Montreal

Parisian-style brasserie Chez Alexandre seeks sidewalk terrace exception

The City of Montreal wants sidewalks clear of terrace setups this summer so that wheelchairs can pass freely, but some long-standing restaurants argue that they already leave enough room, even if it’s less than the 1.8 metres required.

“All my staff went into the street to protect the terrace,” owner says of tug of war with city workers

Alain Creton, owner of Chez Alexandre, said that the city did not consult the groups which would be affected before outlining its new policies. (Chez Alexandre)

The City of Montreal wants sidewalks clear of terrace setups this summer so that wheelchairs can pass freely, but some long-standing restaurants argue that they already leave enough room, even if it's less than the 1.8 metres required.

The conflict got physical earlier in May when staff at the Parisian-style brasserie Chez Alexandre on Peel Street engaged in a tug of war with city workers over the offending chairs and tables.    

"It was real intimidation, there were three police cars, 12 blue collar workers, one truck and city staff," the owner of Chez Alexandre, Alain Creton, told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

"All my staff went into the street to protect the terrace."

According to a Ville-Marie borough spokeswoman, Anik de Repentigny, Chez Alexandre does not have a café-terrace permit this year and that serving clients on one goes against municipal code.

Creton argues that the only permit they are making available to him is not one he wants to buy.

"They won't give me the same authorization that they've been giving me for the past 40 years," Creton said. "They said I had to go in a parking spot."

Creton says in all the years he's had his tables and chairs on the sidewalk he's never received complaints or had accidents.

Following the city's attempt to seize his terrace furniture, Creton met with the borough.

He asked the city for any complaints they received but said they couldn't give him even one.

The crackdown on sidewalk terraces is part of a new push towards greater accessibility that Montreal began four years ago.

Creton argues that as a Parisian style bistro a parking spot terrace wouldn't suit the feel of his establishment. He's hoping to have his terrace grandfathered so that the new rules don't apply to it. He said he has a lawyer looking into legal options.

He has one more meeting scheduled with the borough.

Creton said the city did not consult stakeholders — like Tourism Montreal the Montreal Chamber of Commerce — before outlining its new policies.

"I lose $7000 per day without my terrace," Creton said.

This isn't the first time Creton has struggled with the city over his terrace. He had similar problems last summer.

with files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak