There are no major segregation issues in the city and many neighbourhoods and boroughs are socially diverse, including because of the implementation of projects and the adoption of policies specifically geared towards boosting the diversity of the residents in the various neighbourhoods.
For instance, under its policy for the inclusion of affordable housing in new residential projects, the city has developed a strategy which aims to “maintain social diversity by promoting the development of diversified housing on large sites so as to meet the needs of citizens with varied incomes and thus promote the creation of diverse and inclusive communities.”
Particular emphasis will shortly be placed on improving the supply of social housing through the adoption – scheduled for 2020 – of regulations laying down a minimum proportion of social, affordable and family housing to be included in residential projects from 2021.
The aim of the measure is to maintain diverse and affordable housing supply in the city by fostering access to decent housing for all and combating gentrification.
The city also has a municipal housing bureau (OMHM), which regards intergenerational and intercultural shared living as a priority. The OMHM has contributed to the city’s social diversity by building several dwellings within residential complexes in which social housing is found alongside housing co-operative and condominium properties. Surprisingly, the social housing units are themselves home to diverse groups.
In order to avoid the tensions which social diversity might cause, the city sets great store by exchanges, reciprocity and mutual understanding. It therefore encourages the holding of intercultural activities and events in the various neighbourhoods and properties.
For example, a project called “Living in Diversity” funded under an agreement between the City of Montreal and the Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion helps to bridge the intercultural gap and foster shared living and inclusiveness among residents of many social housing projects in Montreal. It has been running since 2011 and aims at supporting the community and social development that takes place in social housing in Montreal by reaching out to isolated migrant tenants and putting them in contact with citizens from their communities. The presence of community workers and the holding of activities within the housing schemes themselves not only provide a grassroots service but also make it possible to deal more individually with the challenges of integration and bridging intercultural differences.
In addition, the city’s Diversity and Social Inclusion Department carries out integrated urban revitalisation measures aimed at long-term improvements in the living conditions of residents of disadvantaged areas. These include:
- strengthening the collective capacity for action;
- improving the physical and built environment;
- improving public and private service delivery;
- and developing individuals’ skills.
The approach followed combines input from citizens, public and private sector representatives, elected representatives and community bodies who work together in improving the quality of life of the residents of the targeted neighbourhoods.
Lastly, the Office for the Integration of Newcomers (BINAM) funds a project entitled “Housing, Key to Successful Integration” run by the Federation of Metropolitan Montreal Intermunicipal Housing Co-operatives (FECHIMM). This is aimed at several categories of individuals and entities, in particular:
1. Newcomers, through information/training sessions and dedicated support to improve access to affordable housing. This involves workshops on how to present yourself at selection interviews and on how management boards work, etc.
2. The organisations funded by the Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion and/or members of the Dialogue Panel of the Bodies Working for Refugees and Migrants (TRCI) which welcome newcomers, through awareness-raising, information and training activities concerning the social housing sector, the various tenancies and eligibility criteria, etc.
3. The organisations funded by the Quebec Housing Corporation (SHQ), through awareness-raising, information and training activities concerning the reality of newcomers’ lives and the obstacles they face when looking for housing.
The image of these neighbourhoods and the development of spaces and forums for meetings between citizens from different backgrounds are therefore very important to the city. Its Culture Department is a key player in revitalising the neighbourhoods. It carries out a whole range of activities to foster meetings and dialogue. The most noteworthy examples include:
- The “MTL cultural mediation” programme for cultural organisations and the “Montreal boroughs cultural mediation programme” for borough cultural centres foster citizen participation and public access to Montreal cultural life. They give rise to hundreds of cultural exchange projects every year and build bridges between artists, local partners and target groups comprising young people, families, elderly people, people with migration backgrounds and Indigenous communities. This approach is a means of tackling the challenges of social inclusion, sharing of cultures, cultural citizenship and putting down roots in the communities and various neighbourhoods of Montreal.
- The “Sharing Montreal’s heritage” programme is designed to support organisations that showcase Montreal’s rich heritage through innovative projects. The projects seek to position heritage as a vector for social ties and therefore contribute to local community development, in particular identity building, social cohesion and improving the quality of life and the environment.
- The “Cultural diversity (festivals and events)” programme supports the holding of festivals and events that bring people together in sharing expressions of Montreal’s cultural diversity so as to promote interculturalism. It fosters citizen participation in cultural life, social cohesion and cultural development in the city’s neighbourhoods, as well as inclusion, equity and diversity of the various groups, through innovative artistic activities.
- The “Amateur arts” programme provides financial assistance for developing and carrying out innovative, developmental amateur arts projects. It aims to improve the penetration of culture across Montreal through projects that boost citizen empowerment in amateur arts. The programme seeks to establish conditions conducive to culture playing a key part in citizens’ daily lives. It is aimed at a wide range of target groups and involves projects that use culture as a tool for tackling social issues such as intercultural relations and social cohesion.
In addition, in partnership with the Loyola association for youth development, NDG aussi chez nous (NDG is also our home), the city runs theatre workshops targeted more specifically at teenagers and young adults from ethnocultural communities and vulnerable groups. Using the Boal method (Theatre of the Oppressed), these workshops employ theatre as a tool for expression and dialogue to enable participants to share their life stories, develop critical thinking and value their own experiences.
 See http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/portal/page?_pageid=9437,121219636&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL, http://servicesenligne.ville.montreal.qc.ca/sel/publications/PorteAccesTelechargement?lng=Fr&systemName=7757558&client=Serv_corp, https://www.ccmm.ca/fr/evenements-ccmm/tribunes-et-conferences/conference-de-valerie-plante-4705/