The municipal council is responsible for dividing the territory into districts. The number of electoral districts in a municipality is set out in the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities. This number varies from 6 to 90 depending on the size of the municipality’s population.
The districts must be delimited in such a manner as to ensure fair and balanced representation of electors. To this end, the Act sets out the number of electors per district in municipalities with 20,000 inhabitants or more must not be more than 15% above or below the average number of electors per district. The permitted deviation for municipalities with fewer than 20,000 inhabitants is ±25 %.
Delimitation into districts must be guided by geographic, demographic and socioeconomic criteria. Furthermore, as far as possible, an electoral map must take into consideration the population’s attachment to its community.
The municipal council must adopt a resolution to pass a by-law dividing the municipality’s territory into electoral districts after January 1 of the calendar year preceding that in which a general election is to be held. The draft by-law must be published in a newspaper having general circulation in the municipality’s territory.
Electors can manifest their disagreement by objecting in writing to the draft by-law, within the 15 days following publication of the notice.
If the number of electors who object is insufficient, the municipal council shall adopt the draft by-law and transmit it to the CRE.
If the draft by-law is challenged by an equal or greater number of opponents than set out in the Act, the municipal council shall hold a public meeting during which the opponents may express their views. Thereafter, it shall adopt a division by-law during a session following the public meeting. The by-law may be identical or different of the draft by-law.
The municipal council must pass the division by-law prior to June 1 of the year preceding that in which a general election is to be held and transmit it to the CRE. If a public meeting was held on the draft by-law, the clerk or secretary-treasurer must publish a notice in a newspaper having general circulation in the municipality’s territory.
Electors who are still not satisfied with the proposed delimitation by-law may object again by means of a petition or letter addressed to the CRE. Electors have 15 days following the publication of the by-law to make their objection known.
If the opponents do not have sufficient numbers before the CRE, they will examine the division by-law and, where necessary, must approve or refuse it.
If a number of opponents equal or greater than that set out in the Act contest the by-law, the CRE must hold a public meeting to hear the representations of the electors, interested organizations and the municipality. The CRE then renders a final decision.
The CRE carries out the division of a municipality’s territory into electoral districts when:
The division into electoral districts by-law passed by the municipality automatically enters into force on October 31 of the calendar year preceding that in which a general election is to be held. For the division into electoral districts carried out by the CRE, it enters into force on the day of the publication of the notice by the latter.