A series of notes tracking changes in Montréal’s bylaws as they pertain to signage (1890-2001)
1890, March 24

No. 183 By-law to suppress the use of projecting signs.

First sign by-laws introduced in Montreal. Imported from Paris. Prohibiting signs from extending over the sidewalk more than six inches on penalty of fine or up to two months imprisonment.

1901, December 27

No. 270 By-law governing streets, roads and highways.

Prohibiting structures or streamers from being placed across streets, alleys and public places without authorization.

1912, December 2

No. 464 By-law concerning illuminated signs.

Section 1 – “Any electric name, word, letter, sign device or representation in the nature of an advertisement, announcement or direction, formed of electric bulbs, and containing at least one lamp every six inches, hung or attached to the wall of any building over the public sidewalk, shall alone be deemed to be an illuminated or electric sign, for the purposes of this by-law.”

Notwithstanding by-law No. 270, the City Surveyor may recommend permits for hanging illuminated or electric signs to buildings, projecting more than six inches over the sidewalk. The restrictions are that the signs cannot extend over more than half of the sidewalk and must be higher than 10 feet above the sidewalk or as approved by the City Surveyor.

Lamps for illuminated or electric signs were required to burn at all times except for – and they were forbidden from burning on – Sunday from “7 p.m. to 12 p.m. from the 1st of April to the 1st of October, and from 6 o’clock p.m. to 12 p.m. from the 2nd of October to the 31st of May”.

A sketch of the sign and attachment structures had to be filed with the Inspector of Buildings for approval.

Permits were issued for one year only and had to be renewed.

1914, October 26

No. 539 By-law to replace by-law No.464 entitled “By-law concerning illuminated signs.”

Allows signs to extend over up to half the sidewalk if the sidewalk is 12 or more feet wide, but otherwise up to six feet.

Makes specific requirements for illumination: “…in order to attain the desired degree of illumination, all the aforesaid illuminated signs be constructed in such a manner that the electric lamps or bulbs forming the electric lettering or design of such signs shall be outwardly exposed upon the faces of the sign, and that the area of the faces of the said signs so exposed and illuminated shall contain at least one electric lamp or bulb for each square foot of said faces.”

If a sign was illuminated, a minimum of 75% of the face of the sign had to be illuminated.

“The lamps of all illuminated signs shall burn from dusk to midnight, every day, except Sunday.”

Repeals by-law No. 464.

1916, January 17

No.592 By-law to amend by-law No.539 entitled “By-law to replace by-law No.464 entitled “By-law concerning illuminated signs.”

1916, October 23

No. 608 By-law concerning illuminated signs.

The regulation of signage moved to even greater prescriptive detail, requiring the lettering or design to be illuminated “by means of electric lamps or bulbs outwardly exposed placed and not more than six inches apart, when forming part of the lettering, and not more than 10 inches apart when forming part of the design…”

“No painted lettering or design shall be allowed on illuminated electric signs, except on the portion inwardly illuminated.”

“The lamps of all illuminated electric signs shall burn from dusk to eleven o’clock in the evening, every day except Sunday, but it shall not be forbidden to have them burning on Sunday.”

Sketches of signs and supporting structures had to be approved by the Superintendent of Buildings.

Repeals by-laws Nos. 464, 539 and 592.

1924, May 15

No. 853 By-law to amend by-law No. 608 entitled “By-law concerning electric signs.”

The detailed prescriptions concerning the illumination of lettering and design was amended to read “by means of outwardly exposed Tungsten electric lamps of not less than five watts, or any other lamps of equivalent illuminating power…fifty (50) per cent of all of which lamps shall be of clear glass…”

Painted lettering was now allowed on signs if “such lettering be entirely studded with electric lamps…”

1928, May 4

No. 954 By-law concerning illuminated signs and to repeal By-laws Nos. 464, 539, 608, 853.

Introduces provisions for “the type of glass tubes containing a gas rendered luminous by the introduction of an electrical current” i.e. neon illuminated signage (in addition to Tungsten electric, internally lit transparent glass, and outwardly illuminated).

Internally lit transparent glass signage were required to have electric lamps of 40 watts per square foot.

Increasingly detailed prescriptions for signage construction, supports and bracing.

1948, November 4

No. 1900 By-law concerning the erection of buildings in the City of Montreal.

1963, October 31

No. 2889 By-law concerning signs.

Substantial re-write and expansion of signage by-laws (the previous by-laws were about 15 paragraphs long; 2889 contains 98 paragraphs).

Building logos appear to be contemplated under Article 1.1(d): “the crests, lettering and designs made up of materials incorporated with the building materials of the structure.”

“Illuminated signs” are defined as “signs, which cast artificial light directly, as well as those the lettering or design of which is lit by any lighting equipment placed somewhere on the sign.”

Article I-4 exempts “signs installed on private property, which do not project more than six (6) inches over the public domain and the area of which does not exceed twenty-four (24) square feet” from parts 4 (Building requirements) and 6 (Installation permits) of the by-laws – and, it exempts “signs which advertise an establishment existing in a building” from the “provisions of City by-laws which prohibit accessory structures between the building line and the street line.”

Extraordinary engineering detail concerning structures of supports, ice loads, materials, etc.

Repeals by-laws Nos. 89; 464; 539; 592; 608; 635; 651; 740; 853; 954; 1025; 1042 (as pertains to signs and posters); 1144; 2129; and portions of many, many other by-laws.

1966, June 21

No. 3309 Amendment to By-law No. 2889 concerning signs.

1967, April 21

No. 3447 Amendment to By-law No. 2889 entitled: By-law concerning signs, as already amended by By-law No. 3309.

1967, May 23

No.3456 Amendment to By-law No. 2889 concerning signs, as already amended by By-laws Nos. 3309 and 3447.

By-laws amended to apply to any 3rd party who creates, installs, alters, maintains or repairs signs on behalf of their owner [NB. is this amendment in response to a court decision?].

Article 7-1 is amended to place a 10 year cap on allowance for grandfathered signs that are temporarily removed for whatever reason.

1967, December 7

No. 3594 Amendment to By-law No. 2889 concerning signs, as already amended by By-laws Nos. 3309, 3447 and 3456.

1968, July 31

No. 3696 Amendment to By-law No. 2889 concerning signs, as already amended by By-laws Nos. 3309, 3447, 3456 and 3594.

1968, September 27

No. 3712 Amendment to By-law No.2889 concerning signs, as already amended by By-laws Nos. 3309, 3447, 3456, 3594 and 3696.

Article 6 is amended to introduce a “special annual tax” for signs

No. 3818 Amendment to By-law No. 2889 concerning signs, as already amended by By-laws Nos. 3309, 3447, 3456, 3594, 3696 and 3712.

1977, June 22

No. 5128 By-law concerning signs, billboards and advertising units.

Section 13.1 — “…any building with a total floor area of more than one thousand eight hundred and fifty square metres (1850m2) may be identified by means of a sign.”

Section 17 – “A building may be identified on each of its walls by means of an illuminated sign not limited as to area, provided the lowest part of the sign is located more than thirty meters (30m) above ground…”

Additional criteria were imposed on the size and shape of building signs that would have an impact on design: If illuminated, they could project no more than 23 cm from the wall (if not, 15 cm); Must be made of non-combustible materials or approved combustible plastics; The part of the sign exceeding the line intersecting the roof plane and that of the façade shall not exceed one-third (1/3) of the total height of the sign.

Special provisions were made for signs appearing on certain streets.

1978, August 15

No. 5258 By-law amending By-law No. 5128 concerning signs, billboards and advertising.

1980, January 21

No. 5421 By-law amending the by-law concerning signs, billboards and advertising units (Nos. 5128, 5258).

1983, November 15

No. 6274 By-law amending the by-law concerning signs, billboards and advertising units (Nos. 5128, 5258, 5421).

1984, May 17

No. 6429 By-law amending the by-law concerning signs, billboards and advertising units (Nos. 5128, 5258, 5421, 6274).

1984, October 22

No. 6518 By-law amending the by-law concerning signs, billboards and advertising units (Nos. 5128, 5258, 5421, 6274 and 6429).

1985, August 26

No. 6755 By-law amending the by-law concerning signs, billboards and advertising units (Nos. 5128, 5258, 5421, 6274, 6429 and 6518).

1985, December 16

No. 6885 By-law amending the by-law concerning signs, billboards and advertising units (Nos. 5128, 5258, 5421, 6274, 6429, 6518 and 6755).

1986, October 16

No. 7169 By-law amending the by-law concerning signs, billboards and advertising units (Nos. 5128, 5258, 5421, 6274, 6429, 6518, 6755 and 6885).

1989, March 31

No. 8080 By-law providing for discharge payment with respect to violations of By-law No. 5128 (as amended).

1990, April 10

No. 8454 By-law amending the by-law concerning signs, billboards and advertising units (Nos. 5128, 5258, 5421, 6274, 6429, 6518, 6755, 6885, 7169 and 8080).

1991, January 29

No. 8753 By-law amending the by-law concerning signs, billboards and advertising units (Nos. 5128, 5258, 5421, 6274, 6429, 6518, 6755, 6885, 7169, 8080 and 8454).

1992, October 19

No. 9243 By-law amending the by-law concerning signs, billboards and advertising units (No. 5128).

1992, December 11

No. 9287 By-law amending various by-law provisions concerning the amounts of fines.

No. 9534 (french only).

1994, August 8

94-077 By-law concerning the urban planning of the City of Montreal.

Signs must not be mistaken for public signs (No. 464) or be “glaring or harmful,” (No. 465).

Quotas are established (No. 487) for building signs higher than the first two levels above the ground floor: max. area of sign = (Q1 area quota in article 481) x (floor area of an establishment) / 100.

No part of sign laid flat against a building may exceed 16m in height (No. 489).

Signs in Old Montreal are subject to special provisions and approval. They must be in harmony with the architecture of the buildings they are affixed to and in harmony with the atmosphere of the street (No. 510).

By-laws specifically addressing signage at the top of tall buildings is introduced for the first time – Title V, Chapter 1, Section XII Extra Height Sectors. Signs in “extra height sectors” laid flat on the wall of a building at a height over 16m “must be approved in accordance with section III of the By-law concerning the procedure for the approval of construction, alternation or occupancy projects and concerning the Commission Jaques-Viger (chapter P-7)” (513). The criteria for approving or rejecting these signs are: “(a) signs must be in harmony with the architecture of buildings and contribute to their enhancement; (b) the size, number and diversity of signs must correspond to the minimum required to identify the building or its main use, the building itself being the main indicator of its presence or its use; (c) the use of a logo is preferable to written message” (No. 513).

1999, May 17

99–102 By-law concerning cleanliness and protection of public property and street furniture.

Repeals by-law No. 270.

2004, November 23

Montreal Master Plan: citywide development project
Adopted by the City Council on November 23, 2004
Effective as of December 10, 2004.


“The Master Plan is the result of a planning and cooperative process initiated at the Montréal Summit in June 2002. The Master Plan presents a planning and development vision for the City, as well as measures for implementing the goals and objectives resulting from that vision. It consists of three parts.

The contents of the Master Plan address the planning issues and challenges involved in making Montréal a more convivial and dynamic City. With a sustainable development perspective, the Plan’s goals, objectives and actions aim to improve Montrealers’ quality of life, support economic development and ensure a healthy environment.”

Source: City of Montreal website


Regarding signage, a few sections are concerned with asserting Montreal’s island character by improving and harmonizing the signage on the waterside roadway. For example, Action 11.2 of chapter 2.5 in the Master Plan strives for better and clearer signage of features of interest along the Lachine Rapids and certain old villages.

Another concern of the Master Plan is the integration of commercial signage, as well as controlling the installation of signs and billboards to limit their visual impact and respect Montreal’s architectural character.


“The Ville de Montréal intends to develop a Politique sur l’affichage commercial de grandes dimensions et les panneaux-réclames (Policy on Large Commercial Advertising and Billboards) by 2005 to ensure the general improvement of the urban landscape and road safety. The Policy will provide for better control over the use of large commercial advertising and billboards, particularly along thoroughfares. It will also clarify the scope of the provisions of the Charter of the Ville de Montréal that authorize the removal of noncompliant billboards and signs. These provisions currently complement the Act to prohibit commercial advertising along certain thoroughfares. Historical areas that are recognized or classified under the Cultural Property Act are also subject to protective measures with regard to advertising signs and billboards. The Policy could designate other areas where specific control measures should be applied: City gateways, riverbanks, the broad vistas and framed views of Mount Royal and other places that have historical or symbolic value for Montréal. The Policy will also aim to develop innovative control instruments and encourage excellence and creativity in commercial advertising.”

Source: Montreal Master Plan, Chapter 2.5, p. 138.


See chapter 2.5, “High-quality architecture and urban landscapes,” Actions 11.2, 11.6, 12.1 and 14.1, PDF available here.

Full Master Plan available online here.


Tobacco Act, Chapter III, Division III


The operator of a tobacco retail outlet must post a notice prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors and a warning attributed to the Minister concerning the harmful effects of tobacco on health as soon as the signs are provided by the Minister.

2005, c. 29, s. 24.


Such signs must be posted in public view, on or next to each cash register used for tobacco sales.

2005, c. 29, s. 24.


No person may remove or deface such signs.

2005, c. 29, s. 24.


The Minister may make regulations determining the standards applicable to such signs.

2005, c. 29, s. 24.”

Source: Quebec government

See a related news story here.

2001, December 17

No. 01-282: Urban planning by-law
Ville-Marie borough

Title V, Chapter I, Section XII is renamed to: Names of Immovables

Every sign bearing the name of an immovable installed higher than 16m must be approved in accordance with title VIII. The criteria for rejecting or approving these signs are: “(1) signs must be in harmony with the architecture of the building and contribute to its enhancement; (2) signs must be in harmony with the character and atmosphere of the street or sector; (3) the sign area may not be grater than the area determined under the formula E=0.1 m2 x Hf, wqhere E corresponds to the sign area and Hf corresponds to the height at which signs are installed, in multiples of 1m; (4) the use of a detached symbol constituting a logo is preferable to written message; (5) no more than one sign higher than 16m may be visible from the same point, including existing signs” (No. 517).

“The decision to approve or reject signs must be based on the following evaluation criteria: (1) the name of an immovable may not refer to an establishment with an area quota; (2) signs must be in harmony with the architecture of the building or the site development and contribute to their enhancement; (3) signs must be in harmony with the character an atmosphere of the street or sector; (4) the size and number of signs must correspond to the minimum required to identify the immovable” (No. 519).

2004, April 5

By-law No. 01-274-10 amending urban planning by-law No. 01-274
Ahuntsic Cartierville borough
Effective as of May 12, 2004

Name of the by-law: règlement modifiant le règlement d’urbanisme de l’arrondissement Ahuntsic-Cartierville (01-274) de l’ancienne Ville de Montréal et le règlement sur les projets particuliers de construction, de modification ou d’occupation d’une immeuble (RCA02 09007).

490. Sauf pour une enseigne publicitaire autorisée par ordonnance, aucune enseigne publicitaire n’est autorisée dans un secteur ou sur un immeuble significatif, sur un terrain ou un bâtiment bordant la voie panoramique et patrimoniale, sur le lieu d’un bien culturel, d’un arrondissement historique ou naturel, d’un site historique, d’un site du patrimoine et d’un monument historique au sens de la Loi sur les Biens culturels (L.R.Q., chapitre B-4).

Source: City of Montreal website, PDF available here.

2011, June 6

C-3.2 Certificates and permits related to signs
Plateau Mont-Royal borough
Effective as of June 21, 2011

Règlement Sur Le Certificat d’Occupation et Certains Permis (Plateau-Mont-Royal) R.R.V.N. c. C-3.2 (in French only)

Section II.I of this document entitled “Certificat d’autorisation d’affichage” (Sign-posting authorization certificate) discusses authorization certificates necessary to put up signs when a person acquires and moves into a building.

Source: PDF available here.

2012, July 20

Commercial sing-posting permits and authorizations
Plateau Mont-Royal borough

(french only)

This webpage is addressed to citizens interested in putting up a commercial sign. It details the general conditions, the most important being the possession of a “certificat d’autorisation d’affichage” (sign-posting authorization certificate). It suggests to resort to a specialized contractor to design, build and put up the sign.


La Section III du Règlement d’urbanisme de l’arrondissement du Plateau-Mont-Royal, concernant les panneaux publicitaires, a été abrogée le 30 juillet 2010. Les dispositions les interdisant entrera en vigueur en novembre 2010 (règlement 2010-14). Les entreprises possédants les 45 panneaux publicitaires géants auront un an, à partir de la mi-novembre 2010, pour se conformer à la nouvelle réglementation.

Signs with animated or variable messages are only permitted in certain sectors, as they can become a visual nuisance and a potential danger for car drivers. For more information, citizens must go to the Comptoir de renseignements de la Direction de l’aménagement urbain, des services aux entreprises et des affaires publiques.

Signs for demonstrations, festivals, public celebrations, the webpage refers citizen to the Direction de la culture, des sports, des loisirs, des parcs et du développement social. Certain signs with a “societal” character may be approved by the borough council.

The borough council adopted by-law 2010-14 amending the Règlement d’urbanisme (Urban planning by-law), the Règlement sur le certificat d’occupation et certains permis (By-law on occupation certificate and certain permits) the Règlement sur les tarifs (By-law on tariffs) which will allow the removal of certain billboards in the entire borough.

Source: City of Montreal website, PDF available here.

2012, December 3

2012-24 By-law on tariffs
Plateau Mont-Royal borough
Effective as of January 1, 2013

(french only)

By-law name: Règlement sur les tarifs de l’arrondissement du Plateau-Mont-Royal — Exercice financier 2013

By-law detailing the price of various urban planning certificates and authorizations, including signs and billboards.

Source: PDF available here.

2013, February 1

Zoning by-law number CA29 0040; Chapter 18 : Provisions relative to signage
Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough

This document contains 20 pages dedicated to information about signs. It gives some general provisions and the typology of signs. It discusses the following subjects:

– Installation of attached as well as detached signs

– Authorizations and prohibitions regarding signs, namely which types of signs require an authorization to be put up and which ones do not, as well as the locations in which the installation of outdoor signs is prohibited

– Structure, format, message and maintenance of signs

– Calculation rules relative to signs, namely the guidelines for calculating the surface area of signs

– The various zones and their respective land use occupation (housing, commercial, recreational) and the signs authorized for each of them

Source: PDF available here (Chapter 18 corresponds to pages 257-276).

2013, March 4

Bylaw 2012-25 regarding particular architectural details
Plateau Mont-Royal borough
Effective as of March 20, 2013

By-law name: Règlement modifiant le règlement sur les plans d’implantation et d’intégration architecturale de l’arrondissement du Plateau-Mont-Royal

“Les enseignes, les auvents et les bannes doivent s’agencer à l’architecture du bâtiment et ne doivent pas obstruer les portes, fenêtres ou vitrines, ni occulter totalement ou partiellement des détails architecturaux tels que les corniches.”

“The signs, canopies and awnings must harmonize with the architecture of the building and must not obstruct doors, windows or window displays, nor hide either totally or patially architectural details such as cornices” (my own translation)

Source: City of Montreal website, PDF available here.

Updated in 2013

Commercial signs authorizations
Pierrefonds Roxboro

Webpage detailing commercial sign authorization as well as a list of signs that are prohibited, for example a sign that is reminiscent of a standardized road or highway sign because it can be confusing to car drivers. The fees and the application procedure are also described.

Source: City of Montreal website

Currently being updated

Commercial occupancy and signs
Verdun borough

English version

“Anyone who wishes to erect, expand, rebuild, modify, relocate, attach, install, complete or paint a sign within the borough of Verdun must start by obtaining a sign certificate.*

*A site development and architectural integration plan (PIIA, Plan d’implantation et d’intégration architecturale) is required before applying for a sign certificate in the following cases:

– Non-standard sign.

– Sign not attached to building.

– Any sign on Rue Wellington or Rue de l’Église.”

Source (and list of required documents for a sign certificate application): City of Montreal website