By Alain Tittley
Special collaboration

A proven solution to stimulate economic recovery while improving the quality of life of Montrealers.

To counter the effects of the pandemic and propel the economic recovery, the City of Montreal has supported several pedestrianization projects that have stimulated the commercial vitality of many boroughs, and which have been a great success with the population.

It is in this context that the City of Montreal recently launched a call for projects to all of its boroughs to support new pedestrianization plans taking effect in the summer of 2021. Thirteen projects focused on the quality of development and developed in consultation with local merchants were selected, then implemented by the boroughs. In all, $ 4 million was invested to support pedestrian development initiatives affecting portions of Saint-Laurent Boulevard, Mont-Royal Avenue and Duluth Avenue, Bernard, Saint-Denis and De Castelnau streets. , Ontario, Wellington and Masson, Place du Marché-du-Nord as well as Sainte-Catherine Street East and Sainte-Catherine Street West.

A collaborative approach
As Noémie Lucas, Economic Development Commissioner for the City of Montreal, explains, the key to success for projects of this scale is a concerted approach, which guarantees results that are as tangible as they are positive. “To put in place a coherent pedestrianization plan, it is essential that all stakeholders – such as municipal services, boroughs, SDCs or associations of traders, business people and citizens – are involved in all throughout the process, from conception to completion. “

A point of view shared by Claude Rainville, general manager of the Société de développement commercial (SDC) de l’Avenue du Mont-Royal: “We are currently in a movement where we must redefine and rethink local commerce in a context of exit from the crisis. We talk about it a lot, we say that it is important, but we have to create the right conditions for it to work. It is essential to promote the integration of all the elements so that there is a certain harmony on the site and that the traffic is at the rendezvous. “

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Rethinking public space
The fact is recognized: the pedestrianization of a commercial artery promotes the development of a feeling of belonging and security among its users. However, it must be adapted to frequenting new customers and to a new way of using public space. For example, stations have been specially fitted out on certain arteries to accommodate people working from home. In all cases, designers have been called upon to make these spaces as inviting as they are functional in order to encourage workers not only to settle there, but also to return and frequent neighboring businesses. “The use of Montreal designers was one of the conditions of the call for projects,” underlines Noémie Lucas.

It is in this context favorable to local creativity that Le Comité – a cooperative of urban development workers – was involved in the pedestrianization project piloted by the SDC of the Latin Quarter. “Our mandate was to enhance the Saint-Denis coast by creating sustainable developments,” explains Émilie Gagnon, co-founder of the cooperative. Our modules had to be versatile and mobile to meet different needs. So we designed a placard user-friendly, which acts as a symbol of the new visual identity of the trade association. For the co-founder, arrangements of this type redefine the very vocation of public spaces. “They can attract tourists or become meeting points for regulars of the Saint-Denis commercial artery,” she concludes.

Avenue du Mont-Royal, the longest pedestrian street in Montreal
The City of Montreal funded a summer project by the SDC de l’A Avenue du Mont-Royal on the development of the segment between Boulevard Saint-Laurent and Rue Fullum. A nerve center where there are some 400 local shops. “The pedestrianized avenue du Mont-Royal stretches for more than 2.5 kilometers,” comments Claude Rainville, Director General of the SDC. Many people told us that the new layout allowed them to discover businesses they didn’t know existed when they drove down the street. Instinctively, people circulate in the middle of a pedestrian street. They take their time, and there is something about this behavior that evokes quality of life, urban appropriation. It is as if commerce is part of the public domain rather than just a place of transactions. “

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Commercial leverage
The pedestrian arteries of the City of Montreal support the ecosystems in which they are located, and the open space constitutes a real commercial lever for merchants.

As the projects are supported by promotional campaigns, traders benefit from increased visibility and the enhancement of local purchasing.

For restaurateurs and bar owners, the fact that they can expand their terraces and accommodate more customers in a safe environment is a major asset. “We work in close collaboration with the City’s Economic Development Department to be able to assess the traffic and the satisfaction of consumers who visit the site,” adds Claude Rainville.

Committed traders
The repercussions of pedestrianization are numerous, and although some voices are raised regarding the temporary loss of parking spaces, a positive consensus seems to be emerging among the businesses affected. This is the case for Andrée-Anne Laurin, owner of Loco, a chain of ecological and zero waste neighborhood grocery stores. “We have four grocery stores in Montreal, two of which are on pedestrian streets, namely avenue du Mont-Royal and avenue Wellington in Verdun. Pedestrianization creates a spirit of community between traders. We really succeed in helping each other and creating a dynamic space where we organize activities together. Pedestrian streets also encourage the population to use active transport such as cycling or walking, which makes them real living spaces. Andrée-Anne Laurin adds that she appreciated the collaborative approach of the projects. “We have been involved throughout the process and the SDC has provided us with a lot of information to support our success. ”

This content was produced by Le Devoir’s special publications team in collaboration with the advertiser. Le Devoir’s editorial team played no role in the production of this content.

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