St-Denis merchants hold guerrilla meeting to discuss survival

Merchants on a construction-heavy stretch of St-Denis Street held a special meeting Monday night to strategize their survival in the face of an up to 90 per cent drop in clientele.

Merchants worry they won't survive until construction ends in November if action isn't taken

Store owner Marie Montpetit said she hoped the St. Denis merchant association, the SDC, would "be more combative" with the city over the issue of construction. (Elysha Enos/CBC)

Merchants on a construction-heavy stretch of St-Denis Street held a special meeting Monday night to strategize their survival in the face of an up to 90 per cent drop in clientele.

The meeting took place at the café Aux Deux Marie with about 15 shop owners in attendance.

The group agreed on the two main points of the meeting:

  • to request a collective tax break.
  • to apply firm pressure to their merchants' association, the SDC, to take action with the city on their behalf.

The merchants on St-Denis Street say business has dropped significantly since construction work began last fall. In some cases, they say they've lost as much as 90 per cent of their clientele.

They are calling on their association to hold a meeting in the coming days to hear their demands.

"Then if the SDC doesn't fulfil the mandate we give them, we will need to move on," Marie Montpetit, a local merchant and the meeting's organizer told CBC News.

The merchants have floated the idea of starting their own association in the hopes of more aggressively putting pressure on the City to help them weather the construction period.

Merchants have recently launched a Facebook page called Sauvons La Rue Saint-Denis to rally support from the community.

A unique shopping street

Shoppers braving St-Denis Street have been treated to the sound of jackhammers and piles of dirt since road work began last summer.

The 16-month construction project is expected to end in November but, according to Montpetit, it could take as many as two years for shoppers to adjust their habits before coming back to shop on the street.

"It's very sad because St-Denis was one of the last streets in Montreal where you had little merchants and it had a very Quebec feel to it," Montpetit said.

Last week the restaurant Le Hachoir posted a satirical photo inviting patrons to come experience their new terrace which went viral.

with files from CBC's Melissa Fundira