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Why some West Island businesses are furious about a food festival at their doorstep

Two strip mall merchants in the West Island of Montreal have closed for several days while a festival goes on at their doorstep.

The Pointe-Claire Deli and Bramble House shared on social media that while Le Grand PoutineFest is ongoing in the parking lot out front—they are closed.

Both businesses and others in the Valois area say they weren't notified that a big festival was already planned. The first warning was when temporary fences were erected around their parking lot on Donegani Avenue.

True to the name, Le Grand PoutineFest is expecting 5,000 visitors this weekend—and that estimate came after the event reduced its size to fit the location.

"The city gave us the permit, so we're all legit here, and they chose the location for us," said organizer Maude Couillard, adding she didn't think an alternative venue was an option.

Pointe-Claire City Councillor Eric Stork says he was as surprised as the merchants.

"Events of this scale are usually approved by council, and this one was not. Personally myself, I would never approve such an event," he said.

While he doesn't believe there is anything wrong with the event, it's problematic to host it "on a lot the size of a postage stamp with limited parking."


A ladies-wear shop was planning a big sale this weekend. Owner Roz Gilbert says PoutineFest organizers even helped her bring merchandise into the store. But she doesn't know if her clients will come out, and she is upset with the city.

"It's horrible, really horrible what they have done to us, especially a weekend we invested a lot of time with. This is our main weekend of clearance," said Gilbert.

"More than anything it would have been good to have a warning," added her daughter, Samantha Gilbert.

The outdoor Marché Valois Market that happens every Saturday in the parking lot has been moved three blocks west to Valois Park.

Karen Losinger usually sells jam at that market, but not this weekend since the new location is smaller with limited capacity.

Losinger says she doesn't blame the festival, just the city.

"I think the fest is great. I think the fact that they were given this location is not great. The village is too small," she said.

In an email to CTV News, The Valois Merchants Association says it was unaware of the event.

Feeling bad about the impact, Le Grand PoutineFest is offering free food to folks who spend a hundred dollars at the mall's stores. Certain conditions apply.


Pointe-Claire Mayor Tim Thomas admits the event will have an impact.

"Sometimes businesses are niche markets where they depend on people coming from all over for their niche product, so by having a mass population event, sometimes it hurts specific niche market businesses, so I feel for them if that is indeed the case," he said.

On Thursday, the City of Pointe-Claire posted a statement on its website saying that it would "review its procedures in order to better organize special events moving forward."

It says the city worked with the event promoter to limit the impact on businesses and freed up a row of parking spaces for visitors. Barriers were also moved to allow better access to the shops.

Mayor Thomas says there is room for improvement.

"The communication has to be resolved, and we have to learn from the experience for sure," he said in an interview.

City staff will be on-site over the weekend to guide traffic and direct visitors to parking spaces.

-With files from CTV's Keila DePape Top Stories

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