Wondering about how to vote in Montreal? Here's what you need to know

Montreal's municipal structure can be confusing, so we try to break it down for you and explain why it is the way it is.

Who am I voting for? How many people am I voting for? It's all covered right here

Valérie Plante of Projet Montréal is facing off against her predecessor, Denis Coderre, and newcomer Balarama Holness in the race for Montreal mayor. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Am I voting for the mayor of Montreal or a borough mayor? What's the difference between a city councillor and a borough councillor, and why do we have to vote for both in some boroughs?

Montreal is a complicated city when it comes to municipal politics. With an election coming up in November, we break it down for you in a comprehensive and clear way.

From mayor on down

Let's start from the top and move down the ladder.

Leading the city of Montreal is the mayor. Every Montrealer eligible to vote will have to decide on who they want to run the city.

Below the mayor is city council — which includes both borough mayors and city councillors.

The city council is made up of the mayor of Montreal as well as all the mayors of 18 boroughs. (The Ville-Marie borough mayor seat is filled by the mayor of Montreal.)

That means every Montrealer — except those in the Ville-Marie borough — are voting for both a Montreal mayor and a borough mayor.

City versus borough councillors

Now it gets a bit more complicated.

Some Montreal boroughs just have city councillors, others have only borough councillors and some have both. So what's the difference?

City councillors represent their borough on Montreal city council and they also represent their citizens on borough council.

The more populated a borough, the more representation it will have on city council.

Take Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, for example. It is Montreal's most-populous borough with more than 160,000 residents. It has a borough mayor as well as five city councillors, but no borough councillors.

But what about borough councillors?

Each borough council has to have at least five members. 

So if the size of the population only warrants one city councillor, who also sits on borough council, that borough has to make up the difference in members by electing borough councillors.

So how many people am I voting for then?

Every Montrealer who shows up to their polling station votes for:

  • Mayor of Montreal
  • Borough mayor (unless in Ville-Marie)
  • City councillor of their district (except for in Outremont and L'Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève, where the mayor serves as representative on city council)

And in boroughs with less city representation:

  • Borough councillor(s)

Do you have any story ideas or tips for our municipal election team? Please email


Sarah Leavitt


Sarah Leavitt is a journalist with CBC Montreal.


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