Montreal's Right of Initiative to Public Consultation was invoked by when a petition demanding audience with municipal officials on the state of urban agriculture received 29,000 signatures. There were no immediate outcomes.
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Problems and Purpose
The Right to Initiate Public Consultations was used successfully by the Montrealers in 2011, when 29,000 people signed a petition requesting a public consultation on the “state of urban agriculture”. Urban agriculture can be defined as “the growing of plants and the raising of animals for food and other uses within and around cities and towns." Its proponents wanted to enlighten this growing phenomenon and to obtain public support, in order to make Montreal a more green and sustainable city.
Background History and Context
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Origanizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
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Participant Recruitment and Selection
Participants were recruited by the petition's backers: dozens of organizations and volunteers. All signatories were self-selecting.
Methods and Tools Used
The Right to Initiate Public Consultations was invoked during this process. Adopted by the Montréal city council in September 2009, the Right to Initiative is a democratic tool which grants Montrealers the ability initiate a public consultation on any matter that concerns the city or their borough. It is enshrined in the Montreal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The petition campaign was led by dozens of organizations and volunteers through the city for 90 days. The outcome was considered as a great success, as the proponents collected almost double the amount of required signatures. It forced then Montréal Mayor Gérald Tremblay to announce the holding of a public consultation under the auspices of the /Office de consultation publique de Montréal/ in the spring of 2012.
More than one hundred briefs and opinions were presented to the OCPM during the hearings, which were attended by some 1500 people. The process was longer and more comprehensive than what is prescribed by the law. Members of the commission attended meetings with representatives of several organizations in a “preconsultation” period. A scientific conference and a public exhibition on urban agriculture were organized.
Six information sessions were then held across the city, before the citizens were invited to submit and present their briefs during seven audition sessions. People were able to participate on the commission website.
That led to the release of a report detailing the state of urban agriculture in Montréal and identifying the main obstacles to its development in October 2012. The document also included a list of 20 recommendations to the city.
Then, in March 2013, the Montréal executive committee announced the creation of a 20-member permanent working group on urban agriculture, to ensure the hearings would produce some concrete results.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
At the present time, only one other public consultation has emerged from the Right to Initiate Public Consultations. In September 2011, a group of citizens has submitted to the city a draft petition that was deemed eligible. The subject of the request was: "Forbid electric scooters on Montreal bike paths". Soon thereafter the city and the group representative agreed that a public consultation by a standing committee of city council on the types of vehicles that could be allowed or prohibited on the Montreal bike path network was sufficient. A series of 15 recommendations were eventually made to the city council in spring 2012.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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Montreal Citizens' Right of Initiative to Public Consultations (method)
 Ville de Montréal (2012), By-law 05-056-1: By-law concerning the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities and the Right of Initiative, Online. http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/DROIT_INITIATIVE_FR/MED...
 Ville de Montréal (2011), Take the initiative...it’s your right!, Online. http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/CHARTE_MTL_FR/MEDIA/DOC...
 Ville de Montréal (2011), Leaflet – Right of Initiative to public consultations, Online. http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/DROIT_INITIATIVE_FR/MED...
 Ville de Montréal – Cabinet du maire et du comité exécutif (2013), « Montréal met sur pied un Comité de travail de la collectivité sur l'agriculture urbaine », CNW Telbec
 Ville de Montréal, Official city portal – Ville de Montréal, Online. http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/portal/page?_pageid=5798,85041649&_dad=porta...
 Office de consultation publique de Montréal (2012), « L'agriculture urbaine à Montréal : des initiatives multiples qui nécessitent une meilleure coordination, estime l'OCPM », CNW Telbec
 Office de consultation publique de Montréal (2012), État de l’agriculture urbaine à Montréal : Rapport de consultation publique, Online. https://ville.montreal.qc.ca/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/CHANTIER_DEMOCRATIE_FR/MEDIA/DOCUMENTS/AGRICULTUREURBAINEMONTREAL_2012.PDF
The text of this article was moved from the Participedia method 'The Right of Initiative to Public Consultations' by Laurence Beherer. The article was originally written by Samuel Tremblay, Université de Montréal as part of a research project funded by the SSHRC.
Lead image: la Ville de Montréal https://goo.gl/DjiiDe