The city of Montreal is currently rethinking the revitalization project underway on Sainte-Catherine Street, and some major changes have been proposed. The latest proposal, if accepted, would reduce the street to just one lane of vehicle traffic, and remove all parking between Mansfield and Bleury.
Montreal’s tourism association responded well to the proposal, but its retailer’s association, Destination Centre-Ville, was more reticent.
The previous administration had toyed with the idea of reducing available parking to widen sidewalks and improve the flow of the street, but now, the city wants to go even farther. Just one lane for cars would remain, and an extra half-lane would serve as space to pick up or drop off people without cutting traffic, as well as for delivery trucks.
Sainte-Catherine Street currently has four vehicle lanes (two for traffic and one on each side for parking). This would be a major change for all those involved. One instance would be for parades such as the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade; presumably, people would be able to get in a little closer to the floats and there would be more sidewalk space available.
The city argues that Sainte-Catherine must be thought of as an “experience” rather than simply a shopping destination. If someone only wants to buy something, they’ll do so online, said executive committee member Robert Beaudry.
For his part, André Poulin, who heads Destination Centre-Ville (a retailer’s association) said retailers have serious concerns about this proposal. He fears reduced parking will translate to reduced shopping. “We need to make sure we can welcome people, and that they’re able to park their cars. After that, they become pedestrians,” he said.