Red flag for east-end residents as city builds Formula E track

The city of Montreal is warning people that they should use public transit if they plan on going downtown near the site of the upcoming Formula E race.

During race weekend, people who live within circuit can only access their homes via 2 entry points

Crews work to turn René-Lévesque Blvd, near Montcalm St., into a race track for the Formula E. (CBC)

The city of Montreal is warning people that they should use public transit if they plan on going anywhere near the Gay Village during the lead up to and days following the Formula E race.

Today city officials unveiled plans for street closures and parking restrictions in the area near the circuit.

The race takes place on Sat. July 29 and Sun. July 30, but traffic restrictions will begin as early as July 15 because workers need to set up the course.

Formula E, which features fully electric cars that can reach speeds up to 225 kilometers per hour, has only been around for three years.

Montreal is hosting the event, which comes with a $24 million price tag, for its first time.

The perimeter of the race track will be: Papineau the east, St-Antoine St. to the south, Berri Street to the west and Rene-Lévesque Blvd. to the north.

After the race, the course will begin to be dismantled on the night of July 30. It's expected that will take 10 days to complete.
(Formula E)

What you need to know during race weekend

There are 6,200 homes and businesses in the area.

  • As of July 27, people trying to get within the circuit will have walking access at all times via two entry points:
    • St-Hubert St./René-Lévesque Blvd. (at the north end of the race track)
    • Amherst St. / St-Antoine St. (at the south end of the race track)
  • The gateway at St-Hubert St./René-Lévesque Blvd. will have a bike ramp.
  • Neighbouring one-way streets outside the perimeter will become two-way so that people who live in the area can access their homes at all times.
  • Parking will be prohibited, or in some cases limited only to permit-holders, on many of the nearby residential streets.
    The Formula E circuit is shown in yellow. Nearby streets coloured in red is where parking will be forbidden. Green represents where parking is allowed for permit-holders only. (City of Montreal)
  • Cars will only be able to enter the perimeter outside of race hours:
    • On Thursday, Friday and Saturday between 6:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.
    • On Sunday after 6:30 p.m.
  • Cars can enter via Amherst St. and leave via De La Gauchetière St.

Homeowners, business owners upset

People who live and work in the area say they support the event, but are frustrated with the city's road plans.

Anthony Johnson lives at the corner of Amherst St. and René-Lévesque Blvd.

The disruption is kind of hard to stomach.- Alex Meletakos, downtown employee

"For someone like me who has to go out many times a day with dogs, go to work, come back…it becomes a real problem."

Johnson said he's worried about how much it will cost him to find parking elsewhere.

"Trying to find alternate parking downtown means money. I don't mind supporting these kinds of events, but when it starts impacting things like your budget…it always makes me wonder if there isn't a better way to plan these things."

Alex Meletakos works at Poissonnerie La Mer, a fish store on René-Lévesque Blvd.

"It sounds cool having a race in the city — Monaco style. It could be a lot of fun and have Montreal shine on the world stage but the disruption is kind of hard to stomach," he said, adding that no one at the store was ever consulted until recently.

The company sent a lawyer's letter to the city after they were told they may have to shut down during the weekend of the race.

"You can't just block a business that pays taxes and depends on being open. You can't block their parking lot off for two weeks without any kind of compensation or measure to allow our operations to keep going," Meletakos said.

"I would have preferred some more consultations before the Formula E was confirmed."

Formula E is a competition with 10 teams facing off in different cities around the world. Montreal's races in July will be the final two races of Formula E's 2016-17 season. 

With files from CBC's Patrick Butler