An NDG small business owner has launched a petition demanding officials do more to make Sherbrooke Street West more appealing to potential customers.
Two years ago, Sandrine Campeau left a desk job to open Sandrini Confections on Sherbrooke. Selling ice cream and other sweets was a dream come true for her, but now she fears that dream might be coming to a bitter end.
“I have clients that come in on a daily basis and tell me that they don’t enjoy walking on Sherbrooke, that it smells, that there’s garbage, that they’re concerned sometimes even for safety,” Campeau told Global News.
She says her business relies heavily on foot traffic, and that for months she’s been lobbying local politicians to make Sherbrooke a more welcoming place to walk. She’s not alone.
“This current administration has a focus on like being green and being eco and walking and bike riding. But if you don’t support small businesses in the neighbourhood, there will be nowhere to walk to or nowhere to ride your bike to,” said Sarah Miller-Barrington, who manages nearby pet supplies shop Doghaus.
“I think we’ve been ignored and I don’t understand it.”
Campeau can’t help but notice that just a few blocks north, Monkland Avenue is bustling.
“You have clients who say, ‘I go on Monkland because it’s prettier, it’s safer, it’s nicer.’ How do I respond to that?” she wonders.
NDG resident Ximena Mejia-Bastos feels that Monkland is better maintained than Sherbrooke.
“I can see the difference between the attention that Monkland gets and the attention Sherbrooke gets,” she told Global News.
Fed up, Campeau decided to start a petition demanding elected officials improve Sherbrooke.
“We need change,” the business owner said.
Projet Montreal city councillor Peter McQueen points to his party easing terrasse rules and adding small parks like the one at Royal and Sherbrooke.
“We’re always looking at ways to improve Sherbrooke Street,” he said.
McQueen explained that heavy traffic and the bus lane are limiting factors.
“We can’t just go into the street with the terrasses like you can on some of the other thoroughfares,” he told Global News.
Ensemble Montreal NDG mayoral candidate Lionel Perez prefers to focus on the basics.
“We need to make sure that the streets are clean, that the arteries don’t have any trash lying around, ensure that the lighting is there properly at the right times,” Perez said.
Ashley Thornton, an Ensemble Montreal candidate for city councillor, said she supports the petition.
“It is just a clear indication that Sherbrooke has not been heard. I think that anybody that passes by or walks down Sherbrooke can witness that,” Thornton said.
Current independent mayor Sue Montgomery pointed to new money going toward fixing up the area’s main arteries.
“Last night, we voted to give money to businesses. Obviously, they are the heart of the borough and we want to support them any way we can. It’s a priority for Equipe Courage to beautiful our commercial streets,” she told Global News.
Montgomery said she wants to install more mini-parks. For Campeau, it might already be too late.
“This just may be the end, because the numbers just don’t make sense,” said Campeau. “I’ve tried to keep my head above water for, like, the last year and a half.”
She’s already planning to leave Sherbrooke when her lease is up, adding another “à louer” sign to the landscape.