Multiple merchants in Cote-des-Neiges are upset about plans for a new reserved bus lane that will run in front of their stores.
They say the new lane on Queen Mary Road will be bad for business.
Barbara Vininsky’s family has been operating the Jack and Jill toy and clothing store on Queen Mary for over six decades.
She now worries her shop might be in danger.
“They are not helping our business. They’re taking away our livelihood,” she said.
The new reserved lane project is coming to Queen Mary this summer, between Côte-des-Neiges road and Macdonald avenue.
A lane of the eastbound side of the thoroughfare will be devoted to buses and taxis during the morning rush, and a lane on the westbound side will be reserved during the afternoon rush.
The city says the measure will shave nearly seven minutes off the commutes of 8,000 public transit users. During the afternoon rush, 40 parking spots will become unavailable.
“Queen Mary is not just for people on the bus,” said Sandra Climan, who owns the Bibliophile bookstore.
Climan and Vininsky are among a group of business owners operating on Queen Mary west of Decarie who fear their peak business hours will be negatively impacted by the lack of parking spots. They say if customers can’t park in front of their stores, they’ll stop coming and start shopping online.
They say on their part of the street, traffic is not an issue, so the bus lane is not needed.
“I understand that we need to help the environment and have buses and bikes. But this area, these three blocks west of Decarie, going west between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m., we don’t have a problem,” said Climan.
On Tuesday a group of merchants got together to express their displeasure with the plan.
They believe there should be no reserved lane on the westbound side of Queen Mary between Decarie and Macdonald.
“If you take away 40 parking places from us between 3:30 and 6:30, you’re taking away our customers,” said Climan.
The owner of the Punjab Canteen restaurant on Queen Mary says the inability to park in front during the dinner rush will be costly.
“Our main traffic starts at 5:00 p.m. after the schools are done. Most of the parents, they bring their kids they park their cars over here,” said owner Eswar Kosuri.
He said he fears delivery drivers will have difficulty stopping to pick up food, and that a new terrasse set to be installed soon will become undesirable with buses passing it during dinner.
The merchants presented a petition demanding a meeting with the borough.
Climan called for flexibility, but fears the city has already made up its mind.
Snowdon city councillor Sonny Moroz voted in favour of the lane, but hopes for a compromise.
“The borough and the STM and the city have to be there to listen to these concerns,” he said. “If you want to do big things fast, you have to do them right.”
Borough Mayor Gracia Katahwa was not available for an interview on the topic because she’s on vacation, but her administration sent a statement to Global News.
“We will show flexibility as we implement the new reserved bus lanes to make sure it lands as smoothly as possible, but status quo is no longer an option,” read an email sent by spokesperson Alicia Dufour. “Reserved bus lanes do not start or end with the most challenging area: they must be seen as a whole.”
Dufour’s email also explained that 60 paid parking spots will be added in the area where the reserved lanes will be implemented, though merchants said they didn’t know where those spots would be.
The city said it will organize a meeting with the merchants quickly, and the STM will be going door to door to discuss the project.