It is with great enthusiasm and pride that the Office de consultation publique de Montréal presents its report for 2015, a year marked by revitalization and renewal.
Over the course of the year, the executive committee and city council entrusted us with five mandates to consult Montrealers: a special planning program (SPP) for the Quartier des gares; two real estate projects in the boroughs of Ville-Marie and LaSalle; a statement ensuring consistency between the Montréal Master Plan and the development plan adopted in the spring by the agglomeration council; and, last but not least, a mandate on reducing Montrealers’ dependence on fossil energies.
The projects provided opportunities to try out new approaches, such as auto-organized activities and citizens’ debates, to reach a greater number of participants. We used various tools to support those innovations, including online questionnaires, 3D viewing and an online participation platform. Combining those various methods generated major successes in citizen participation, particularly with respect to the first consultation phase on reducing dependence on fossil energies, where more than 1000 people expressed their opinions on the subject.
It is important to note that those methods are not intended to replace traditional Office methodology. Rather, they are complementary steps that allow an increasing number of citizens to become informed, and to debate and participate. After more than 13 years in existence, we believe that it is essential to make our processes even more accessible and easier to use. In parallel with existing tools, we are seeking to diversify our methods in order to include groups that are harder to reach, such as immigrant citizens and vulnerable people, less comfortable with the written word or living in precarious situations. We seek to ensure that diverse points of view are always heard from all parties concerned to make our discussions more inclusive, participatory, fair and enlightening, with a view to facilitating the decision-making process of elected officials.
Sharing experiences: the main focus of our work plan
Over the years, we have both witnessed and taken part in the evolution of democratic life and, more particularly, in the transformation of consultation practices in Montréal. The expertise and credibility of the Office now extends far beyond the cases prescribed in the Charter. We have sought to share our expertise, largely through the organization of various events. The sharing of good practices, constant discussion and subsequent networking allow us to properly fulfil our role of accompanying and supporting Montréal officials who organize consultation activities that fall to us under section 83 of the Charter.
As modes of interaction are evolving, in 2015 we paid particular attention to documenting our practices and analyzing them with a singular purpose in mind: to guarantee the mechanisms’ credibility and shape them into inclusive debating tools.
To that end, we developed, with the Bureau de la Présidence du Conseil, training sessions for elected officials and municipal bodies responsible for consultations at various levels. Those activities, in which more than one-third of city council members participated, were a huge success.
The discussion day Consultation, concertation et codesign : L’art de planifier avec les communautés locales [Consultation, consensus-building and co-construction: The art of planning with local communities], held before a packed hall last April, is another good example of the spirit that drives us. The ensuing findings speak volumes: the articulation of what constitutes the general interest, the common good, calls for it to be increasingly determined with the population, and no longer only in its name. Cases are becoming more complex. The means of bringing forth and confronting ideas, contributions and demands are constantly multiplying and reinventing themselves. In that sense, it is important that the Office keep abreast of best practices to ensure that new methods do not generate new social fractures.
Feedback: an essential element of the consultation cycle
In a city where debates are enlivened by the number of citizens taking part in them and by the quality of their contributions, it is important to periodically evaluate and review the uses made of public consultation and the means allocated to it in order to ensure and promote its continuity.
In preparing the report on citizen participation and questions posed to the Office, we came to realize that it was no longer enough for us to merely enlist the participation of citizens and to report our findings. In order to restore the citizens’ confidence in their democratic bodies, they must be informed of how their opinions are used and what recommendations are made as a result of them.
We are pleased to note that an ever increasing number of boroughs are spontaneously providing us with information pertaining to follow-up on Office recommendations, which we post online and would henceforth hope to consider an intrinsic part of the consultation file. In addition to ensuring the mechanism’s credibility, such practices allow prolonged dialogue between citizens and decision makers.
In many respects, Montréal may be considered exemplary owing to the diversity of participatory democracy and the importance accorded to it. However, while tools are multiplying and subjects becoming more complex, the Office’s expertise could and should be increasingly drawn upon, both to support upstream and major-project-development mandates, policy revisions, and innovative decision-building activities, and to update documents such as Montréal’s Public Consultation and Participation Policy and the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, which are the cornerstones of our participatory model. There will be no shortage of opportunities over the next few years, and we will happily continue to help to make our metropolis a living laboratory of participation placing citizens at the heart of its processes.
Mission and mandate
of the Office
The mission of the Office de consultation publique de Montréal, created under section 75 of the Charter of Ville de Montréal, is to carry out public consultation mandates with regard to land-use planning and development matters under municipal jurisdiction, and on all projects designated by the city council or executive committee.
The Office de consultation publique de Montréal, in operation since September 2002, is an independent organization whose members are neither elected officials nor municipal employees. It receives its mandates from the city council or executive committee.
Completion of two ongoing projects
The first involved the establishment of a closed-building composting facility in the borough of Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles. The new site in question is located north-east of the intersection of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Boulevard and the Metropolitan Boulevard (Highway 40), in an industrial sector.
This consultation became necessary following the Montréal administration’s decision to withdraw its approval for the establishment of a composting centre on the site of the Saint-Michel environmental complex, located in the northern sector. It was therefore proposed that it be relocated to the eastern sector, on the territory of the borough of Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles.
The second is the development and renewal of the Plateau Est employment sector. The Plateau Est had developed in the past around the operations of the Angus workshops, the east end slaughterhouses, the manufacturing industry and the Cadbury Company, in connection with the presence of the Canadian Pacific railway tracks. Over the years, the sector changed. Many companies closed, some moved, and some of the buildings were repurposed.
Running along the railway tracks, the area now comprises more than 300 companies providing almost 4500 jobs, mostly in the service industry. It also includes residential zones.
Two files were undertaken and completed in 2015
The first involved the realization of a real estate project, the Carré des Arts, located north of the old Saint-Jacques market, for which a consultation was held last spring.
The project consisted in expanding the old church, built in 1924 and located to the north of the Saint-Jacques market, in the Centre-Sud neighbourhood. The building, converted into commercial spaces in the mid-20th century, would comprise, once expanded, some 33 housing units as well as commercial premises on five floors. Fifteen underground parking spaces would be constructed. Elements of the old church would also be preserved and integrated into the new building, whose main entrance would be located on Square-Amherst Street.
After examining the project, the commission found that the Carré des Arts project could play a significant role in consolidating and developing an urban core around the Saint-Jacques market. However, to ensure the harmonious integration of any new project within the area, it believes that it is important to respect the principle of the market’s predominance over its immediate environment and to ensure the preservation of views of the market.
The second file relates to a broader planning exercise: the special planning program (SPP) for the Quartier des gares. The project involves an urban requalification process, comprising 11 strategic objectives. Five of those objectives pertain to the redevelopment of public property, and three to the development and quality of private real estate projects. The last three objectives concern the improvement of public transit as a lever to ensuring a better quality of life for the neighbourhood’s residents, workers, students and visitors.
The commission found the special planning program proposed by the borough to be a timely and important gesture that was received rather favourably by consultation participants. The proposed redevelopment of public property that is the basis for the submitted project is in line with citizens’ expectations and should have visible and positive spinoffs in the neighbourhood in the very short term. The commission believes that the draft SPP meets a need and should be adopted quickly, taking into account certain recommendations.
Examination of three projects that will be concluded in 2016
The first one relates to a draft by-law amending the Master Plan to bring it into conformity with the Schéma d’aménagement de l’agglomération de Montréal.
The Montréal agglomeration council adopted its development plan last spring, and the Act respecting land use planning and development provides that the agglomeration’s municipalities must ensure that their master plans are in conformity with it.
The legal necessity of bringing the Montréal Master Plan into conformity with the agglomeration’s development plan is the basis for this consultation. It is therefore not an exercise aimed at examining amendments as such to the Master Plan. The comprehensive revision of the Master Plan, which will also be submitted to the Office, should take place next year.
The second file concerns a real estate project for the Wanklyn Block in the borough of LaSalle.
The project requires variances to the Zoning By-law of the LaSalle borough, notably with respect to the construction and occupation of a residential complex and the development of a park. The By-law is not subject to approval by referendum.
Located on a former industrial lot that has been vacant for many years, in the future neighbourhood of the LaSalle borough station, the Wanklyn Block project involves the construction of 786 housing units, including 119 community housing units, 230 condo units associated with the access to property program, and 437 rental or joint-ownership units. The proposed buildings would be spread out around a central park.
Lastly, the third file concerns a very important issue: Montrealers’ dependence on fossil energies. On that occasion, the Office proposed to Montrealers an innovative process combining traditional consultation methods and collaborative technologies.
It was in the wake of requests by a coalition of committed citizens seeking to take advantage of the attention surrounding the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), scheduled for the end of November in Paris, that the City asked the OCPM to hold a public consultation on this issue.
The Office then began a process offering everyone user-friendly means to examine their individual and collective choices. Under the theme “Let’s fill up on new energies!” the OCPM relied on the community’s intelligence to identify solutions for Montréal with respect to those issues.
Promoting best practices
A first activity, addressed to Office commissioners, focused on Special Planning Programs (SPP). However, the most comprehensive was public consultation training for municipal elected officials. In partnership with the Bureau de la présidence du conseil, the Office offered, in the spring, a training program on public participation and consultation for Montréal elected officials. The goals of the program were to improve conditions for discussions between elected officials and citizens, to strengthen the skills required for elected officials in that area, to promote the appropriation of consultation tools at their disposal, and the recognition of the value of the role of elected officials in the practice of participatory democracy.
Toujours dans le domaine de la promotion des meilleures pratiques, l’Office a tenu, le 28 avril, dans le contexte du 100e anniversaire de Montréal-Nord, un colloque de réflexion d’une journée sur le thème : Consultation, concertation et codesign : L’art de planifier avec les communautés locales. Divers ateliers de réflexion et de formation se sont déroulés tout au long de la journée. Nous avons pu aussi compter sur les contributions et les témoignages de la mairesse de Lac-Mégantic, Madame Colette Roy Laroche, qui a relaté l’expérience de participation citoyenne dans le cadre de la reconstruction du centre-ville dévasté de cette ville et de M. Pierre Houssais, Directeur de la Prospective et du Dialogue Public du Grand Lyon, qui a fait état de la réflexion qui a cours dans les services de cette grande ville de France sur ce thème. Plus d’une centaine de citoyens et de représentants de groupes de Montréal-Nord, mais aussi de tous les quartiers de la Ville, ont pris part à cette activité.
35 press releases and media notices
98 oral or written opinions were presented during hearings
38 000 flyers were distributed in areas neighbouring projects
12 public sessions and 24 citizens’ contributory activities
2 331 Montrealers participated in Office consultations
49 250 visits on ocpm.qc.ca
6110 Likes for our Facebook page
144 videos available on our YouTube channel
In 2015, the Office published 8 public notices and advertisements in daily and weekly newspapers and issued 35 press releases and media invitations. Five advertising campaigns on Facebook as well as one radio and one television advertising campaigns were also conducted. In some cases, in addition to the notices, the Office also sends special invitations to citizens and organizations directly concerned by the ongoing consultation project.
Usually, the Office distributes information flyers announcing the consultation to citizens that will be affected by a given project. Depending on the consultation, the distribution may cover between 1500 and 40,000 homes. Last year, some 38,000 flyers were distributed in sectors neighbouring projects that were the subject of consultations. Flyers and posters were also distributed to concerned organizations and in Ville de Montréal service points.
The OCPM Web site continues to regularly inform citizens and groups interested in public consultations. In 2015, almost 29,500 people visited Web pages on our site, for a total of almost 49,250 visits. The year 2015 was a year of reflection and work for the Office in terms of the future of our Web site. Test groups were organized with site users and citizens who had never visited us in order to determine needs and priorities with a view to redesigning the Web site in early 2016. Those activities established the necessity of offering a more accessible and user-friendly site, better adapted to the new realities of users visiting the site from a mobile device (telephone or tablet), who account for 20% of visits to the site.
The social networks are playing an ever greater role in terms of traffic on the Office Web site, and now represent 15%, more than double the 2014 figure of 6%. Facebook is still the majority player, ahead of Twitter and LinkedIn, increasing its share to 90% of the traffic coming from social networks.
The Office is increasingly using social networks to promote its activities with Montrealers. We regularly use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr. However, Facebook is the one that stands out, owing to its popularity and the effectiveness of our interactions with the community on that network. The number of subscribers to our page has grown by more than 1000 people this year, reaching 6,110 by the end of 2015. Over 20,000 people have interacted with our page, while the total reach of our publications is approximately 1.5M for 2015, i.e. the number of people who saw any type of content associated with our page (the last two statistics compile unique users/day).
In April 2015, we proposed a new teaching tool: THE Guide to the MASTER PLAN, which was very well received on our social networks with a number of Likes and Shares unprecedented for that type of publication. The English and French versions are available at ocpm.qc.ca/publications. The guide is also available in print.
Wishing to remain at the forefront of the citizen consultation experience, in 2015, for the first time, the Office tried out a real online consultation platform with vertMtl.org, as part of the consultation on reducing Montreal’s dependence on fossil energies. The digital tool, a veritable opinion hub, allowed citizens to interact around the proposals, to affirm their agreement or disagreement, to support arguments and to provide references. It received almost 4,000 unique visitors in 2015. Launched on October 29, the online consultation received more than 4,000 interventions (new proposals and support for listed proposals) before the end of the year. The consultation continues in 2016.
As part of the consultation on reducing Montreal’s dependence on fossil energies, an online consultation platform allowing discussions was used for the first time at the OCPM to gather suggestions from a broader public on ways of reducing our dependence on fossil energies.
At the same time, kits allowing auto-organized consultation workshops were designed and made available. The new tool aims to reduce obstacles to participation. Thus, groups of all sizes can discuss the themes of the consultation from their own activity centres. The results are then integrated into the online consultation platform.
As part of the consultations on the Carré des Arts and Quartier des gares SPP projects, models of 3D environments were created to allow participants to visualize the proposed changes. For the first time, the 3D models were presented at the information sessions. For the project involving the SPP for the Quartier des gares, the 3D models made it possible to view the numerous height and density changes authorized for the sector, while for the Carré des Arts project, they showed the impacts of the proposed project on surrounding residences.
Innovative consultation techniques using 3D models and augmented reality were also employed during the consultation on the Plateau Est employment sector for the public activities held in 2014 (please see the 2014 annual report for more information).
The Office was also present at the annual meeting of the International Observatory on Participatory Democracy (IOPD) in Madrid. On that occasion, Office president Dominique Ollivier presented the consultation model of the Office and, more specifically, advances involving the use of new technologies in our consultation practices. The IOPD is one of the only international networks bringing together municipal players involved in citizen participation.
In the same fashion, the Office was represented at the Conference of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2). On that occasion, the president, accompanied by Mr. Jimmy Paquet-Cormier, a consultant in innovation, new technologies and communications for the Office, made a presentation on the theme “The art of combining physical and digital public participation”.
In the month of March, Ms. Ollivier made a short trip to Paris and Strasbourg to meet with various stakeholders. The mission enabled her to renew ties with the Commission nationale du débat public (CNDP) and its president, Mr. Christian Leyrit. The discussions between the CNDP and the Office enabled the OCPM to be given the mandate to organize Montréal’s participation in the World Wide Views on Climate and Energy event, held on June 6, in preparation for the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) that took place in December.
Her visit also provided the president with an opportunity to meet the directors of “Décider ensemble,” an association for reflection on citizen participation, headed by Mr. Bertrand Pancher, elected member for Meuse.
In September, Ms. Ollivier also traveled to Washington to meet new partners with whom the Office had had little previous contact. Several promising meetings were held, including discussions with representatives of the World Bank, the State Department, and the Government of the District of Columbia.
Throughout the year, the Office is also invited to present its role and activities to various groups. Firstly, to the committee of the Présidence du conseil municipal, before which the Office president presents the report of activities and discusses the work of the OCPM and its future orientations with members of the committee. Meetings are also held with a variety of groups: students and groups of citizens interested in public consultation, in several boroughs, and external groups.
In 2015, the Office was allocated a budget of $1.8 million, an amount that has remained unchanged since 2003. This amount is meant to cover all budgetary items: the remuneration of commissioners and permanent staff; the fees of analysts/researchers and other professional resources required to hold public consultations; the publication of public notices; the printing of commission reports; rent for the offices; and general administrative expenses.
The amount was sufficient to carry out all of the mandates and activities of the Office in 2015. That was only possible because the Office’s rent for 2015, as in 2014, was paid by the central city, a contribution amounting to $232,000. That will no longer be the case in 2016. The funds allocated to the Office have therefore been adjusted accordingly.
The OCPM offices are located at 1550 Metcalfe Street, on the 14th floor. In addition to spaces for its secretarial staff, the Office also has rooms for preparatory meetings for consultations and for public hearings.
The Office team comprises commissioners appointed by city council, administrative staff, and external collaborators hired on a contractual basis. The latter are responsible for preparing the consultations and supporting the commissioners in their work.
In September 2014, the city council appointed Ms. Dominique Ollivier as president of the Office for a four-year term. On the recommendation of the Office president, a number of part-time commissioners are appointed by city council to hold consultations. The latter cannot work as City employees or as municipal elected officials.
The commissioners are responsible for chairing the public consultations and for producing a report to city council in which they make any recommendations they deem appropriate.
Ad hoc commissioners in 2015
Maryse Alcindor, Isabelle Beaulieu, Bruno Bergeron, Nicole Boily, Nicole Brodeur, Jean Burton, Jean Caouette, Pierre-Constantin Charles, Viateur Chénard, Irène Cinq-Mars, Alain Duhamel, Habib El-Hage, Ariane Émond, Judy Gold, Michel Hamelin, Peter Jacobs, Danielle Landry, Hélène Laperrière, Marie Leahey, Gaétan Lebeau, Renée Lescop, Hélène Morais, Jean Paré, Michel Séguin, Luba Serge, Francine Simard, Joël Thibert, Nicole Valois, Arlindo Vieira, Joshua Wolfe.
To assist the commissioners in preparing for and holding the consultations and in drafting their reports, the Office has established an administrative structure.
The Office’s now smaller general secretariat is composed of a secretary general, Mr. Luc Doray, supported by a small team of employees. Mr. Doray is a permanent employee of the Ville de Montréal, assigned to the OCPM by the executive committee in the fall of 2002. Contract employees are also hired as needed. The Charter of Ville de Montréal stipulates that Office employees are not employed by the City, but that the city council may assign any employee it designates to the functions of the Office (section 80).
The Office depends on the assistance of a loyal network of collaborators to carry out its mandate. To help citizens and commissioners to understand the projects and relevant issues, the Office relies on the support and experience of borough and central department employees, professionals, officers and elected officials.
Furthermore, a good number of external resources have put their knowledge and expertise at our disposal. Without their collaboration, the Office would have been unable to disseminate relevant information to citizens with a view to gathering their opinions on projects submitted for public consultation.
Employees and collaborators in 2015
Laurent Maurice Lafontant
Michael J. Simkin
Legal deposit - Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec, 2016
Legal deposit – Library and Archives Canada, 2016
ISBN 978-2-924002-81-0 (Print)
ISBN 978-2-924002-82-7 (PDF)
Electronic version available at: www.ocpm.qc.ca
Version française papier disponible sur demande
Version française PDF disponible sur le site Internet
The Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM) would like to thank all of its collaborators who contributed to the promotion of Office activities in 2015.
The OCPM would also like to take this opportunity to thank the groups, organizations, citizens, civil servants and developers who participated in the various public consultations.
The Office owes the success of its public consultations to the involvement of borough and central department employees, professionals, management personnel and elected officials, who gave their help and expertise to help citizens and commissioners to understand the projects and issues involved.
Without everyone’s good will and co-operation, the OCPM’s public consultations would not have achieved their primary goal of providing Montrealers with pertinent information and data on the various projects, with a view to gathering their opinions and comments.