Campus Planning: Municipal Issues

McGill is in regular communication with staff at the City of Montreal; more specifically the borough of Ville-Marie, the borough of Plateau/Mont-Royal and Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue regarding zoning issues, infrastructure issues, transportation issues, physical alterations to campus space and funding issues.


Relevant policies and documents include:

Zoning Bylaws

Adopted in 1995, the Ville de Montreal has defined the type and scale of development on McGill’s downtown campus through the development of zoning by-law 95-039

These zoning restrictions on the site pertain to land use, building height, site coverage, floor-area ratio, setbacks, parking, etc. These requirements include:

  • Land Use Designation: Educational facility, museum, entertainment area and commercial area (restricted to specific commercial activities)
  • Maximum Density: 3.0 Floor Area Ratio
  • Maximum Building Site Coverage: ranges from 35-70%, depending on location within the McGill precinct
  • Maximum Height Limit: new construction is restricted to between 16-37m, depending on the location

Variances to this by-law need to be raised with municipal parties to receive approval.

Historic and Natural District of Mont-Royal

McGill’s downtown campus lies within the Historic and Natural District of Mount Royal, a heritage zone created by the Government of Quebec in 2005 to recognize the importance of this prominent Montreal landmark. 

By conferring on it the dual designation of historic and natural district, the Québec government hopes to protect the mountain and encourage harmonious development in keeping with its unique landscape, artistic, sepulchral, commemorative, archeological, ethnohistorical, and built heritage.

Authorization must be obtained from the Minister before erecting or demolishing a structure (in whole or in part); making repairs to or altering the exterior appearance of a structure; or otherwise changing the design or purpose of a structure or lot.  Authorizations obtained from the Department to carry out the above are in addition to those required in accordance with municipal by-laws in effect and do not absolve the owner of any other requirements.

-Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine

Heritage Designation

The City has identified both McGill’s downtown campus and Macdonald campus as historical sites of Institutional Character.  The City will ensure that the site retains the integrity of its heritage elements.  Any project on the site involving transformation, construction or subdivision will be evaluated to:

  • Ensure the harmonious integration of any new construction with the existing campus;
  • Consider the characteristics of the surrounding urban fabric (height, density and typology) and the compatibility of proposed uses;
  • Protect broad and narrow views of buildings or other elements that contribute to the character of the ensemble, especially those visible from streets and public places;
  • Favour the protection of scenic or landscape characteristics, such as landscaping patterns, tree alignments or clusters, gardens or basins;
  • Protect and enhance woods, streams or other natural environments of interest on the properties;
  • Ensure public access to green spaces and natural environments.

-Ville de Montreal

McTavish Street

In early 2010, the Ville-Marie borough approved by-law CA-24-138, transferring the management of the urban space on McTavish Street to McGill. On May 28th, 2010 the section of McTavish Street between Sherbrooke Street and Dr. Penfield Avenue was transformed into a pedestrian zone as part of the larger Campus Greening initiative. 

For more information, please visit the following link.

Municipal Links

To get more information on the Municipal jurisdictions in which McGill’s downtown campus and Macdonald campus are located, please visit the following links: