The citizens are the owners and have lived in their “shoebox” type residence for approximately 20 years.  Their roof is in a bad condition and they must quickly redo all of their roof structure.  They want to take this opportunity to enlarge their residence by adding a second floor.  They file a permit application with the Borough, in February 2015.

The project is submitted to the Urban Planning Committee (Comité consultatif d’urbanisme (CCU)) on August 12, 2015.  The project is supported by a favourable recommendation from the Direction du développement du territoire et des études techniques (DDTET) of the Borough.

Nonetheless, the CCU issues an unfavourable recommendation, suggesting to the Borough Council to reject this project.  According to the CCU, the project would not emphasize the original building (shoebox) and would not retain its trace.  The CCU does not mention that the owners plan to keep the existing façade.  The CCU notes, however, the Borough’s desire to preserve “boom town” and “shoebox” type buildings; it also recommends that the DDTET should make an inventory of these types of buildings and elaborate more specific criteria to ensure their enhancement.

Based on information from the CCU, the Borough administration later informs the citizens that if they added a second floor, set back from the façade and with a contemporary flavour, the project would likely receive positive comments.  The administration cannot, however, specify what type of setback would be acceptable to the CCU.

The citizens contact the OdM.

They explain that a setback second floor would make them lose a lot of space and would not integrate seamlessly to the existing building.   Moreover, they do not want a project with a contemporary flavour.  They insist that their project, as submitted, provides for the preservation or renewal of many original architectural elements in the treatment of the façade, and thus satisfies the criteria and objectives of the Plan d’implantation et d’intégration architecturale (PIIA).

The OdM does not have jurisdiction over decisions made by a CCU or a Borough Council.  It can nonetheless communicate preliminary information or comments to them.

In the present instance, the OdM felt it was appropriate to inform the members of the Borough Council of some facts we had gathered in the course of our investigation; the whole with a view to contribute to their global understanding of the situation, when asked to take position on this project.  The following elements were submitted:

  • The building is not designated as a “significant building”.
  • It is located in an area where the heights for constructions authorized by the Règlement d’urbanisme are 2–2, i.e. minimum two floors, maximum two floors.
  • The Borough’s PIIA allows the addition of volume on existing buildings as long as it highlights “the original architectural characteristics of the building, and more specifically the crown, including through a substantial set back from the façade or by the reinstatement of some of the original architectural characteristics”. (our translation and emphasis) 
  • The Regulation, therefore, seems to offer a choice to citizens regarding the way through which they will emphasize the architectural characteristics of their building.
  • Notwithstanding the discretionary power of the Borough Council, when appreciating a project in light of the PIIA, such exercise cannot have the effect of voiding rules found in the Regulation.
  • The provisions of the PIIA must not be used to indirectly impose a norm which is not provided for in the Regulation.If the Borough wishes to prohibit or limit the addition of a second floor on “shoebox” or “boom town” constructions, as reported by the media, it should modify its Règlement d’urbanisme so as to make the rule clear.
  • The OdM is also concerned by the long processing time of this file, especially in a context where the structure of the roof of this building is weakened.
  • The OdM finally reminds the Borough Council that the Borough’s DDTET had issued a favourable Recommendation for this project.


On October 5, 2015, the Borough Council approves the project, with a majority vote.  The citizens are able to obtain their permit quickly.


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