'It's killing the business': Merchants worry as construction takes over St-Denis Street in Villeray

Merchants along a stretch of St-Denis Street in Villeray say they’re worried about whether their business can survive the new construction project.

Work to replace sewer and aqueduct expected to be completed in 2 years

Cathy Tu owns a restaurant on St-Denis Street. She says she's very worried about how the 2-year construction project will affect business. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Merchants along a stretch of St-Denis Street in Villeray say they're worried about whether their business can survive the new construction project underway.

"I'm very worried because it's killing the business," said Cathy Tu, who owns Japanese restaurant Yakata near the corner of Jarry and St-Denis streets.

In that area, between Jarry and Faillon streets, St-Denis Street now has only one lane open to traffic, which runs northbound.
A portion of St-Denis Street in Villeray, between Faillon and Jarry streets, is being dug up so that the sewer and aqueducts can be replaced. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

The middle of the artery was dug up two weeks ago to replace sewer and water pipes that are over 100 years old.

"The sewer was built in 1899 and the aqueduct was built in 1912," said City of Montreal spokesperson Philippe Sabourin.

He said the city is taking measures to make life easier for merchants and people who live in the area.

"In order to make sure citizens and merchants could find easily a parking spot, the city keeps 100 parking [spots] free for everyone to park their car."

It comes as some relief to Tu.

"That is a good idea. At least they are planning to have parking," she said, but added that she doesn't think it'll be enough.

"The construction is going to be for two years, so it's hard. Already in two weeks, we see it affected business. It's dirty, messy and people don't walk here anymore."

With only 1 lane open to traffic while construction is underway, the city added free parking spots along both sides of St-Denis Street. (Kate McKenna/CBC)
The span of St-Denis Street between Faillon and Jarry streets will be done by the fall. Then in 2019, workers will move south, digging up St-Denis between Faillon and Jean Talon streets.

Tu said she remembers how tough it was for St-Denis Street merchants in the Plateau when construction work was underway there.

She's hoping the city will compensate business owners for any lost income.

"If the government can help entrepreneurs like us, that would be helpful."

With files from CBC reporter Kate McKenna