Some businesses say pedestrian-only section of Mont-Royal Ave. is costing them customers

Several owners say they've noticed a drop in sales because parking in the area is difficult now that cars are not allowed along part of Mont-Royal Avenue, but the area's borough mayor is standing by the decision.

Several owners have noticed a drop in sales because parking in the area is difficult

Mont-Royal Avenue is closed between St-Laurent Boulevard and Fullum Street until Sept. 15. (CBC)

For the second summer in a row, a stretch of Mont-Royal Avenue in Montreal has been transformed into a pedestrian walkway.

But some business owners in the area say they've noticed a decrease in sales because it's more difficult for clients to find parking close by.

"At first, I thought it would be nice, because there would be more people walking around, I would be more visible to clientele, but then, when they closed the street, that's when it hit me," said Émile Calistru, owner of Comtoise butcher shop.

"Sales-wise, it's been almost a month they closed the street and already, we're 30 per cent down," he said. "Pretty much everybody who comes by car, they don't come anymore."

Merchants have also been hearing complaints from suppliers who can no longer get their trucks onto the street. 

Calistru said one of his delivery companies cancelled on him because it's too difficult to find parking.

"There's a lot of companies saying 'you know what, we're not going to do it because it's such a hassle.'"

Émile Calistru, owner of Comtoise butcher shop on Mont-Royal Avenue, said he's seen a drop in sales because of reduced parking. (CBC)

Calistru said the pedestrian section of street only benefits bars and restaurants who set up patios where parking spots used to be.

"We're just struggling," he said. 

Claude Brûlé, owner of restaurant Chinoiseries & Dumplings, said he feels the lack of parking is affecting his bottom line as well.

"I had people from all over the town come here," he said. "Nobody from downtown, Outremont, Villeray, Mile End will come ... it's very difficult to come by car. You can get lucky and find parking space, but otherwise no, it's not possible."

Brûlé added that since he doesn't have a patio in front of his place, the extra space doesn't even provide him with the advantage of outdoor seating and extra tables.

Mayor stands behind decision

The street is closed between St-Laurent Boulevard and Fullum Street until Sept. 15.

Luc Rabouin, the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough mayor, stands by the borough's decision. When they surveyed 130 businesses in the area, only a minority were unsatisfied with the pedestrianization of the street, he said. 

Luc Rabouin, mayor of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, said the majority of merchants are in favour of the pedestrian-only section. (CBC)

Rabouin said that although the decision last year proved controversial — it's a different story now.

"This year, the very large majority of merchants are happy or very happy. A low percentage of merchants are unhappy, it's less than 20 per cent," he told CBC News.

Rabouin said the pedestrian street is good for business, and the commercial vacancy rate is less than 10 per cent.

He added that the borough has created additional parking spaces on side streets, and made 15-minute pickup spots available.

With files from Chloe Ranaldi


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