Montreal

St. Hubert Plaza is one of 11 pedestrian streets coming your way this summer

Montreal is gearing up for pedestrian-only areas on some of its biggest commercial arteries.

But only 60 out of 400 St. Hubert Plaza merchants voted and many think it's a bad idea

People are walking in the street.
A stretch of Mount Royal Avenue, pictured here on Sept. 23, 2020, is one of the 11 streets in Montreal that will once again be turned into a pedestrian-only zone this summer. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

It's that time of the year again: over nine kilometres of road on 11 different Montreal streets will be getting a pedestrian-only makeover this summer.

One spot in particular, St-Hubert Plaza, is getting special attention. It will be a pedestrian-only street from July 4 to Aug. 25, between Bellechase and Jean-Talon streets. This is the first time the street will be restricted to foot traffic for the summer.

The city of Montreal says that it got the support of the majority of the merchants to go ahead with the summer pedestrianization projects, making 2,100 businesses accessible on foot.

Making the announcement at the plaza this morning, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said the number of people visiting the city's pedestrianized streets has more than doubled since the project began in 2021. 

"It brings good business, but it also brings a lot of people just to enjoy the street and enjoy the city differently during the summer," said Plante, adding that local businesses form the core of the city's local economy. 

Mike Parente, the director of SDC Plaza St-Hubert, the local merchants' association, said that the 400 or so merchants who do business on the street had been consulted since 2022 and the decision was put to a vote, which yielded a "positive" result.

However, voter turnout was low. Only 60 of the 400 members participated in the decision-making process. Thirty-three voted in favour, 24 voted against and another three abstained.

Accessibility for people with reduced mobility and disabilities was also factored into the planning and consultation process, Parente said. 

"We continually listen and we have open communication with them to make sure that the street, once pedestrianized, will be accessible to all," he said.

Here is a full list of other street segments that will also be car-free zones:

  • In the Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie borough, the Jean Talon Market will be pedestrian-only from June 6 to Oct. 13 between Place du Marché-du-Nord, Casgrain and Henri-Julien avenues.
  • In the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, Mont-Royal Avenue will be pedestrian-only from May 28 to Sept. 5 between St-Denis and De Lorimier streets, and from May 28 to Oct. 18 between St-Laurent Boulevard and De Lorimier Street.
  • Elsewhere in the borough, Duluth Avenue East will be car-free from June 20 to Oct. 14 between St-Laurent Boulevard and St-Hubert Street.
  • In the Verdun borough, Wellington Street will be pedestrian-only from June 3 to Sept. 8 between Sixth Avenue and Régina Street.
  • In the Ville-Marie borough, Ste-Catherine Street East will be pedestrian-only from May 17 to Oct. 17 between St-Hubert and Papineau Streets.
  • Elsewhere in the borough, Ste-Catherine Street West will be car-free from May 1 to Oct. 31 between St-Laurent Boulevard and De Bleury Street.
  • St-Denis will be car-free from June 18 to Sept. 17 between Sherbrooke Street, De Maisonneuve Boulevard and Emery Street.
  • In the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough, Ontario Street East will be pedestrian-only from June 17 to Sept. 10 between Pie-IX Boulevard and Darling Street.
  • In the borough of Outremont, Bernard Avenue will be pedestrian-only from May 20 to Sept. 30 between Outremont and Bloomfield avenues.
  • Last but not least, De Castelnau Street in the Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension borough will be pedestrian-only from May 15 to Oct. 15 between St-Denis Street and De Gaspé Avenue.

Many customers live far away and need cars, merchant says

Fady Malek is one of the business owners who voted against the strip's pedestrianization.

Malek, who owns a jewelry store, says the plan is a bad idea, especially considering the types of businesses you can find on the plaza. 

 "If you want to buy a wedding dress, you want to buy jewelry, you want to buy a vase or a lamp, it takes a car," said Malek.

He also said the city seems to be promoting the idea of walking and using public transit to go shopping nearby, but added that it's not feasible for everyone, and there needs to be enough parking to welcome customers driving long distances to shop. 

a person talking behind a mic.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said the number of people visiting the city's pedestrianized streets has more than doubled since the project began in 2021. (Charles Contant/CBC)

"We need people from the middle class to come with their cars with families and kids to shop around, buy some food, buy their clothes ... And that takes a car," he said.  

"People from Mirabel, Dorval, Ottawa, Quebec City, Trois-Rivières: those are the clients of the plaza."

Nandy Kutasi, the owner of 100000 Jeans, also voted against the measure. He too is worried about the loss of parking spaces, but he said he's open to being proven wrong.

"If we don't try it, we won't know," he said. "If it doesn't work, then let's go back to normal."

Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie borough mayor François said parking is ample in the area with, by his count, 500 parking spots around the plaza.

With support from the Quebec government, the city of Montreal says it has invested $12 million over a three-year period in the project.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joe Bongiorno

Journalist

Joe Bongiorno is a journalist, author and former high school teacher. He has reported for CBC, Canadian Geographic, Maisonneuve, Canada’s National Observer and others. He is currently a reporter with The Canadian Press.

with files from Radio-Canada