A citizen complained about the way a Public Consultation was conducted by Arrondissement de Pierrefonds-Roxboro and submitted that many undertakings stated in the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities (MCRR) were not respected.

We analyzed this complaint in light of various parameters, such as: the legislative, statutory and other applicable frameworks; the comments and recommendations issued by the Office de consultation publique de Montréal after a Public Consultation involving Arrondissement de Pierrefonds-Roxboro; and the good practices generally recognized with regard to public consultations.

Following our investigation, we issued numerous comments and ideas for improvement to the borough which welcomed them all. Here are the basics:

a) Scope of the Consultation

The global project for the review of all urban planning By-laws included many projects of zoning change. At the end of the process, sixty zoning changes were adopted as part of this global project, while eleven such projects were excluded. In our opinion:

o The borough’s decision to exclude these eleven zoning change projects from the global project was appropriate in light of the importance of this type of changes for the residents of the areas affected;

o However, more zoning change projects should have been excluded from the global project i.e. all of those likely to have an impact on the immediate environment of the residents;

o Such an approach would have been more consistent with the spirit and the letter of the Act Respecting Land Use Planning and Development and of section 16 of the MCRR;

b) Quality of the information put at the disposal of citizens

In section 16 of the MCRR, Ville de Montréal undertakes to encourage and promote citizen participation by providing citizens “useful information stated in a clear language”.

Moreover, Ville de Montréal’s Public Consultation and Participation Policy states that Ville de Montréal should: “before any consultation, produce and communicate complete, objective, relevant, user-friendly and accessible information on the policy, the project or the program that is the subject of the consultation”.

(Our emphasis)

Considering this framework, we submitted to the borough:

o That it would have been appropriate for the borough to provide the citizens, from the beginning, with a simplification document explaining, in a clear language, the main directions of this global project, as well as the most important changes suggested;

o That this document should have clearly informed the citizens of every zoning change project integrated in the general remodel, as well as of the relevant procedures to challenge them.

o That in order to properly inform citizens and encourage public participation, the borough should have made available more quickly, from the beginning, and at the same time as the draft by-laws, the documents explaining the projects regarding zoning and, more particularly, its documents entitled Zoning change – Annotated plan and explanatory chart – Zoning change.

c) Clarity of the information

The final draft of the proposed By-laws to be submitted to the Borough Council, for its approval, were put on the borough’s Website with a note stating: “The present document is a preliminary version of the By-law (…)”. This created confusion for citizens. The projects should have been identified as the final version, in view of their adoption.

d) Accessibility of the information

All of the documents regarding this Consultation, including the modifications brought during the process, should have been put at the disposal of the public on the borough’s Website and in all of the service points where the initial documentation had been made available, namely: the borough’s office and 2 libraries (Pierrefonds and Roxboro). This was not the case for some documents.

The Minutes produced following the 2 Public assemblies and the Chart summarizing the Open House activities were never put at the disposal of citizens. We believe these documents should have been made accessible, in the 3 service points.

e) Accessibility of the Public Consultation process

Citizens who wanted to submit written comments could not hand-in handwritten documents: this requirement may have had an exclusionary effect.

Despite the constraints that can arise from reading handwritten documents, a more inclusive approach should have prevailed: the borough should have accepted Memoirs and comments of citizens that were not typed, with the condition that they be easily readable.


The borough confirmed that these suggestions and comments for the improvement of the processes would be implemented, for all future Public Consultations. This positive reaction is very much in line with the approach advocated by our office, namely the continuous improvement of the procedures and processes of the municipal administration.

The plaintiff was satisfied with the results.

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