COP15 at the Palais des Congrès: companies fear mayhem

Traders located near the Palais des Congrès in downtown Montreal fear being victims of looting and vandalism during demonstrations that will take place on the sidelines of the conference on biodiversity.

“If they start breaking all the windows, it’s sure that there will be theft, worries Lucio Daddario, owner of the Café du Parquet. We have a bar and a kitchen. There’s going to be damage if they get in here. »

Mr. Daddario claims to have been informed by the managers of his building of the risk of mayhem around his glazed business which overlooks the huge fences forming the security perimeter around the Palais des Congrès for COP15 which takes place from December 7 to 19. . The perimeter extends from Avenue Viger Ouest to Rue Saint-Antoine Ouest, then from Rue Saint-Urbain to Place Jean-Paul Riopelle.

“It’s worrying because we’re right on the corner,” explains Mr. Daddario. They made the fence in front of us. »

An invitation to the demonstrators to go

Photo taken from Facebook

An invitation to the demonstrators to go « attack the Palace » of the congresses.

« Storming the Palace »

At least two demonstrations organized by the “Anti-capitalist and environmentalist coalition against COP15” are scheduled for December 7 and 9, according to their website.

“Storming the Palace,” reads a poster advertising it on their website.

“Let’s be in the front row to show them that we are not gullible. Let’s put them in full view, ”he wrote in a press release on this same site.

« Our concern is not the people who demonstrate, but the excesses, » says Glenn Castanheira, general manager of Montreal downtown, who fears in particular « looting » and « vandalism ».

“There is often a small group of troublemakers who want to take advantage of the situation to cause mayhem,” he adds. This is of course what worries us and some managers. »

Especially since an event like COP15 involves additional risks given the significant visibility that will be given to the demonstrators, according to. Mr Castanheira.

Victims in the past

At the Toqué! restaurant, located a few steps from the Café du Parquet, co-owner Christine Lamarche talks every “two or three days” with the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) and the City of Montreal.

« They tell us: we don’t know if you should stay open or closed, » she says. For now, we’re open, but I won’t hide from you that it discourages some customers. »

Especially since the restaurant, used to demonstrations in Place Jean-Paul Riopelle, has already experienced excesses in the past.

“We have already had demonstrators who returned, who scared people in the restaurant, says Ms. Lamarche. They had left with a bottle of wine, they had made a hole in the wall with a piece of wood and hit one of my waiters. It wasn’t fun. »

« As each situation may change, the police will be present to avoid any overflow and will intervene if there are offenses or risks to the safety of persons and property, » said the SPVM’s communications division by email.

A company moves for a month

A company neighboring COP15 decided to relocate its operations altogether for more than a month after its employees expressed fears for their safety.

Carmela Martinez.  President MP Repro

Photo QMI Agency, Joêl Lemay

Carmela Martinez. President MP Repro

“My employees have to feel safe, says Carmela Martinez, president of MP Repro. To me, that’s more important than keeping a counter open. »

His printing company has offices on the ground floor on rue Chenneville, a few steps from the Palais des Congrès. During COP15 and until January, its six employees will be transferred to the Ville Saint-Laurent head office.

“When there were the red square demonstrations, there was a lot of police and violence right next to our building,” explains Ms. Martinez. Our employees remember that, so they are worried and I have to react to that. »


Ms. Martinez deplores the lack of information given by the authorities. Among other things, she maintains that she had great difficulty knowing whether demonstrations would be organized, and it was by seeing posters on rue Saint-Antoine announcing a demonstration that she was able to learn about them.

“We did not have the right time from anyone. We ask questions to the City, to the Palace, to the police and we never have the whole story. We have to do the planning ourselves without clear information. »

To limit the damage in the event of broken windows, she paid $800 to put special films on them.

“If the window breaks, there will be no glass everywhere. We don’t take chances. »

“Not happy” customers

“My clients are not happy to come to Ville Saint-Laurent,” explains Ms. Martinez. This adds another difficulty. We try to make arrangements with them, and go and deliver to them, and that increases my costs. »

Like most of the traders consulted by Le Journal, Ms. Martinez intends to have her company compensated.

Glenn Castanheira, general manager of Montreal centre-ville, indicates that his organization will seek a “form of compensation” from the companies affected from the federal government, which is responsible for the organization of COP15.

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