Montreal mayor Valerie Plante decided earlier in the week to allow restaurants to open terraces without the usual exorbitantly high fees demanded by the city. Some went as high as $30,000 for the season.
She stated that she believed that the city had to do something to help whatever restaurants reopened to recover lost revenues. A commendable decision as we ready to open some commercial activity on Monday. Particularly in light of the fact that an industry survey reported on by The Suburban last week demonstrated that as many as one-third of restaurants will not reopen. The restaurant industry employs some 40,000 in Quebec alone. She saw the loss of municipal tax revenue would be severe.
But the next day she took a decision that will hurt Montreal business much more than terraces could help. She announced, without consultation with boroughs, that she would dedicate another 350km of the city’s roadways to more bike paths. Her authoritarian decision-making and pandering to her bicycle party base has many angry Montrealers calling her the “Green Trump.”
This decision, which will eliminate hundreds more parking places in addition to the 1000 plus she has eliminated already, will make it impossible for businesses to recover as they attempt to reopen. Aside from restaurants, retail organizations predict 20% of storefronts along St.Catherine will not open. Retailers have stated over and over that Plante’s cutting of parking spaces and other anti-car measures are hurting their businesses and sending shoppers to suburban malls where parking is free and easy.
Plante is not stupid. She knows this is true. She has simply made a decision to play to her “war on cars” base. Even numbers don’t move her. The city’s own figures show that on average 400,000 cars come downtown every day. Only about 26,000 cyclists come into Ville Marie borough daily, and that number is only in spring and summer. Included in the 350 km of bike paths will be the complete elimination of parking spots in the commercial heart of Queen Mary Road and St. Laurent Blvd. Among other major thoroughfares.
This administration is a menace to most Montrealers. This disastrous decision at such a precipitous time in our nascent recovery will cause misery that will not soon be dissipated. We hope all voters remember as they go to the polls next year.