Merchants overwhelmed by the work on Pie-IX


A week after the inauguration of the SRB Pie-IX, a huge construction site located at the intersection of rue Jean-Talon, in Montreal, is still causing headaches for many merchants in the area, a problem that will not be resolved before another year.

“I have been here for more than 10 years. I have until September for my lease to end. After that, I will leave. I had four employees, but now I have to work seven days a week,” said Mohamed Sbeity, owner of Sport Station.

Located at the corner of Jean-Talon Street and 23rd Avenue, he was hit hard by the work taking place a few meters from the entrance to his shop. The two businesses that were its neighbors have already gone out of business.

“People who come by car cannot stop. People can no longer come by bus either. Even I have to park 10 minutes away on foot and I am the owner,” he exasperated.

Merchants overwhelmed by the work on Pie-IX

Despite the inauguration of the fast bus service (SRB) Pie-IX after years of work, the artery remains closed at Jean-Talon due to another construction site. This aims to build a pedestrian tunnel that will connect the SRB to the future metro station of the extension of the blue line.

From boulevard Saint-Michel, a sign indicates to motorists that rue Jean-Talon is closed further on, and that only local traffic is allowed. On the other side of the worksite, a similar warning is posted at the intersection of boulevard Provencher.

Brasserie 4040 is located at the intersection of Pie-IX and Jean-Talon, right in the heart of the work. A small pedestrian passage along the fence of the site provides access somehow to its entrance.

“With the works and the COVID, we must be 50% fewer customers,” calculates Lison, who has worked there for 29 years.

For Toufik Lallouche, president of the Commercial Development Company (SDC) of the Petit Maghreb, the situation is “alarming”.

« There is a drop in traffic, a drop in income and we see businesses that are struggling to pay their rent, » he explained.

According to what he observes, only local customers still frequent the businesses of the artery. Despite everything, he retains a certain optimism. The SDC is in discussion, according to him, with the City and the STM on the terms of an aid program.

He also believes that the situation will improve over time.

“The hope that we give them, currently, is that we motivate them, that after the opening of the SRB and the blue line, that it will really give more possibilities to increase your number of business. There will be a lot of traffic, a lot of customers from outside who will visit the thoroughfare. This is the promise we give them.

A few still hold their own as best they can. This is the case of the 1000000 Comix store.

“It’s a bit complicated to come, but not too much. The world wants their comics, so they’ll find a way. We have a niche clientele. They are loyal”, revealed, in a burst of laughter, the owner of the business, Emilio Vassallo.

A deserted mall

Located in the heart of the construction site, the Le Boulevard shopping center also seems to be greatly affected by the situation. Inside, only a few rare businesses are still installed on the premises, giving the place the air of a ghost town.

By a combination of circumstances, the STM became, despite itself, the owner of the shopping center in 2021. It wanted to expropriate part of the land for the extension of the blue line. The Crofton Moore company challenged the decision, claiming instead a complete expropriation of the land, which the administrative tribunal of Quebec (TAQ) granted to it.

Owner of the Olivine jewelry store, Stéphanie Vézina would like to see more customers, rented premises or “action”.

“I’ve been here a long time, I have a good clientele, but there wasn’t much choice elsewhere either. I looked for another room, but there is none,” she noted.

Manager of Urban Depot, Sally is also saddened by the drop in traffic and the large number of closed stores. Despite everything, she is optimistic that the situation will improve once the work is completed. « We support it for the best that is coming, » she hopes.

Required by City

“We are aware that cohabiting with major works in front of your home or in front of your business is not an obvious situation for anyone. However, we must continue to develop and maintain our city and our infrastructure,” said Luc Rabouin, responsible for economic development on the city’s executive committee, in a written statement.

He recalled that the City has set up an aid program for traders located in sectors affected by “major” work.

“We have also revised its criteria this year to allow even more affected merchants to obtain financial assistance by raising the maximum subsidies,” he added.


Back to top button