Warning: some elected officials may find this dangerously boring. Do not attempt to understand while doing anything which requires wakefulness.
Bill 122 was introduced in Quebec’s National Assembly Dec. 6, “an Act mainly to recognize that municipalities are local governments and to increase their autonomy and powers.”
When it is adopted sometime in 2017, it will give Quebec’s 1,600 municipalities broader powers over urban planning, including zoning. It will change how municipalities are allowed to ask for the 10% greenspace requirement for a proposed subdivision. It will govern how municipalities plan their spending priorities. It will lay down tough new freedom-of-information and fiscal reporting requirements.
It will make public consultation a cornerstone of development policy.
Municipalities will no longer be required to post public notices in local newspapers. Instead, they will face tougher transparency requirements, including the obligation to post every public document on a municipal website.
Once Bill 122 is adopted, municipalities will have far greater autonomy over zoning and development. Section 85.5 deals with a new word, requalification. A municipality may identify requalification zones in its planning policy, where redevelopment such as densification or urban renewal wouldn’t require a rezoning bylaw subject to referendum. Until Bill 122, a municipality wishing to direct development or renewal had to adopt a plan particuler d’urbanisme, or PPU. Vaudreuil-Dorion used a PPU to bigfoot opponents to the sunless canyons on de la Gare. L’Île-Perrot used a PPU to rehabilitate Grand and Perrot Blvds., but in both cases all it required was Quebec’s blessing.
Here’s what the new law says (boldface type and quotation marks denote exerpts lifted verbatim from the draft bill’s English version available on the National Assembly website):
Every municipality that wishes to avail itself of the power provided
for in section 85.5 shall first adopt an information and consultation policy.
The policy must contain measures that are complementary to those in this
Act and are designed to foster public participation and the dissemination of
information. The policy must enable the public to make comments or
suggestions, orally or in writing, and provide for dissemination of information via the Internet.
The policy must also provide for the production of a consultation report and
its tabling before the council of the municipality.
The Minister may, by regulation, fix any other requirement concerning the
content of an information and consultation policy.
The policy applies, throughout the territory of the municipality, to any
amendment or revision of the planning program.
Every municipality that wishes to amend or revise its zoning or
subdivision by-law in a way that significantly modifies the standards applicable
in a territory situated within a requalification zone must first produce and make
public an analysis of the probable social, economic and environmental effects
of these new standards. The analysis must draw a connection between the
modifications and the directions and objectives contained in the planning
Another major change governs the 10% greenspace requirement from developers.
The rules must also take into account, in favour of the owner, any transfer
or payment made previously in respect of all or part of the site.”
[…] The municipality may require the
transfer of land whose surface area is greater than 10% of the surface area of
the site if the land in respect of which the subdivision or building permit is
applied for is situated within a central sector of the municipality and if all or
part of the immovable is green space. […] If the municipality requires both
the transfer of land and the payment of a sum, the amount paid must not exceed 10% of the value of the site.
The council shall, by by-law, determine the boundaries of the central sectors
of the municipality and define what constitutes green space for the purposes
of the third paragraph.
Bill 122 also imposes stricter fiscal reporting requirements on municipalities. For example, a municipality’s treasurer must submit to Quebec by May 15:
– a financial report;
– the chief auditor’s report;
– the external auditor’s report.
Any revisions must be tabled at the next public council meeting. Moreover, “the treasurer shall table two comparative statements at the last regular
sitting of the council held at least four weeks before the sitting at which the
budget for the following fiscal year is to be adopted.”
Municipalities will be forced to clean up their procedural act. No longer will they be able to present a notice of motion of a proposed bylaw, then adopt said bylaw later in the same meeting.
Every by-law must, on pain of nullity [declared null and void],
be preceded by a notice of motion and a draft by-law tabled at a sitting
of the council and be adopted at a subsequent sitting held on a later day.
The notice of motion and the draft by-law may be tabled at the same sitting
or at separate sittings, but the draft by-law may not precede the notice of
Finally, Bill 122 will make Quebec the final arbiter in determining “what information every municipality is required to disseminate in an open document format on a storage medium so that it can be reused.
The regulation must set out the terms governing the dissemination of such
information, which terms may vary according to the different classes of
When will Bill 122 be adopted? We don’t know. The Couillard government and Quebec’s two major municipal associations have been trumpeting its virtues for the past year but it could take another year before it becomes law.
In the meantime, the old rules apply. Municipalities should keep this in mind before attempting to justify policy changes based on legislation yet to be adopted.