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Experiencing My City
Valérie Plante


Published on
March 22, 2018
For her first appearance in À nous Montréal, Mayor Valérie Plante met with us at Crew Collectif & Café in Old Montréal. She was accompanied by Sophie Mauzerolle, associate advisor to the mayor on the city’s executive committee and city councillor for Ville-Marie’s Sainte-Marie district.

Our meeting place wasn’t chosen randomly. It symbolizes entrepreneurial renewal and dynamic creativity, but also Montréal’s financial and economic roots. The Crew, which is located on the ground floor of the old 1920s-era Royal Bank of Canada building, offers co-working spaces that are popular with young entrepreneurs and independent workers.

Naturally, the conversation turns to a subject that is dear to Mayor Plante’s heart: the next generation.

“It’s important to show young people that they have a place in the city,” said the mayor. For her, it is clear that the best way to inspire future generations is to have people who represent them in institutions. “I want to prove that municipal politics is accessible to everyone,” said Mayor Plante, whose administration comprises both experienced people and newcomers.

Make way for young people

“Younes Boukala is the youngest coun­cillor in Montréal’s history, at age 22,” said Mauzerolle. Boukala, a youth ambas­sador for Montréal’s 375th anniversary (#Jeunesse375MTL), Boukala studied political science before being elected in Lachine.

“Many elected officials are parents of young children. There are also pregnant women in our team,” said Mayor Plante, turning toward Mauzerole, who, at the time this article was written, was just a few weeks into her pregnancy. “No one could have imagined that 20 years ago!” said the mayor.

The city already has representative organiza­tions such as the Conseil des Montréalaises and the Conseil des jeunes. Mayor Plante would like to increase their participation in the boroughs.

“Young people are more sensitive to issues today,” said Mauzerolle. “They bring forward innovative solutions on subjects and issues that affect them.” The environment, sustainable development, transportation and human-scale living environments are among their concerns, along with educa­tion, the workforce and challenges created by globalization.

Montréal: the world’s best university city

“In 2017, Montréal was chosen the best university city in the world out of 100 cities that are the most popular with students!” said Mayor Plante.  Programs such as “I Choose Montréal,” launched by Montréal International in collaboration with the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion, help international students turn their school years into a life path in the greater Montréal area.

And Montréal’s power of attraction remains strong. “For offices to choose Montréal as their headquarters, we have to offer them tangible incentives that help them grow and offer their workforce ways to thrive,” said Mayor Plant. Quality of living, access to transportation and access to qualified employees are three big factors that attract companies to a large city.

“Local entrepreneurship has an important place, and we must continue to support it,” said Mayor Plante. Among a number of initiatives to support new talent are the “Parcours innovation PME,” which helps entrepreneurs find creative solutions to business problems.

Small actions that benefit everyone

The city lives, vibrates and evolves with its residents. All of society benefits when a living environment is improved. “We favour global solutions,” said Mauzerolle.“They help relieve loneliness and strengthen intergenerational ties.”

When benches are installed in a neighbourhood or park or on a street corner, they give seniors a place to take a break while shopping, create meeting places for youth and promote meetings with neighbours. “These small actions benefit everyone,” said Mayor Plante. “They create a cultural, social and economic mesh that enriches our city.

Time flies, and the mayor has another meeting. “Renewal and change have to happen with respect, openness and balance. Taking young people’s needs into consideration means giving them a voice. Most of all, though, it means making room for them,” said Mayor Plante just before leaving.

As she walked down the café’s steps, Mayor Plante shook a few more hands and greeted workers coming in with their laptops under their arms. Then she left, confident in the future.