Don't move our terrasses: Old Montreal restaurant owners to city
Published Sunday, May 29, 2016 5:27PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, May 29, 2016 7:03PM EDT
A group of restaurant owners in Old Montreal's Jacques-Cartier Square is demanding a meeting with Mayor Denis Coderre.
They say the city needs to back down on plans to move their terrasses into the centre of the square – and they're threatening legal action if the city won't reconsider.
Servers in Old Montreal would soon be forced to weave through crowds of tourists to get to their tables.
“It's going to be difficult for us to cross all the people walking around and go with the trays, and if it's raining here… we have a roof, so it's easier for us to serve our customers,” said Marie-Laure Solenas, the manager of John Michael’s Pub.
This summer, the city plans to invest $5 million to give the street a makeover, which includes installing a centralized patio in the middle of the square for the city's 375th next year.
Restaurant owners in the area aren't pleased.
“Maybe it's nice for photos, but it's not nice for work. It's much too difficult,” said Eric Luksenberg of Restaurant St. Amable.
Inspired by the recent injunction granted to the Old Montreal caleche drivers, they hope they have a case as well.
“We’re waiting for a meeting with the mayor and if we don't have one this week, we’ll go to the courthouse to speak with a judge,” said Luksenberg.
Robert Ruel owns Jardin Nelson, one of the busiest terrasses in the square.
“What we've been told is that our terrasse that is to the wall now will be moved and it will be about seven metres from our building,” said Ruel, adding that the distance is a security risk for servers and a health risk for customers.
Restaurant owners here aren't the only ones who feel their concerns haven't been heard. Street artists will also be affected by the centralized terrasse. Artist permits will be reduced from 21 down to nine, and they will also be moved to the top of the square.
“For us, it's not good because people at the city, people inside, they don’t know how the street works,” said street artist Yves Dufresne.
The Quebec Association of Restaurateurs supports the restaurant owners and wrote a letter to the mayor expressing their concerns.
Ruel said someone from the city met with them last year, and that it wasn't much of a consultation process.
“No notes were taken,” he said. “They came, but they did not listen. They have their own idea.”
Construction is slated to begin in August.
Mayor Coderre had no comment as to whether or not he would be meeting with the restaurant owners later this week.