Bishop Street merchants gearing up for court fight over lengthy construction work
The ongoing construction work on Bishop Street, between de Maisonneuve and Sainte-Catherine Street, has taken its toll on local-area businesses and on Wednesday a group of merchants decided to fight back.
The struggling businesses started legal proceedings in Quebec Superior Court against both the City of Montreal and the Société de transport de Montréal (STM).
They argue infrastructure work to build a mechanical ventilation post at the nearby Guy-Concordia Metro station has driven customers away resulting in a steep loss in revenues.
The merchants involved in the court request, claim the area is difficult to access for pedestrians and the parking spaces have all been monopolized by construction crews.
“Parking is a big one,” said Mike Cloghesy, co-owner of Mesa 14.
“Accessibility from Sainte Catherine is very big also. We noticed that on Sundays, when there’s a lot of tourists and shopping, people can’t find us. We’re invisible.”
The work began in October 2016 and is expected to continue for at least another three years, which the merchants say could spell disaster for some of the restaurants and bars on the street.
Elio Schivani, who has owned Ferrari restaurant for the last 36 years said there’s no way businesses like his can survive.
“The people we used to have at nights or whatever, we don’t have anymore,” he said.
“It’s impossible to get here. We cannot go on this way.”
Five businesses involved in the legal proceedings including Mesa 14, Ferrari, the Gourmet Burger, Kafein, Craft and grilled cheese, claim they could be forced into bankruptcy if nothing changes.
Schiavi said over the last few months, he, along with the other merchants, have proposed different ways the STM could help them survive the construction, like setting up pine tree branches on fences to help beautify the area.
But Schiavi said their suggestions were turned down.
The business owners say they had no choice but to turn to the legal system.
“After these propositions, we are obligated to do something – because it’s gonna be the end of our business,” he said.
That’s why the group is asking the city and the STM to bring in new measures to offset the negative impacts caused by the construction work.
Some of the proposed measures include:
- Free advertising in the Peel and Guy Concordia metro stations and in streets neighbouring Bishop Street
- Improving pedestrian access by building a foot path
- Freeing up parking spaces reserved for businesses
- Banning excessive noise during peak business hours
The merchants are also asking for $2,500 in financial compensation to be awarded retroactively to affected businesses for every month of infrastructure work.
Additionally the group is asking for $25,000 to hire an engineering firm to offer possible ways of shortening the timeline.
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