Montreal going the wrong way on one-way street: Notre-Dame merchants

Businesses on Notre-Dame St. W. already affected by construction work that began this spring, now must cope with changes to a major side street.

Merchants on the popular commercial strip met Monday to call out the Sud-Ouest borough and the city of Montreal for what they say is a decision that could hurt their businesses.

The debate concerns Rose-de-Lima St., which is just west of Atwater Ave. and connects Notre-Dame to St-Jacques St. and the Ville-Marie Expressway. It had been a two-way road.

Rose-de-Lima is now a one-way street going north. To access Notre-Dame from the Ville Marie, eastbound cars will have to take the Atwater exit.

Peter Sergakis, a longtime St-Henri resident and landowner who organized the meeting, said he wants Rose-de-Lima to run one-way south. The new setup makes it easier to leave Notre-Dame than to access it, he argues.

“It’s totally unacceptable,” he said.

Mario Andrews, vice-president of the borough’s Service de développement commercial, a merchants association called Les quartiers du canal, agreed that Rose-de-Lima should not run one-way north. He also criticized the borough and the city for being unclear about changes to the street.

The SDC had sent an email to its members on July 10, asking whether they agreed with the plan to make it one-way northbound.

But Sud-Ouest borough Mayor Benoit Dorais said the SDC was involved “every step of the way” in planning the construction around the rebuilding of Notre-Dame St.

“I was very surprised that people were just learning about this now,” Dorais said. Changing the orientation of Rose-de-Lima will slow traffic on Notre-Dame, where speeding is a problem, he said.

The Sud-Ouest borough persuaded the city of Montreal to invest in improving “la Dame” — and $11 million was pledged in 2015 to a plan called La Dame se refait une beauté.  The plan was available on, and the borough invested $300,000 to inform its citizens and merchants of the project, Dorais said.

Plans to change Rose-de-Lima have been in place since last year, he said, and the website included a map with arrows.

Julie Pedersen, the owner of Totem Tea & Spice on Notre-Dame, spoke up at the meeting to express her surprise that Sergakis said he was unaware of the change. She said she attended all the meetings regarding the project.

“I was 100 per cent aware that this was happening,” Pedersen said. “I don’t know how you can say that it’s not happening unless you haven’t been involved in going to the meetings.”

Another business owner, Danielle Russell, said she believes the plan was born of good intention, but that the results will be bad.

“I don’t think it’s the best decision for the next (decades) that will bring the right solutions to Notre-Dame St.,” said Russell, who owns a cosmetics store called Botania on Notre-Dame.

Construction on Notre-Dame began in the spring, and complaints continue to roll in.

Montreal announced Notre-Dame would be closed between Vinet and St-Martin Sts. for six weeks, starting July 17.

Patrice Demers, who owns Patrice Pâtissier near the Atwater Market, took to Twitter to call out the city and the borough, saying he received notice of the road closures on July 14, three days before construction was set to begin.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre announced Monday the plan had changed. Roadwork would not begin until July 24, and construction would not last longer than two weeks, depending on weather, he said.

Ghislain Beaulieu, who owns Ludger, a bar on Notre-Dame at du Couvent St. said his business has been affected by the months of work on Notre-Dame.

“Of course, the traffic on Notre-Dame St. is less fluid, and there’s less traffic in front of where we run our business,” Beaulieu said at Monday’s meeting.

While no formal solution was reached regarding Rose-de-Lima, Dorais said the borough would review the file. He said the street has already been designed to become a one-way, and that it is unlikely plans will change.

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