Southwest borough votes to restrict restaurants
Published Tuesday, November 1, 2016 11:00PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, November 2, 2016 9:52AM EDT
The Southwest borough has voted to limit the number of restaurants on one of its most popular streets.
With a unanimous vote, councillors voted to restrict the number of restaurants on Notre Dame St. between St. Remi, to Highway 10.
Councillors said their goal is to encourage diversity, and not have the street turn into a restaurant row.
"We want to have commercial diversity because we have to serve the citizens who live here with bakeries, food stores, services," said Craig Sauvé. "They need laundromats and dry cleaners too, not just restaurants
The borough is hoping the decision to keep new restaurants at least 25 metres apart will also prevent rental prices from soaring.
In June Café St. Henri said it was considering moving after its rent tripled, going from $21,600 in 2010 to $59,500 in 2016.
The building's owner said the rise in price was due to the area becoming more popular -- and the substantial increase in property taxes.
Many residents oppose the idea, saying that the borough should let the market decide what businesses will succeed, and what rent is acceptable.
"I remember many years when those store fronts were vacant for many, many years and now we're deciding things are going good... they're going too good?" said Derek Robertson.
The St. Henri resident does not think the restrictions will work.
"I think we really need to look at what businesses are there now and help them expand and prosper, and serve the company," said Robertson.
Political analyst Karim Boulos agrees.
"Now the demand is restaurants and if that shifts, it will shift. But I think market forces have to determine it, not political orientation," said Boulos.
He fears the borough is trying to micromanage the area.
"I don't know that it's that simple as we limit the restaurants or a bead shop will pop up or a health food store or a vitamin shop. That's not how it works," said Boulos.
The Merchants Association, Quartier du Canal, said it can work with the restrictions.
Mario Andrews of Quartier du Canal said the high end restaurants don't cater to everyone.
"We want to try and avoid having [an area] full of restaurants and then in five years after, everything dies because of that," said Andrews.
Borough officials said they will re-evaluate the bylaw and its impact on Notre Dame St. in two years.
In the meantime, Andrews hopes officials will be willing to make other changes.
"Maybe we can get the commercial taxes lower because we pay more taxes as a business than a renting space," he said.
The bylaw is already facing a battle.
Vinod Kapoor spent millions on a building on Notre Dame St. with the goal of opening a restaurant -- something the new bylaw prevents.
He has now launched a petition to try and force a referendum overturning the bylaw for at least part of the street.