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Old Montréal map
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Old Montréal was declared a historic district on January 8, 1964. Its perimeter was enlarged on April 26, 1995, to cover the entire area corresponding to the former city centre.

Owning a building in Old Montréal, living in the district or doing business here is a privilege. Because of the richness of its heritage, the harmonious balance of its architectural styles and the size of the protected area, Montréal's old city is recognized as a unique North American heritage site. Today, Old Montréal retains traces of and testimonials to its evolution since the birth of the city, and remains a vibrant component of its urban pulse. You have a role to play in preserving Old Montréal's significant heritage, by understanding the procedures described in this guide before beginning any work on your property.

Pursuant to the borough's status as a historic district, two government authorities–one at the municipal and the other at the provincial level–work to ensure the enduring identity and intrinsic qualities of Old Montréal. By law, no person may:

  • divide or subdivide, redivide or parcel out any lot;
  • change the arrangement, ground plan, destination or utilization of an immovable;
  • make any construction, repairs or alteration to the dimensions, architecture, materials or exterior appearance of an immovable;
  • post, alter, replace or demolish any sign or billboard; or
  • alter, restore, repair, change in any manner or demolish all or part of any recognized cultural property

without first requesting authorization to do so from the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec and obtaining the necessary permits from the City of Montréal.

The Ministère de la Culture et des Communications carries out its work pursuant to the Québec Cultural Property Act. To view the full text of this legislation, click here: R.S.Q., Chapter B-4.

The City of Montréal administers the district's heritage pursuant to a Plan d'intégration et d'implantation architectural (PIIA, or Site planning and architectural integration program (SPAIP)). The scope of its actions is determined by Article 100 of the Urban Planning Bylaw 01-282 of the Borough of Ville-Marie:

"In significant sectors or immovables, work relating to the construction or extension of buildings, the alteration, restoration or replacement of architectural features, must be carried out in accordance with this chapter, where it involves work on part of a building visible from a public thoroughfare next to the lot."

Different sections of the Urban Planning Bylaw govern various types of work:

  • Articles 21 to 23 concern AUTHORIZED EXTENSIONS above rooflines;
  • Articles 99 to 128 apply to assessment of projects in SIGNIFICANT SECTORS AND IMMOVABLES;
  • Articles 514 to 516 regulate the posting of ADVERTISING SIGNS in Old Montréal.

All projects coming under these sections of the Urban Planning Bylaw require a submission to the Borough of Ville-Marie Comité consultatif d'urbanisme (CCU, or urban planning advisory committee (UPAC)). Authorization to issue the permit is secured by resolution of the Borough Council.

Other work (e.g., interior layout changes, alterations not visible from the street) is also regulated by the Urban Planning Bylaw. A permit is required, but it can be issued directly by the municipal administration without need for review by the CCU or a Borough Council resolution.

In addition, all places of business must hold and display a certificate of occupancy attesting that the operations being conducted on the premises are compliant with the Bylaw. A new certificate is required if the floor area of the premises is altered, transformation work is performed, or there is a change in or addition to the operations or a change of business operator.

The text of the Urban Planning Bylaw may be consulted at either of the two Accès Ville-Marie offices.

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Last updated: September 2008