing operations varied from one district to another."

"In Côte-des-Neiges, the streets surrounding two hospitals were still clogged days after the snowfall, while the quiet residential streets of Rosemont were thoroughly clean. The worst was in Ville-Marie. Sherbrooke, Montreal's major east-west artery, was still lined with giant snowbanks when the second snowfall hit. On Ste-Catherine, Montreal's major commercial street, the Ville-Marie workers never managed to spray salt or sand on sidewalks covered with black ice. "It was the worst performance in memory," wrote Gazette city columnist Henry Aubin, who believes that snow clearance, like firefighting and policing, should be subject to a unified policy."

"Actually, Montreal is ready for more: The city should be recentralized and its little kingdoms abolished."

Full Story: Down with Montreal's 19 kingdoms

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