Montreal

Valérie Plante asks Montrealers to ditch online shopping this holiday season and help local stores

"We have a responsibility, all of us, to support merchants and those businesses that we love so much," Montreal's mayor said in announcing a $6-million plan for local businesses.

'We have a responsibility, all of us,' Montreal's mayor says in announcing new investment

Mayor Valérie Plante said the holiday season is always a crucial period for merchants, but under the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become an especially important time for local businesses to make sales. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante has announced a $6-million investment to support local businesses leading up to the holiday season.

"The online shopping giants don't need us to survive, but our local stores do — the ones who pay taxes and are part of our community," Plante said. 

"We have a responsibility, all of us, to support merchants and those businesses that we love so much."

The new plan from the city includes: 

  • Free street parking across the city on Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 14 to Dec.. 31.
  • Allowing the extension of retail hours during the same period.
  • Promoting urban delivery for local businesses.
  • Extending the period of pedestrian streets and outdoor art installations downtown through the winter.
  • Launching an awareness campaign to improve crowdfunding campaigns that support local businesses.
  • Supporting merchants to improve their services while respecting public health guidelines, including helping them move online.

Plante was joined at the news conference by Billy Walsh, president of Montreal's association of commercial development societies. 

Plante said the holiday season is always a crucial period for merchants, but under the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become an especially important time for local businesses to make sales. 

Many of Montreal's commercial areas, notably downtown, have suffered as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

By the end of the summer, only about 50,000 people were regularly spending time downtown — less than 10 per cent of regular traffic.

Last month, Luc Rabouin, borough mayor of Plateau-Mont-Royal and the executive committee member responsible for economic development, said many businesses may go under if there is no government help.

"We will still need, for a good amount of time, public aid for the most affected sectors," he said. "We are going to have to work together, and we are going to need resources."

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