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City plans to crack down on vacant storefronts along Montreal's St-Laurent Blvd.


The City of Montreal wants to do something about all the empty buildings and vacant lots along St-Laurent Blvd. with a new bylaw to crack down on building owners.

"The Main," as it's known, has long been a mishmash of cultures. These days, it's also a patchwork of another sort: new buildings are mixed with the old alongside vacant lots and boarded-up buildings.

The street's vacant and abandoned buildings are unacceptable, said Montreal city councillor and executive committee member Robert Beaudry, who is responsible for urban planning.

"It gives more insecurity. It also could be dangerous," he said.

He wants to ensure these empty buildings are used as cultural, commercial or residential spaces.

"There's a lot of opportunity right now to rent this kind of building, and it's empty. There's a demand for it," he said.

According to Beaudry, the city plans to introduce a new bylaw in the coming months that would pressure owners to use their properties. Some that sit empty aren't even on the market.

Real estate speculation is a growing problem, said Cedric Dussault, spokesperson for housing advocacy group RCLALQ.

"Right now, we're seeing an open market on real estate and it's having devastating effects on renters, on homeowners," he said. "This kind of situation is more problematic at the context of a major housing crisis."

There are some residential developments in the works.

Student housing is planned at the site of the former Katacombes Bar, at the corner of Ontario St.

The former Katacombes Bar will be turned into student housing.

Other spaces could be rented out, said Beaudry.

He wants real estate owners to ensure buildings don't fall into disrepair.

"We invest a lot as a city to promote this boulevard, but we also want to be sure that those who are private owners take care of those buildings. Some are still heritage buildings," he said.

Beaudry wouldn't say exactly what the new regulations will entail but did say it will affect all of the city's commercial streets. Top Stories

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