Hoping the city comes alive this summer, Montreal doles out $4.5M for restaurants, bars

The city of Montreal announced a $4-million plan to help restaurants and bars make a strong comeback this summer, as the province's vaccination rollout continues to accelerate.

City investing $500K for creation of more affordable food delivery platform

On Friday, the city of Montreal announced subsidies for businesses in and around downtown Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

As the province's vaccination campaign accelerates and anticipation grows for a summer with fewer restrictions and more activities, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says she wants restaurants and bars to come back with a bang.

On Friday, Plante announced that $4 million worth of subsidies are available for restaurants and bars in and around the downtown core.

The funds are included in the $25-million plan to kickstart downtown Montreal's economy, which was unveiled last month. Sixty per cent of that total comes from the provincial government, with the rest of the money coming from the city.

All funds are managed by PME-MTL, a network of non-profits that provide financing and other services to small and medium-sized businesses in Montreal. 

Most financial assistance programs for businesses during the pandemic — whether provincial or municipal — have come in the form of loans.

In addition to downtown, the mayor said the areas targeted by this program are in the boroughs of Plateau-Mont-Royal, Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, Côte-Des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-De-Grâce and Southwest. 

Although restaurants in the city have been able to sell food to go, most dining rooms have been shut down for much of the pandemic. Dining rooms and bars in Montreal have been shut down since Oct. 1. 

"The reopening of the restaurant sector will give a big boost to the city of Montreal, more specifically downtown," Plante said.

In many Montreal boroughs, a permit to set up a terrasse costs 50$ or less. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Eligible businesses will be able to benefit from subsidies of up to $25,000. Plante said business owners can apply to fund up to 90 per cent of the cost of a project that enables them to draw customers, such as purchasing and building terrasses — the common term used in Montreal for outdoor eating and drinking areas. 

Since last year, the cost of a permit for terrasses has been reduced to $50 or less, as a way to help struggling businesses.

Building more affordable food delivery app

The city is also investing $500,000 in the creation of a food a delivery platform that would be more affordable than the services provided by companies such as Uber Eats, SkipTheDishes and DoorDash. The city is issuing a call for tenders for groups who wish to develop the app.

In March, Bill 87 was passed into law at the National Assembly. The law enables the province to cap delivery fees companies at a maximum of 20 per cent of an order's total for the duration of the pandemic.

"Those fees will still be too high after the pandemic," said Luc Rabouin, the borough mayor for Plateau-Mont-Royal. Rabouin is also the executive committee member in charge of economic and commercial development.

"It deprives restaurant owners from the majority of their profits," Rabouin said.