Montreal is aiming to revitalize the heart of downtown and Mayor Denis Coderre wants Montrealers to submit their ideas for a new Sainte-Catherine Street.
The work, set to begin in 2016, will affect Sainte-Catherine Street between Bleury Street and Atwater Avenue.
“I think we need to rethink Sainte-Catherine, but I think we need to do it in an inclusive way — to have the capacity and the opportunity to say what kind of Sainte-Catherine Street do we want? Let’s all dream together,” Coderre said.
Sainte-Catherine Street's underground infrastructure, such as sewers and aqueducts, are aging and in much-needed repair.
Coderre says that underground repair work is a perfect opportunity to revamp the street level as well.
“We have to renew all the infrastructure, but I think Sainte-Catherine deserves more than just to change a pipe,” Coderre said.
The work will be done in two phases. Sainte-Catherine Street between Bleury and Mansfield — including Phillips Square — will be done first. Once that’s complete, the revamping between Mansfield and Atwater Avenue will take place.
Montrealers will have until December to submit their ideas for the $80 million plan.
Coderre said he wants Montrealers to get creative and all ideas submitted at public consultations will be considered — except a tram.
“Forget about it. We can’t afford it. We can all dream, but there are limits to dreams,” he said.
Coderre said he is thinking about ways to improve traffic in the downtown core, such as proposing underground parking lots.
“If it’s good for Champs-Élysées (in Paris) to have underground parking, why can’t we? And at the end of the day, it’s not to get rid of the cars. It’s to find a better way regarding traffic.”
Some downtown merchants said they are happy with the revitalization plan, but they hope the construction will not discourage shoppers from coming downtown.
“It’s possible to make sure the work will be done under the surface instead of opening everything and making a mess, like we have seen too many times in the past in Montreal,” said André Poulin, executive director of Destination Centre-Ville .
Coderre would not give a detailed timeline for the work to be completed, but said construction will pause in 2017 for Montreal’s 375 anniversary celebrations.