Sustainable Montreal plan, Canada
Sustainable Montreal plan, Canada - ©By Chicoutimi (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Sustainable Montreal plan

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Main actors

City Government, Private Sector, NGO / Philanthropy, Community / Citizen Group

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Project area

Metropolitan Area

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Ongoing since 2005/06

The Sustainable Montreal plan provides a shared framework and action plan for citizens, local business and partner organizations to build long-term sustainability for the city.

The Sustainable Montreal plan 2016-2020 was realized by a collaborative working process involving more than two hundred partner organizations and representatives from central and local municipal administrations. The plan includes lessons learned from the implementation of two previous plans implemented by the city administration in 2005-2010 and 2010-2015.

Sustainable Montreal 2016–2020 clearly defines priorities for the city administration and partner organizations to achieve the goals outlined in the plan.

These include:

  • reducing GHG emissions and dependence on fossil fuels
  • greening the city by increasing biodiversity and ensuring the sustainability of resources
  • providing access to sustainable and healthy neighborhoods,
  • facilitating the transition to a green, circular and responsible economy,

The City of Montreal is responsible for coordinating the development, monitoring the implementation and evaluating the effectiveness of the measures outlined in the plan.

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Montreal, Canada

Size and population development
Montréal is the most populous city in the province of Quebec, with an approximate population of 2 million people as of 2017. Greater Montréal has more than 4 million people, composed of 16.9 percent children, and 16.4 percent adults over 65 years of age; with 2 million males and 2.09 million females. The 2030 scenario supposes that the city will become the home of 5.2 million people.

Population composition
2.2 million people in Montréal claim to speak both French and English, which is in itself a curious figure. However, more intriguing still is that more than 60,000 people in the Metropolitan area did not know how to speak either of the official languages. These include Aboriginal languages like Inuit and Cree-montaignais, but also non-Aboriginal languages like Afroasiatic ones (e.g. Creole, Yiddish) and Indo-European (e.g. Slavic variations, German). Minority populations comprise together over half a million inhabitants in the Metropolitan area of Montréal, and natives have been registered as approximately 42,000 people.

Main functions
Montréal is the most populous municipality in the Canadian province of Quebec and the second most populous municipality in Canada. The city is located in the southwest of Quebec and covers most of the Island of Montreal at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. French is the city’s official language and is the language spoken at home by 49.8% of the city’s population, it is the second largest primarily French speaking city in the world, following Paris. Named after the three peak mount that stands in the middle of the city—“Mount Royal”—a site formally occupied by an indigenous village called Hochelaga. After the conquest, a French fur trading post grew into a city across the 1600s. Today, Montréal is a major tourist city and is recognised as a hub for technology research and development and the creative industries.

Main industries / business
After Toronto, Montréal is the biggest economy in Canada. The city of Montréal identifies as its principal and developing industries the following: aerospace, food, cinema and television, finance, fashion and clothing, life sciences (research and innovation), information technologies, transport and logistics. Certainly, Montréal excels in the area of aeronautics and technology development, as many of the world’s cutting-edge companies have set their headquarters there. Among the more famous companies installed in the city include the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, the production company Alliance Films, and the videogame company Ubisoft. It has also gathered the attention of artificial intelligence developers, such as Facebook AI Research, Microsoft Research, Google Brain, DeepMind, etc. The Port of Montréal, another of Quebec’s economic features, located inland, transacts 26 million tonnes every year. Montréal is also considered a key cultural capital. It has strong film, television and theatre industries, with for example Cirque du Soleil being headquartered in this city. Also, its music scene has impacted worldwide through festivals such as the Montréal International Jazz Festival, the largest in the world. Another feature of Montréal is its ice hockey scene, with the local team “Montréal Canadiens” as a central participant of the NHL.

Sources for city budget
The budget of the city is elaborated by the mairesse and her executive committee for approval by the rest of the municipal council. It must include expenditure that relates to public security, subvention programmes for real estate and urbanization projects, the environment, and a three-year government plan.

Political structure
The government of Montréal is led by a mayor, the councils of the boroughs and the city council, with the municipal council being made up of 65 elected officials. The mayor, Valérie Plante, is the first woman to occupy the role since the founding of the city, and she is equal to the other 64 members of the council. In political matters, the mayor stands as the head of the executive committee, which she nominates, and is in charge of deciding local competencies, services relevant to the urban agglomeration of the île de Montréal (the island that comprehends the city as well as the surrounding suburbs), and the generation of documents that relate to the city budget and its rules. The opposition party (the second runner-up) has an active role of watchdog functions and freedom of expression regarding the decisions taken by the mayor.

Administrative structure
The municipal council is also in charge of the budget of Montréal. This includes the urban agglomeration of the île de Montréal: that is, its 19 arrondisements or boroughs and 15 banlieues or suburban areas. Each of the boroughs has a mayor, elected by the local citizens. They and the councils of the boroughs are tasked with matters regarding local urbanism, culture, parks and recreation, community development, human resources, housing, etc.

Through the Sustainable Montreal Plan 2016-2020, the city has confirmed its committment to making sustainable development the basis on which the city should grow. The Plan is a continuation of the approach initiateed by Montrea’s First Strategic Plan for Sustainable Development 2005-2009 and is complementary to Montreal’s Corportate Sustainable Development Plan 2010-2015.

Under the leadership of the municipal administration, a number of city departments and partner organizations have worked together to develop the plan. Partner organizations have signed the „Statement of principle of the Montréal community on sustainable development“ and committed to:

  • work with the municipal government to make Montreal a sustainable city;
  • execute approximately 10 initiatives from the Plan;
  • promote initiatives of the Plan to other organizations and/or the public;
  • report on progress made on their own initiatives;
  • publish a statement of committment on their website;
  • encourage at least one other business to become a partner in the Plan.

The City of Montreal’s approach to sustainable development is the shared commitment of the city and partner organizations to acheive practical and measureable initiatives.

Sustainable Montreal 2016 – 2020 includes four intervention priorities and a “mobilization” component:

Priority 1 - Reducing GHG emissions and dependence on fossil fuels

In 2015 at COP21, the City of Montreal signed the Paris Declaration on climate change and committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. This strengthens the city-wide objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020 (based on 1990 emission levels).

Priority 2 – Greening the city, enhancing biodiversity and ensuring the sustainability of resources

Priority 3 - Ensuring access to sustainable and healthy neighborhoods

The City of Montreal promotes innovative urban practices that support social cohesion, a sense of belonging among citizens, the adoption of healthy lifestyles and the emergence of connected neighborhoods. The plan also encourages citizen participation and provides equitable access to cultural, sporting and leisure facilities in the city.

Priority 4 – Supporting the transition to a green, circular and responsible economy


Sustainable Montreal invites all stakeholders (businesses, institutions, not-for-profit organizations and citizens) to include the principles of sustainable development in their own plans, policies and programs.

Sustainable Montreal 2016-2020 includes several action plans derived from the four strategic priorities that will be implemented by different stakeholders.

An action plan has been developed for partner organizations. It states 20 actions to be implemented by 2020. These actions have been defined by all stakeholders involved in the development of the plan. These priority actions reflect their interests and the challenges they face in their own environment.

Another action plan is for the municipal administration. The 20 actions identified are complementary to the City of Montréal's plans and policies that are currently in development, implementation or review. For each action, the reference situation, as well as the target, are described.

In addition to the municipal and partner organizations plans, local administrations (districts of Montreal) have also been invited to develop their own sustainable development plans under the metropolitan framework of the Sustainable Montreal plan.

Every two years, these local governments will participate in an audit that evaluates the progress achieved on their actions. 

For each one of the four priorities, a mobilization team has been set up. These teams bring together elected officials as well as business and community members. Through the implementation of measurable actions, the team creates shared responsibilities between the community and the municipal government for achieving the targets.

Team 1 - Montreal low carbon
Team 2 - Montreal green city
Team 3 - Montreal, places to live
Team 4 - Prosperous and Responsible Montreal

Sustainable development projects on the Faire Montréal platform

Sustainable Montreal 2016-2020 joined the Faire Montréal digital platform to stimulate the development of sustainable development projects. This collaborative space enables partner organizations and other stakeholders to build virtual relationships and capitilze on the synergies that arise from their collaboration.

Sustainable Montreal 2016-2020 partners are invited to launch their own projects on the platform or to contribute to those already operating.

Flagship Development Projects

The City of Montreal will identify flagship development projects and use them to promote good practices.

Montreal Corporate Plan for Sustainable Development

The Corporate Sustainable Development Plan sets an exemple for other stakeholders and encourages them to make sustainable development a key component of their planning.

Every two years, the City of Montreal distributes a report on the achievements of the Montreal Sustainable Development Plan. The report reviews progress made by city departments, local administrations and partner organizations in the implementation of the priority actions in their respective plans. Partner organizations and local administrations can list their achievements using a questionnaire that is sent to them.

The progress reports include:

  • the status of implementation of the actions undertaken by the stakeholders;
  • the adoption of sustainable development plans by local administrations and results achieved;
  • actions undertaken from the Montreal Corporate Plan for Sustainable Development;
  • actions taken by partner organizations to reduce greenhouse gases;
  • advancements made in the field of urban agriculture.

Collaboration between many public and private stakeholders has been a significant factor in the successful development and implementation of the plan.

The City of Montréal is responsible for coordinating the actions carried out by partner organizations and promotes the exchange of expertise and dissemination of good practices among them. The municipality is committed to monitoring and reporting on all actions of the plan.

The City of Montreal has joined the Compact of Mayors, the largest coalition of local leaders committed to reducing and monitoring GHG emissions and climate change adaptation.

Montreal is a member of the National Zero Waste Council (NZWC), a Canadian organization that brings together citizens, government agencies, businesses, industries and the community sector to advocate zero waste.

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Camille Toggenburger
Berlin, Germany

Camille Toggenburger

Individual | Community and Content Manager | urban sustainability exchange

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