On Your Side: Old Montreal store owners outraged over street closure
Published Monday, April 4, 2011 3:54PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 7, 2012 2:40PM EDT
MONTREAL- Store owners in Old Montreal want compensation from city hall after their stores were cut off from the public by emergency repairs.
The problem began on March 13, 2011 when part of a building on Notre Dame St. West near St. Laurent Blvd. collapsed.
The street was closed for ten days so construction crews could repair the damage.
There is currently only one lane open, and pedestrians face an obstacle course of orange pylons on the sidewalk.
Virginia Champoux, who owns the Mortimer Snodgrass store on Notre-Dame, says business has dropped immensely since the street closure.
"It's worse than the economic downturn," Champoux said. "It's worse than anything we've ever faced this far."
2010 report listed necessary building repairs
Champoux and other business owners say that city officials knew before the building collapsed that repairs were needed and that they should be done "as soon as possible."
The city of Montreal bought 25 Notre Dame St. West in 2008 with the intention of repairing the heritage building and selling it to a developer.
In 2010 the city hired SNC Lavalin to inspect the structure and recommend repairs.
That report was finished in November, and according to a copy shown to CTV News, it concludes "that the work be done as soon as possible to ensure public safety."
City spokesperson Gonzalo Nunez said that the 2010 report did not indicate any immediate danger to public safety, and that the city followed protocol by issuing a call for tenders for repairs before the building collapsed.
The work is scheduled to begin in May or June and end in August.
No work was done before the east side of the building collapsed last month.
"The situation occurred on a Sunday," said Champoux. "They closed the street and by Monday we were out of customers."
Opposition says city should have acted sooner
Francois Robillard is the councillor for Old Montreal, and is part of the opposition Vision Montreal party.
He said the city should have acted sooner.
"My understanding is that the city knew what had to be done and didn't act like a good, advised building owner to make the corrections necessary to the public safety," said Robillard.
One lane of the street has now re-opened.
Moshe Simhon, the owner of NRJ Jeans, says the work should be rushed to completion.
"I think they should work 24 hours (a day) to finish the job before the summer," said Simhon. "Let us do whatever we have to do to serve the customers."
Some merchants are now seeking compensation for the ongoing street closures.
Champoux is worried that the work will take too long, and will drastically affect her sales during the busy summer tourist season.
The city said it plans to have a publicity campaign to let people know the stores are open despite the construction work.
To date, Champoux says the campaign has had no effect.