Sustainable Montreal plan

Montreal, Canada

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.


City information

Size and population development
Montreal is the most populous city in Quebec Province and the second largest city in Canada (after Toronto). In 2016, the Canada 2016 Census reported that the population of Montreal was 1,704,694 people. Registered population growth was +1.31%/year between 2010 and 2015 in Montreal.

Population composition
The population of Montreal is diverse. Legally, the city of Montreal is a french-speaking city, with about half of the population speaking French as a first language. Most of Montreal's residents can speak both French and English at a working proficiency level. In 2011, one third of the population had another mother tongue language than French and English.

Main functions
Montreal has the second highest GDP among Canadian cities and is an important hub of commerce, finance, industry, technology and culture. With 11 universities, Montreal is considered as Canada's university center.

Main industries / business
The economy of Montreal is based on a strong service sector, including financial services, media, trade, design and tourism. Montreal also hosts the headquarters of major international enterprises and UN organizations.

Sources for city budget
National and Provincial government and City taxation revenue.

Political structure
The Montreal Charter of rights and responsibilities (Charte montréalaise des droits et responsabilités) was adopted in 2006 and rules the mandate given to the city administration. Montreal City Council is the principal decision-making body. It is composed of 65 members: the mayor, the 19 borough mayors and 46 city councilors. The mayor is elected through a "first-past-the-post" system every four years.

Administrative structure
Montreal has 19 large boroughs which are subdivided into neighbourhoods.

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Background and objectives

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.

Results and impacts

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.
Lessons learned and transferability

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.


External links / documents