Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante on December 13
January 16, 2024
Downtown Montreal has not yet recovered from the pandemic and the effects of teleworking. In order to restore its luster, Valérie Plante's administration is banking on a strategy that plans investments of a billion dollars over ten years and the designation of the Latin Quarter as a “Francophonie district” with the creation of a zone “24 hours.”
Tourists and students may be back in the city center, but this is far from the case for workers, even if there has been progress over the past year. A survey commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal revealed last December that 87% of workers were back in the office at least once a week, compared to 81% a year earlier. On the other hand, half of the workers who participated in the survey said they felt a feeling of insecurity in the city center.
Francophonie district, but still ?
The Plante administration presented Tuesday the strategies it will prioritize in the coming years to get the city center back on track. She says she wants to strengthen the identity of the neighborhoods that make up the city center and suggests designating the Latin Quarter as a “Francophonie district,” due to the presence of major French-speaking cultural and university institutions. However, intentions on this subject remain vague. “We will not change the name of the Latin Quarter, but we want to reaffirm the extent to which it contributes to the strong French-speaking identity of Montreal, in terms of knowledge, culture and major Quebec institutions,” explained Tuesday the Mayor Valérie Plante.
The City is also putting forward the idea of creating a “24-hour” zone, with nighttime entertainment in the Latin Quarter, but the head of economic development on the executive committee, Luc Rabouin, maintains that the designated perimeter has not yet been chosen. This project will be part of the Nightlife Policy which must be unveiled shortly by the City, he said. “We are going to hold consultations on this policy in the coming weeks and we will see what stakeholders in the sector will tell us. It will be a new asset for the city center. »
The City's strategy is also based on the development of the Faubourgs and Bridge-Bonaventure sectors, where 15,000 new housing units are planned, and on the completion of phase 3 of the International District. In passing, the City mentions the expansion of the Palais des congrès, a project that the Quebec government is however slow to bring to fruition.
Montreal plans to invest a billion dollars in downtown over the next ten years. This amount includes major infrastructure projects, such as the redevelopment of Sainte-Catherine Street (West and East), work on Phillips Square and work on McGill College Avenue, which have already been announced.
Among other proposals, the City suggests improving the cleanliness of public spaces and the management of obstacles. As she had already announced, the Plante administration plans to pedestrianize a quadrangle of Old Montreal starting next summer, but on Tuesday, Mayor Plante was not able to say what perimeter would be chosen.
The opposition at city hall believes that the strategy presented by the Plante administration contains nothing new. “It’s reheated,” says Ensemble Montréal advisor Julien Hénault-Ratelle.
In addition to major urban revitalization projects, the City planned, in its budget tabled in the fall, an amount of 10 million for the City Center Strategy in 2024. According to the opposition elected official, this amount will be insufficient to revitalize the city center, provide direct aid to merchants or invest in urban security. However, several sectors of the city center, such as the Village, Place Émilie-Gamelin and Cabot Square, are struggling and could do with significant investment, he emphasizes.
As for the idea of designating the Latin Quarter as a “Francophonie district”, the elected official does not see how this “slogan” can concretely help this sector and its traders.