After a groundswell of complaints against changes to the traffic patterns on Notre-Dame Street West, Montreal’s Sud-Ouest borough is backing down.
In a late-night Facebook post in French on Thursday, Sud-Ouest borough mayor Benoit Dorais said the local administration had “made the decision to withdraw the temporary installations and explore other ways of supporting local businesses.”
The decision to turn the ordinarily two-way, thoroughfare into a one-lane, one-way, westbound street from Vinet to Workman streets added significant pedestrian space to the area. It was initially scheduled to be in place for eight weeks, but it drew the ire of local merchants who said it was creating a nightmare for business.
Michael Stratulak, the owner of Beige store on the street, told Global News on Thursday that the move was “done out of the blue” and without consultation.
In his post on Facebook, however, Dorais suggested that was not true, saying the borough had worked with the local chamber of commerce to develop the traffic changes.
“For several months and in collaboration with the SDC des Quartiers du Canal, we had been working on the deployment of an active safe lane on Notre-Dame Street between Workman and Vinet,” he said, adding that “despite the enthusiasm of the SDC des Quartiers du Canal, it seems that this development was not favoured by local merchants.”
Notre-Dame is far from the only major street in Montreal to see partial or full pedestrianization since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring.
Similar “sanitary corridors,” intended to give local residents space to walk around their neighbourhood while maintaining recommended social distance, have cropped up everywhere from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce’s Monkland Village to the Plateau’s Mount Royal Avenue to Ontario Street in the Gay Village.
They have proven polarizing, with many pedestrians praising the increased space, but many motorists lamenting the loss of parking.