Members of Montreal’s business community are calling on the city's mayoral candidates to do more for the city’s struggling economy.
General manager of St-Laurent Boulevard’s merchant association, Glenn Castanheira, said the city needs to pump money into making its commercial sector more vibrant.
“Development for commercial arteries is essential to the campaign and we haven’t heard enough about it,” Castanheira said.
He said without a strategy, Montreal’s nightlife could be at risk.
“Bars, restaurants and nightclubs ... get hit with hefty fines for making too much noise,” Castanheira said. “But the law itself [was] made in the 70s and has not been adapted to today’s reality.”
Montreal’s main mayoral candidates appear to agree that Montreal’s economy needs a boost, although how that should be accomplished is up for debate.
Projet Montréal leader Richard Bergeron said the solution to the city’s economic woes is keeping families on the island.
“The reality is that year after year we lose 22,000 inhabitants that leave Montreal for the suburbs. They [take] with them $2.5 billion of investment,” Bergeron said.
He said one solution is to revamp the long-dormant housing project near Montreal’s old Hippodrome.
'The reality is that year after year we lose 22,000 inhabitants that leave Montreal for the suburbs' - Richard Bergeron, Mayoral candidate for Projet Montréal
“It is possible to stay in Montreal to raise your children … one of the answers to this issue is Hippodrome.”
Candidate Denis Coderre highlighted Montreal telecommunications and audiovisual industries as opportunities to bolster Montreal's future.
Coderre said Montreal's growing technology sector has the ability to inject creativity and draw business, but he said red tape and bureaucracy hinders entrepreneurs from developing infrastructure.
"If we want to be a player in the world, that we assume our role as a smart city. A smart city brings smart citizens," he said.
Coalition Montréal's Marcel Côté said it all comes down to how the city is run.
“Investors and the business community at large have lost confidence in the Montreal economy ... because of all the corruption, the mismanagement, the orange cones, the high cost of taxes, and the high cost of the city.”
Côté said management needs to focus on simplifying the city’s bureaucracy and its decision-making processes.
Once that foundation is laid, he said, the city can focus on its best features, like higher education, research and advance manufacturing.
'Investors and the business community at large has lost confidence in the Montreal economy' - Marcel Côté, Coalition Montréal mayoral candidate
Candidate Mélanie Joly said strengthening Montreal`s economy is about attracting investors.
She said she would focus on three key areas — improving infrastructure management, creating a welcoming business climate and reducing congestion in the city by improving public transit.