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City of Montreal touts success of ‘sanitary corridors,’ critics disagree

City of Montreal boasts lower vehicular traffic thanks to pedestrian corridors
WATCH: In an effort to encourage physical distancing, the city of Montreal has created vast "pedestrian corridors" on key streets. These corridors allow pedestrians to move freely, while maintaining physical distancing. As Global's Felicia Parrillo explains, the city says vehicular traffic has gone down twenty per cent since the pandemic began.

Pedestrian zones like the one on Wellington Street in Verdun are part of an experiment announced months ago by the Plante administration.

It was implemented in an effort to give citizens more room to manoeuvre while maintaining a safe distance from one another, after the COVID-19 lockdown.

The new corridors — which also include ones for cycling — can be found all over the city, from the Plateau to Monkland village and downtown.

“You kind of get like a mall feel, but like open space,” said Montreal resident Alex Coricovat.

“People tend to not get too close, everyone’s wearing masks and it’s very safe.”

Read more: Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce creates more pedestrian walkways, shared streets

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On Thursday, the city announced new data to show that their plan is working.

Mount-royal Ave., which is closed to cars from Parc Avenue to Fullum Street, is seeing on average about 15,000 pedestrians a day at De La Roche Street, its busiest intersection.

Meanwhile, Wellington Street in Verdun, is seeing similar numbers, with an average of 12,000 people a day.

City officials say vehicle traffic across the city is down about 20 per cent since the start of the pandemic.

Read more: Montreal to convert some streets to help pedestrians, cyclists get around amid coronavirus lockdown

But the official opposition says these numbers aren’t proof that people like the idea.

“In effect, there were no concrete data that were demonstrated, they were giving us simply numbers of walkers on a street,” said Francesco Miele, deputy chief of the city’s official opposition.

He and others argue that the new corridors take away much needed parking spaces, in places that already lack it.

“It is kind of getting out of hand. It’s hard to find parking just to go shopping,” Jamal Fraser.

Read more: Drastic changes to Notre-Dame Street have Sud-Ouest merchants seeing red

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The city says they didn’t do any surveys before the project was implemented, but they are currently starting to evaluate whether people are satisfied.

They say doing consultations beforehand would have simply taken too long.

“This spring, we just did not have that time,” said Eric Alan Caldwell, Montreal executive committee member.

Like it or not, the city says the corridors are here to stay — at least until winter sets in.

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