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“Greater Montréal is definitely a great place to live.”
That’s from a website promoting Canada’s second largest metropolis to foreign investors. Greater Montréal. The local businesses and political groups behind the site are marketing not just the city of Montréal itself or any one of its affluent suburbs, but the entire urban region. In French, it’s Grand Montréal.
It hasn’t always been this way. Locals here sometimes have a hard time grasping what “Greater Montréal” is all about. The core city, with its office towers and dense walkable neighborhoods built on a European model, doesn’t have much in common with its sprawling suburbs and the car-based lifestyle they entail. In the past, local leaders have been unable to collaborate on common projects, such as finding funds to build adequate transportation to the suburban Mirabel airport, which closed and had to be demolished.
But this is slowly changing. For the first time, mayors of the entire region and civil society groups are working from a common plan to turn the metropolitan area into a thriving and sustainable urban center. They’re applying best practices from abroad and inventing their own tools for sound regional governance. Advertising “Greater Montréal” to global business is just one way that plan is being put into action. […]