Sud-Ouest borough examines solutions for merchants as Notre-Dame Street work plans carry on

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Sud-Ouest borough to look at ways of helping Notre-Dame St. businesses during repair work
WATCH: Terrasse season may be over before it begins for a number of restaurants along Notre-Dame Street in the Sud-Ouest borough, thanks to a major upcoming construction project. As Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports, restaurant owners say the timing couldn't be worse – Mar 30, 2022

The Sud-Ouest borough says it is examining a number of solutions to help merchants deal with the upcoming Notre-Dame Street construction project as the timetable remains unchanged.

After meeting with a number of notable Notre-Dame Street restaurant and cafe owners, the borough says it will look to mitigate the damage done by the major street closure.

“The meeting was productive and we are following up on technical questions that were raised such as the exact, precise location of the manholes that will be used for the rehabilitation through the lining technique,” borough spokesperson Julie Bélanger said.

There is also the possibility of permitting the installation of terrasses on the corner of side streets that run along Notre-Dame.

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According to a pamphlet distributed by the company behind the project Wednesday, the work is set to begin April 11 and will last until June 10.

Works crews will be repairing and replacing a water main under Notre-Dame Street between Vinet Street and Atwater Avenue.

“Right now it feels like a great moment in the city, where everything is open at full capacity and masks are coming off in two weeks. It’s the return to normal,” Alessandro Ghirotto, co-owner of Stem Bar, said.

Customers are on a euphoric high as restaurants open to full capacity, Ghirotto said, but this latest borough announcement really dampens the wave restaurant owners along the popular street were riding.

“Do you want to be sitting in a dimly lit restaurant or do you want to be sitting in the sun? Easily 99 per cent of people will ask, ‘Can we have a spot on the terrasse?'” Ghirotto said.

Toby Lyle, co-owner of the Burgundy Lion Pub, worries not having patios during the openings weeks of good weather will hurt the business for the entire summer season.

“It’s the kind of thing if you don’t come to this neighbourhood in the beginning of the summer you are going to forget about it for the whole year,” Lyle said.

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The project, which was originally planned for 12 weeks, now will be shortened to nine — a small relief for Lyle, who hopes to see the project done in stages.

“If we could do this in stretches of four weeks at a time and every merchant would be equally affected.  Four weeks is less than 12 weeks,” Lyle said.

Borough Mayor Benoit Dorais says the work is long overdue and necessary.

The project has been delayed for three years, according to Dorais, who was surprised by the staunch reaction from merchants opposing the project’s timing.

Dorais says the borough cannot wait any longer. Postponing again may lead to ruptures of the water main like in the fall.

Last summer, during the brief reopening of patios, merchants asked for the city to postpone the scheduled work at the risk of the water pipe bursting, Dorais said.

In November 2021, merchants were left without water for 48 hours, forcing the closure of the street for urgent repairs after a break.

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Both Ghirotto and Lyle say they are pleased with the borough’s response to their pleas but said they hope any future projects will be better communicated with the merchants.

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