Bishop St. merchants to sue City of Montreal over construction woes
Published Saturday, April 15, 2017 5:54PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 15, 2017 7:33PM EDT
On Montreal’s Crescent St, warm weather means big business. Terrasses are full, teeming with patrons eager to enjoy the mild weather-- more are going up every day.
However, just one block away, the street tells a much different story.
Bishop St, between Ste-Catherine and De Maisonneuve is visibly a construction zone.
And local merchants aren’t happy. In fact, several local shop owners are planning to confront the city of Montreal and the STM with a lawsuit—they allege that the ongoing construction is killing their business, and driving away clients.
Many feel that they won’t be able to stay open much longer.
“We are in survival mode. It's not even about four years, lasting a year is extremely tough, we're extremely worried,” explained Carlo Zagabi, owner of Gourmet Burger.
Five Bishop street businesses are joining forces to file a lawsuit against both the City of Montreal and the STM. Business owners are asking for $2500 in restitution for every month that construction continues.
Also among their demands is free advertising space within the Guy-Concordia metro, as well as a path for easier access.
They believe that it’s the least that the city can do.
“They have the power and the duty to do infrastructure work because the city is getting old,” said lawyer Jamie Benizri. “We’re cool with that, but given the time, the forecast for the work—which is four years—is beyond what any reasonable merchant can last in terms of trying to weather the storm.”
The work on the strip has been underway since last fall, and is only expected to conclude by 2020. The work on the street is part of the project to build a ventilation system for the nearby Guy-Concordia metro.
The STM says that they are unaware of the pending suit at this time.
Merchants in the area say that business on Bishop normally ebbs and flows, slowing down to a handful of daily customers by November. Still, the tenuous situation is worsened by the strip’s transformation to construction zone.
Some optimistic shopkeepers, however, are trying to refine their environments. In front of Café Ferrari, a makeshift garden is set up along the wire grill of a construction barrier, in hopes of improving the view.