And now, success!
When the Montreal Coalition was launched last fall, the declaration signed by some 200 key figures passionate about Montreal began as follows: Before being an island, before being a city, before being a government, Montreal is first and foremost Montrealers.
In the wake of the demerger referendums, it is clear that the city and the municipal government have undergone major changes in fact, it was the significance of these changes that prompted us to form the Montreal Coalition and present to the public the arguments in favour of maintaining a unified city.
The referendum results have not touched the heart of the matter, however: Montrealers are still here! Montreal continues to exist, whether it is now known as a city or an agglomeration. The vitality of its economy, the wealth of its culture and knowledge, and the social involvement of its people are still its life's blood. An administrative structure does not define or change the essence of an agglomeration, yet alone that of its inhabitants: it is the vehicle we employ collectively in striving to achieve our most legitimate aspirations, at both the local and metropolitan levels. And, like the strengths and weaknesses with which we must deal to achieve our goals, these aspirations remain unchanged, despite the upheaval caused by yesterday's vote. The Montreal agglomeration still faces the same challenges. And, more than ever, it needs to succeed.
Some fear that the past year of disputes and the dismemberment of the new city will tear apart the social fabric of Montreal once and for all, creating a new linguistic divide or gulf between rich and poor municipalities. That danger is still present. To prevent it from becoming an unfortunate reality, we must continue to cultivate, with passion and enthusiasm, that quiet strength a blend of ambition and necessity that still unites us: the desire, shared from one end of the island to the other, to live in a city that is more beautiful, cleaner, richer, fairer, more vibrant, more attractive, and more proud!
Starting today, the common desire to see the agglomeration of Montreal succeed must serve to build bridges between reconstituted municipalities and boroughs, between Montrealers in name and Montrealers in fact. And that will to succeed must quickly manifest itself within the new entity bequeathed to us by Bill 9: the Agglomeration council.
The holding of referendums in 22 former municipalities marks the end of a regrettable chapter in the municipal history of the Montreal agglomeration. Whether or not its conclusion meets our expectations is no longer important: the time has come to begin writing the next chapter in what must become a true success story!
The challenge now is to create an efficient Agglomeration council that will have a mobilizing effect on all the dynamic forces of the social, cultural, environmental, economic, and community development of the island of Montreal. Important and strategic powers will be exercised by this Council and, in so doing, it must demonstrate solidarity, fairness, generosity, and cohesion values cherished by us all.
In his defense of the new City, Gérald Tremblay, the new chair of the Agglomeration council, eloquently demonstrated his understanding of the major urban issues and highlighted his vision of a metropolis abandoning the lower levels of North American classifications. We fervently hope that this Council will generate a movement of belonging and support leading finally to decisive action.
The decisions have been made and the debates must now give way to shared accomplishments. The time to hope for the success of the metropolis has passed: it is time now to achieve it. And once that success becomes our collective goal, our common cause, nothing should stop us from doing so.