LaSalle merchants say street reconfiguration hurting businesses

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WATCH: Merchants on Dollard Avenue in LaSalle say their businesses have suffered ever since the street was redesigned. As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, a petition is circulating to support small businesses in the area who say they're on the verge of bankruptcy.

The Ramdass Foods store in Montreal’s LaSalle borough has been Emily Ramdass’ second home for most of her life.

It’s one of the oldest West Indian stores in the country and was opened by her parents in 1973 after they immigrated from Trinidad and Tobago.

“Customers say ‘I’ve known you since you were a baby,'” she smile.

“Like literally, they’ve known me since I was a baby.”

She runs the store now, but said she doesn’t know how much longer it will last.

“That’s a really hard question to answer,” she says as she fights back tears.

“It’s a very painful question to answer because I don’t know if we will survive.”

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Ramdass says the store has seen a steady decline in business because customers aren’t coming in — and she blames it on a recent reconfiguration of Dollard Avenue in Lasalle.

The borough insisted it had to make changes because there were too many accidents on the street.

“We decided that, that street would not allow any left turn when you leave a business,” explained borough mayor Manon Barbe.

Ramdass argued drivers now have a hard time accessing the store; if they’re going south on Dollard Avenue, they are now forced to make a U-turn because the entrance from Saguenay Street is closed.

It’s the same problem at other intersections between Newman Boulevard and Jean-Brillon Street, so several other merchants told Global News they, too, may have to close down.

“Before [the reconfiguration] it was good,” Coq-O-Bec restaurant manager Ravneet Singh told Global News.
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“The people could straightway enter the plaza [from Lithuania Street] and the rush was good, but now there’s a great drop these days.”

The borough insists merchants agreed to the reconfiguration and drivers will eventually get used to it.

“People are driving a car,” stressedBarbe.

“They have to develop a new way to get to where they want to go.”

Ramdass said she hopes the borough will change its mind — and she also hopes she’ll be compensated for lost revenue.