Terraces to re-open Monday, but restaurants fear another round of St-Denis construction
MONTREAL -- Many of Montreal's restaurants are prepared to re-open their terraces on Monday but some are worried construction could force them to remain closed.
Ason-Neil Tremblay, owner of the St-Denis St. staple Clebard, said when he received his terrace permit, he also got a surprise.
“I (was told) they can give me the license, but I'm going to have to get the terrace out for July 15,” he said. “Which means three weeks after I'm building it.”
The construction is to build part of Montreal's new bike path network. In all, 184 kilometres will be added on 17 of the city's major streets.
Tremblay, whose restaurant has been closed for months due to COVID-19, said having customers on the terrace is the only way he can stay afloat financially due to physical distancing measures. While he can normally fit a total of 350 clients, he now expects to be able to accommodate a third of that. He called on the city to delay the project until the fall and allow him and other restaurateurs to cash in on the nice weather.
However, Code Cafe owner Jacques Nacozzi said it would be best to get through the construction as quickly as possible.
“The worst thing to do is defer it to later. It will go to April, May, June, so we'll have work when we have tourists next year, when you have more people coming in,” he said.
St-Denis businesses have been ravaged by a series of construction projects over the past five years. According to the city, a quarter of the storefronts on the street are empty, far above the city's 15 per cent commercial vacancy rate.
While the bike path work won't be as extensive as past projects, it will reconfigure the street to have one lane of traffic in each direction.
On Saturday, borough Mayor Luc Rabourin reached out to Tremblay to explain the construction work will begin near Jean-Talon before heading south and promised the terraces will remain.
“They will be allowed to keep their terrace and I will meet with them to make sure they understand,” Rabourin told CTV News.