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94% of downtown Montreal streets were closed at some point last year, report finds


A whopping 94 per cent of streets in downtown Montreal were closed at one point or another last year because of construction, a new report has found.

The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, which conducted the report, argues the seemingly never-ending construction has affected the city's image -- and its productivity.

To fix this, the report suggests a series of solutions, such as incentivizing developers to reduce the amount of public space they occupy, adapting the use of construction indicators (i.e. orange cones), and establishing a QR-code system to inform the population about a given project.

According to Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Michel Leblanc, one major issue is a lack of planning between private contractors and the city.

As it stands, developers, who make up two-thirds of the construction sites in downtown Montreal, aren't required to coordinate with municipal authorities.

"We need a platform for planning and coordinating that is mandatory," Leblanc told CTV News.

"Everybody wants fluidity but no one thinks it's their business to make sure there's a little bit more fluidity," he said.

The absence of oversight can lead to frustrating and preventable outcomes. For example, builders often "use the public space to store machinery and materials," Leblanc added.

The chamber says coordination should be part of the permitting process -- and the president of the city's executive committee says it's ready to act.

"I think it is our responsibility to make sure that our rules and reglementation is more robust, and we're working that," said Dominique Ollivier.

Ollivier says she hopes to have a plan in place before the busy summer months, when, according to Tourisme Montréal, orange cones tarnish the city's image and reputation.

"Visitors now see it. They observe it," says Yves Lalumiere, president and general director of Tourisme Montréal. "It's unacceptable for a city that's so attractive to the population, to the visitors, to have this type of situation."

SDC Montréal Centre-Ville, the downtown merchants' association, says the Quebec transport ministry (MTQ)'s rules on cones and signage don't make sense in the downtown context.

"It's not rare to see one crane on the street for less than 10 square feet of space, and then nearly 100 orange cones around it as required by the MTQ bylaws," said executive director Glenn Castanheira.

In fact, the report found that 27 per cent of construction indicators observed were abandoned, useless or without purpose.

Leblanc admits that implementing these changes will require innovation and time, but says they're necessary for a thriving downtown, especially as the sector recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The question at this moment is, can we make it easier for workers to come back downtown after the pandemic?" Top Stories

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