This article is part of the Forum Network series on New Societal Contract and reflects on discussions at OECD Forum 2019 in Paris. But it doesn't stop there – wherever you are, become a member of the global Forum Network community to comment below and continue the conversation!

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A leader with respect to inclusion, Montreal draws its inspiration from the potential of diversity to promote its development. Much like other great cities of the world, the metropolis of Quebec places cohesion and social inclusion at the very heart of its policies. 

Whether in terms of housing, integration, workforce, or cultural visibility, our administration spares no effort in ensuring that social and cultural diversity are well integrated in every facet of our development. 

In the context of globalisation, Montreal’s reputation as a city of well-being is closely related to its ability to welcome and integrate those who chose to call it their home.  

Today, our community is made up of people of all origins. This plurality is first and foremost expressed in the neighbourhoods of our metropolis, with nearly 200 languages spoken on a daily basis, welcoming and inclusive living environments where every individual can reach their full potential. 

A Country Called Home: The potential of entrepreneurship to foster the integration of vulnerable populations

A Country Called Home: The potential of entrepreneurship to foster the integration of vulnerable populations

In fact, Montreal has recently adopted an ambitious strategy for the development of 12,000 social and affordable housing units to meet the diverse needs of its communities and citizens. The city’s proactive approach and investments have drawn financial contributions from higher levels of government that have been essential to reach housing goals. Interventions carried out as part of this strategy are meant for developing and existing neighborhoods alike. 

Find out more about the OECD's Thematic work on cities

For Montreal, diversity is a powerful driver of social and economic development. It represents one of our community’s most precious assets: a force that enables families to remain in town, businesses to find qualified workforce, universities to house students and low-income citizens to find adequate housing.  

But above all, this diversity enables Montrealers of all origins to participate in the development of their community. And like any large metropolis, Montreal must integrate new paradigms to overcome the challenges it is facing, both on a local and global scale. 

Cities are the most local of governments and as such, they must show leadership and put forth innovative urban practices. 

Through its unique history and culture, Montreal has often been known to do things differently. This quality is one of our most valued strengths and it marks the way we collectively approach issues related to development. 

This vision is clearly expressed, among other things, through the way Montreal approaches the development of its infrastructures, through a sustainable development and public health perspective. 

Chug…chug…chug: Infrastructural politics in the United States

Chug…chug…chug: Infrastructural politics in the United States

Montreal is experiencing consistent growth. However, the infrastructures of our metropolis are in dire need of maintenance. And while Montreal has evolved considerably over the past decades, the needs of its citizens have also changed.  

This is why the city is working relentlessly on offering a built environment that meets the needs of current and future generations, and that is designed with the well-being of our citizens in mind. 

It is in this very spirit that Montreal’s urban development projects aim to support the emergence of sustainable neighborhoods, promote environmentally friendly mobility and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. This approach is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations’ New Urban Agenda, as well as with the global movement against climate change, acknowledging that cities are at the heart of the solution. 

Get more facts and compare your country from the OECD Environment Data Portal

Climate change is a reality that we must face and that requires firm action. For Montreal, this action means taking each urban regeneration project as an opportunity to integrate environmental measures by developing its bike path network, increasing vegetation cover or reinventing the design of our streets.  

It is also in this spirit that important efforts are focused on offering alternatives to vehicles and streamlining access to physical transportation and public transit. Enabling people to get around on foot or by bike remains crucial for the improvement of public health. Choosing public transit has a direct impact on the quality of our environment. 

How addressing the link between climate change, air quality and public health may help us all breathe easier

How addressing the link between climate change, air quality and public health may help us all breathe easier

Building the city of tomorrow inevitably depends on the development of sustainable infrastructures, adapted to the modern needs of our population. This also implies the necessary action to ensure the health of our ecosystems and, consequently, the well-being of our communities.  

On a planet where borders are fading, we must work side-by-side to face our challenges together. I am therefore thankful for the opportunity OECD Forum 2019 provided us to exchange, share and rethink the development of our cities together. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to initiate discussions by asking three questions. I am certain that your perspective will enhance our collective thought process. 

  • What measures were taken in your city to address environmental issues?
  • How can we encourage citizen participation in the development of their city?
  • How can cities and their government partners ensure the availability of affordable urban housing in current urban contexts? 

Valérie Plante

Mayor of Montréal

City of Montréal website

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Related Topics

Migrants’ Integration Sustainable Development Goals Climate Housing OECD Forum 2019

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