Piece by piece, the familiar awnings over Plaza St-Hubert are coming down.

Part of the plaza’s personality, they are being dropped into the garbage as part of a multi-million dollar project to revitalize the street.

“The awning was here when we started, so it's sad to see it go,” said Annie Tchakedjian, who has run jewelry store Bijouterie Chris d’Or for 25 years.

Shoppers love the awnings, said Tchakedjian, because the sidewalk is protected from the elements.

She thinks the glass is coming down too early, because the real work only starts in July of next year.

“They could have waited for an extra year, because that's when they're going to do the full renovations of the aqueduct and that's when a lot of people are going to start to suffer,” she said,

With the full work of replacing aqueducts and sewers and replacement of the sidewalk coming, Tchakedjian is worried shoppers will avoid the hassle.

“Are they going to be able to shop here? Are we going to lose a lot of customers? Will they go to shopping centres?” she said.

Down the street at Senthé tea shop, Lydia Gallant said she is confident her regulars will support her.

“This is a neighbourhood place. On Plaza St-Hubert, there are a lot of people coming from the neighbourhood,” she said.

The merchant's association, however, is concerned.

Association president Mike Parente, who works right in front of the construction site, said he’s been personally assured by Mayor Denis Coderre that businesses won't go empty-handed.

“The mayor has assured us that the city will go forward to compensate the businesses,” he said.

Once the work is completed, new awnings will be installed – in 2021.